[Women in Tech] IoT and AI are going to revolutionise the world — Shilpa Mahna Bhatnagar, Co-founder of Evoxyz Technologies
With 18 years of experience in software products and services under her belt, Shilpna Mahna Bhatnagar calls herself “an extremely hands-on Android programmer.” Co-founder of Evoxyz Technologies, this technologist believes that all engineers, no matter at what level of the organisation they may be, should never leave development.
She has also filed three patents in the technology sector, such as ‘Always on system’ , ‘High Availability Systems’ and ‘Location tracking,’ out of which she has been granted ‘High Availability Systesms’ globally. In a freewheeling chat with HerStory, she talks about her journey with technology and starting up Evoxyz Technologies.
A Gurgaon-based company, Evoxyz means evolution of xyz (any) technology. She shares, “We as a team feel that creating enormous use cases irrespective of the technology used to create that experience.”
Evoxyz provides a highly configurable and scalable platform for micro-location tracking that can easily be integrated by other solution providers to enable quick development of location-based solutions. The company has built two successful solutions — EvoSchool and EvoTag. The former is a child security solution which provides real-time location alerts through GPS tracking, location log, and auto attendance from the school’s premises to the parent app. Shilpa uses it to track the school bus that ferries her daughter.
EvoTag is a home security solution wherein the consumer buys a small chip-based hardware, configures it with a companion app, and deploys it in their home. Each time there is intrusion detection, EvoTag alerts the owner. “EvoTag is always with me to help me find my car keys as I have a habit of leaving them anywhere,” she says.
Born out of a passion for technology, Evoxyz was envisioned in 2014 with a vision to develop a contextual platform for micro-location enabled IoT. Of the three co-Founders, Shilpa and Abhishek Singh, who met at work, have been friends for more than a decade. The third Co-founder, Sukhesh Madaan, is Shilpa’s next-door neighbour. The three technologists decided to utilise their expertise to create innovative products as they were driven by a common cause.
“Child security is one of the key issues which our nation is struggling with, and some of us, being parents, felt the need to come up with a comprehensive solution which could also make a social impact. This idea led to EvoSchool, and forging ahead, we went on to build Evoxyz,” she says.
Learning all the way
“As a computer science graduate, I eat, drink, and breathe technology,” says the 39-year-old who started her career as an embedded programmer and has since worked with organisations such as C-DOT, Aricent, and Hughes Group.
“At C-DOT, I was part of the team which built the entire Fibre Access System deployed in India. At Hughes Group, I was fortunate to work in technologies like data communications, wireless broadband, and then finally mobile terminals. The key highlights have been immense exposure to technology and geographies. I got immense experience in starting a business unit from scratch and making it profitable. This is what gave me the confidence and motivation to run a company of my own.”
One of her key learnings, however, has been that relationships matter. “A good relationship is extremely important to execute a business in the global ecosystem. A lot of my industry connects have helped me take Evoxyz to new heights,” she says. At Evoxyz, Shilpa looks at business development but is hands-on with the product and what the developers are doing.
Women in technology — college and workforce
She completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering from PEC University of Technology in Chandigarh in 1998. In her batch, the ratio of women was 1:10, so out of 330 students, only 30 were women.
“Women and technology have always been a rare combination and unfortunately it has not changed much over the years. The good news is that with a global platform to play on and awareness for gender inclusivity, more and more women are coming to the forefront. Things are changing for the better as technology and social systems have evolved,” she says.
As a woman, the only challenge she sometimes faces is the limited capability to establish an instant rapport “as the other side may not take you seriously,” she says. “However, I guess things have evolved, and all startup journeys are full of struggles and challenges. On the contrary, I sometimes feel that being a woman helps, as even if there are no synergies, out of respect, potential customers give you a patient hearing and it gives a better chance to give your pitch.”
As an entrepreneur, her key challenge is to make the customer realise the true value of the product, since technology is not a straightforward use case like FMCG products. Since there is no touch and feel involved, the customer finds it extremely difficult to understand its value.
The other challenges are finding good talent and being patient, especially on the days things are difficult and one is questioning one’s own decisions.
Keeping up with technology
Born in the small town of Ghaziabad and brought up in Chandigarh, she met her husband on her first job. Married to an IIT Roorkee graduate, Shilpa says, “Most of the talk around the house and the lingo is tech. My 11-year-old daughter is growing up in an atmosphere where her exposure to technology is high and she is also a witness to my challenges and life as an entrepreneur.”
Technology is a part of her daily life and Shilpa cannot survive without her Android phone and her laptop. Other than EvoTag and EvoSchool, she uses WhatsApp, Facebook, and LinkedIn, Snapdeal, Amazon for online shopping, and MyAirtel for paying bills.
She keeps herself updated by reading blogs such as TechWiz. She also likes to read SearchTelecom and HighOnAndroid. “I also try and spend time with my young engineers and have knowledge-sharing sessions whenever possible to be abreast of consumer internet apps and of course, discounts,” she reveals.
Tech trends and future plans
Shilpa thinks that the IoT space and Artificial Intelligence are the two big things which will revolutionise the world the way smartphones did in the late ’90s. “If IoT data is clubbed with context, it will become a powerful tool to predict things which we could not even have imagined.”
In the next five years, they plan to establish Evoxyz as a market leader in providing micro- location tracking platforms to institutions of all shapes and sizes, across the country. They also intend to place the company on the global map in the coming years.
“As a part of the company’s expansion plans, we aspire to create multiple solutions over the Evoxyz platform and keep establishing the brand in the upcoming IoT market. The company will be gearing up to raise funds for the next 1–2 years so that it is able to invest its energies in building a platform that can disrupt the current state-of-the-art offerings.”
In the next couple of years, Evoxyz plans to set up an end-user customer base of at least 10 percent of the available market, which means approximately 20 million users in the next 2–3 years.
More women in technology
Shilpa wants to see more and more women CTOs in companies. “Women are more hardworking and emotional, and they use that sensitivity to their benefit when it comes to work. So more and more women should get into technology, and with their hard work and sensitivity they can easily ride up the ladder of success.”