After one near miss and an attempt he’d rather not talk about, 37-year-old Satish Kashyap’s third stab at entrepreneurship may well have been strike three for the serial entrepreneur. However, the prospect of being transported back to his days hacking away at information technology, for once, seemed appealing to the otherwise wary IT guy. A survey of the trends washing up ashore, that looked disruptive but would only have converted to permanent settlements in our ecosystem with sound data collection and analytics, led him to take his leap - not so much of faith as it was of conviction - a third time around.
Rule of thirds
Satish had started his career in the IT space, but made the transition to finance. “However, I realized that I basically needed more adventure than a job offered, which led me from one roller coaster to the next,” he says, of his plunge.
However, he doesn’t feel like he ever had a eureka moment. “Running around naked is not one of my strengths. I had spent quite some time in the energy sector and had developed a good network. There was significant investment in wind, solar, and energy projects by leading global funds. These projects offered an opportunity to enhance return through solid data analytics. We aimed to fill that gap,” he says. Together with Pallavi Narvekar — a fellow engineer from Mumbai University with two decades of experience in multi-platform app development — Satish laid the foundation for Algo Engines.
Algo Engines uses machine learning to provide operational intelligence such as real-time monitoring, performance analytics, accurate energy forecasts and failure prediction for the wind, solar, and hydroelectric segments of the energy industry. It provides user-friendly dashboards and automatic email notifications to leading energy-OEMs, who can monitor their energy generating assets in real time via tablets and mobile devices (iOS and Android) from anywhere.
Its secure cloud-based infrastructure and robust machine learning platform support both small and large energy portfolios and go beyond monitoring and reporting to data analytics, data mining, forecasting, and prediction.
The company offers an operating cost model in which customers are charged only for the assets under management with Algo. A fixed monthly rate per megawatt is charged, typically in the region of $60.
Boring means, enthralling ends
Since the launch, the strategies employed to build traction and acquire clients were pretty much the ABCs of building rock solid customer bases. “Our approach, for want of another word, is boring — listening to customers and trying to improve, looking at competition and other sectors and trying to improvise. There was a lot of going back to prospects and showing what we were doing to get new clients,” Satish says of his simple hacks.
Their first customer was actually looking to sell his wind turbine. “We analysed the data and saw that with some improvement in maintenance the customer could get a better deal. This consulting opportunity opened our eyes to the value of data analytics in the sector,” he recalls.
Unfortunately, something the young bootstrapped team has learnt the hard way is that the Indian consumer needs nudging to pay up. “We have been struggling to ensure collection in time to pay the bills. We have realised that constant follow-up is a given in the Indian context,” says Satish.
Change is in the air
200–400 MW of assets have been added per quarter. Since acquiring its first customer in 2014, Algo already supports over 2,500 MW of wind and solar capacity across India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan. It is on course to add European clients in 2016 and tap into the North American market in 2017. The company is officially profitable, with annual revenues of Rs 1–3 crore. “We aim to add a customer in a new country per quarter during the current year. We reach prospects through industry events, social media, and cold calls — more boring stuff,” says the man who, we have a feeling, knows the power of the basics.
They aim to service close to 20 GW of capacity in the coming years. This would be a 10X spurt compared to their numbers from last year. “We have reasonable amount of competition; our differentiation lies in the use of machine learning and incremental use of cloud computing to deliver on user expectations,” says Satish.
The Tech30 ride
With a senior co-founding team that has a strong grasp on the domain, Algo Engines is aiming at bringing about efficiency in the innovation-starved energy sector. Bootstrapped and profitable, Algo Engines is hitting all the right notes to make a dent in the sector, and also on this year’s Tech30 list, being on which was much needed validation for the changeling. “Tech30 reaffirms our view that we are on track to build a leading product for the energy space. Every feather in our cap helps us in this journey of many miles,” he concludes