India's cheapest welding simulator, SkillVeri, raises Rs 8 Cr from Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Ankur Capital

13th Jan 2017
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Skillveri Pvt. Ltd, a skilling platform that trains workers for manufacturing and production jobs, has raised a Series A round of investment of Rs 8 crore from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Ankur Capital. Ankur Capital had already infused some funds into the startup in the form of a seed investment in 2015. The creators of the first welding simulator made in India, Skillveri will leverage this investment to enable the training of 500,000 youth for well-paying aspirational manufacturing jobs over the next five years.

skillveri
(L to R) Sabarinath C Nair, a prototype of their welding simulator, and L. Kannan

Skillveri is also eyeing four new industries and six geographies, besides the manufacturing sector, with this new fund infusion, including areas like painting, paramedical procedures and jewellery making, where manual dexterity is highly valued. "Our unique ‘psycho-physics’-driven approach enables us to develop targeted products across domains through digital dexterity mapping," says Sabarinath Nair, Founder and CEO, Skillveri.

Founded in 2012 by Sabarinath and L. Kannan, Skillveri was incubated at the Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI) in IIT Madras to provide vocational skill training at significantly lower costs through its innovative, scalable platforms of multi-skill simulators. They also went on to build the most widely installed simulator in the welding domain, which trains low-income youth with high-quality manufacturing skills. This is the only indigenous simulator in the market, and is currently available at half the price offered by its nearest competitor.

"With the government’s Make in India programme expected to create 90 million new manufacturing jobs in 10 years, a well-trained workforce is crucial for its success. Skillveri addresses this by using cutting-edge technology to meet the challenges of quality and scale," says Sabarinath.

Skillveri had clocked Rs 4 crore in revenues till the end of the last financial year, and claim that they are likely to cross that figure this year. Through their welding simulators, more than 12,000 students from various backgrounds, like school dropouts, ITI students, polytechnic students, and engineering students, from all over the country have been trained. Last month, they even exported their simulators to the UAE and Bhutan.

What piqued the interest of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is that manufacturing contributes 25 percent to India’s GDP, and that for the skilled youth of today, jobs in manufacturing also represent higher earning potential than retail or service sector jobs. "The shared values and mission is what attracted us to Skillveri, and we are excited to join them on their journey of transforming manufacturing skill training in the country,” says Rahil Rangwala, Director, Family Economic Stability at the foundation.

Rema Subramanian, Partner, Ankur Capital, who is also joining the board of directors at Skillveri, said, “Skill shortage is a global challenge, and we strongly believe in the potential of Skillveri’s technology to address the same. With our seed investment in 2015, Skillveri has not only launched a range of cutting-edge simulators, but also received validation from various customer segments, across both industry and academia. Our participation in follow-on funding along with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in their Series A fund raise is a reflection of our confidence in Skillveri’s global potential.”

After establishing market leadership with a range of welding-training products, a slew of new offerings is in the pipeline for Skillveri, including spray painting, gold-jewellery soldering and medical skills.

Since 2006, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has invested more than Rs 983 crore in non-profits and social enterprises in India. Meanwhile, Ankur Capital is a SEBI registered early-stage venture capital fund and has invested in seven companies across education, agriculture and healthcare, at the intersection of technology and business model innovation, so far.

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