This Delhi-based startup helps utility companies manage their non-revenue water and daily consumption pattern through analytics platform. It also helps the end user manage the daily consumption of water along with leakage detection and bill payments.
Friends Nilay Mehrotra (24), Raj Garg (23), and Siddhant Srivastava (23) were driven by the need to find a solution to the real-life problem of managing non-revenue water.
After working for a while in different companies, the three regrouped to build their first product Varune, a smart water management solution which comes with a metering device based on a new technology, LoRaWAN.
LoRaWAN is a communication protocol that is used for M2M (machine to machine) communication of encrypted secure data. It has very low power consumption and long range which can go up to 10 - 12 Kms in rural areas. It works on unlicensed spectrum.
Varune helps utility companies to manage their non-revenue water and daily consumption pattern through an analytics platform, while allowing the end users to manage their daily consumption along with leakage detection and bill payments.
With a graduate degree in automobile engineering from UPES Dehradun, Nilay has worked with the automobile design firm DC Design and a couple of startups. Siddhant, a mechanical engineer from HBTI Kanpur, has worked with Hero MotoCorp while Raj, an alumnus of IIT Roorkee, has worked as a software engineer with a startup.
After leaving DC Design, Nilay worked at a startup, where he learnt about their work culture and functioning. In a casual conversation with Raj, Nilay mentioned how fascinated he was by the benefits of LoRaWAN. Raj shared this with Siddhant. Together, they launched their venture Chariot under which they developed Varune.
The first working prototype was made in January 2017, which helped them raise $70,000 from a US-based organisation. They utilised the money to promote their venture in Istanbul, Romania, Estonia, Belgium, and the US through strategic and technical collaboration.
Speaking of the times when they were working on the prototype, Nilay says,
“Initial days were indeed quite challenging. We were very new to the industry and had no other financial support apart from our savings. Moreover, we neither had a mentor nor industrial connections. All three of us invested a couple of lakhs from our savings to get going.”
He adds: “We had to go through a lot of challenges and several iterations as LoRaWAN is a very new technology; it was really a tough nut to crack.”
Addressing the core issue
According to Nilay, every month a city loses water worth Rs 60 crore as non-revenue water due to leakages and theft. Varune helps government bodies and private utility companies to manage and reduce this loss by up to 70 percent.
Even the end user can keep tabs on his / her daily water consumption on Chariot’s app which, in turn, creates a sense of transparency between the utility companies and the user.
The startup offers solutions under two verticals: One, end-to-end solutions including in-house devices and an analytics platform that solves a variety of issues. Two, an indigenous platform that helps individuals, startups, and business organisations to plug and play with any kind of devices.
Chariot offers platform as a service (PaaS) on a subscription basis and its fee depends on the number of uplinks/downlinks and the level of analytics the user wishes to subscribe to. The products and solutions pipeline include Varune (the smart water supply solution), Spark (the smart parking solution), and Flame (the smart gas supply solution).
Varune offers three different models with leakage detection and smart metering features. The prices range between Rs 2,900 to Rs 8,500. Spark and Flame are in various stages of development.
Working with a team of 10, this Delhi-based startup plans to expand to 50 smart cities by 2020 with a target of deploying hundred thousand different devices.
India is now a rapidly growing market for IoT solutions. According to Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2017, the market size in this area is expected to increase about seven times—from $1.3 billion last year to $9 billion by 2020.
Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices, other than computers and smartphones, that are connected to the internet. Deloitte estimates the current number of such devices in the country to be around 60 million.
The report says that the deployment of IoT solutions for digital utilities or smart cities and in the manufacturing, transport, logistics, and automotive industries will drive the demand for industrial IoT applications.
The urge to solve the water crisis has given a fillip to the smart management solution market with a handful of companies trying to grab a significant share.
SmarterHomes Technologies has developed WaterOn, an IoT-enabled water meter which measures water consumption and detects catastrophic and small leaks.
Another startup called FluxGen has developed a low-cost and local IoT solution for energy and water management so that you know exactly how much water you are using up for your bath. There are several other players who are betting high on smart water management with the help of IoT.