A young engineer from Delhi set his mind to making smart homes a reality for the common man and set up Octise.
Founders: Ujjwal Syal (Founder), Aayush Saini (Operations)
Year it was founded: 2017
Where is it based: Delhi
The problem it solves: Cost-efficient home automation solutions
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
"I live alone, and honestly, I am very forgetful about things in the morning when in a rush for work. A few days ago, I left the geyser on by mistake, and remembered only when I was in office," says Siddharth Mehra, a senior executive at KPMG.
Most of us relate to this despite knowing that forgotten tasks like a geyser or an iron left on could lead to serious repercussions. Also, there are the lazy ones who would rather leave a light or fan on, than get up to turn it off. For Ujjwal Syal, the answer to this was home automation.
Ujjwal set up Octise in 2017, which makes devices that allow one to control appliances using a smartphone. Satisfaction of being on the right path came when visiting a customer’s house, he saw a stack of things piled up in front of the switchboard, and on being asked about it, Ujjwal’s customer said:
"We don’t need the switchboards anymore. You have ensured that we have everything we need on our phones."
Octise devices are designed to fit in existing switchboards, so a user does not need to change the wiring of the house. Appliances connected to the nodes of the device can be accessed remotely through a smartphone. All switches connected to the device work in synchronisation with the app, and if one turns an appliance on or off using a switch, it reflects on the app.
The three types of devices - 4 Node, 1 Node and Smart plug, have individual applications with different kinds of electrical appliances, depending on the voltage and load suitability.
"It is simple to share access with other users to allow shared control over appliances, and revoke when not needed. I feel this kind of a better control over your home can help you save up to 30 percent energy. Easy on your pocket, healthier for the environment."
Born and raised in Delhi, 24-year-old Ujjwal completed his engineering in Computer Science from NIIT University and has experience with projects in software development, cyber-security, computer vision, machine learning, electronics and electrical engineering.
A technology enthusiast, he puts practical application of new-age technology above its theoretical knowledge. He says, "I have always believed that the strength of technological advancements can only be determined by how it impacts and improves the quality of a common man’s life."
Keen on becoming an entrepreneur, Ujjwal sought to build a solution that leveraged technology for every common household.
"Today, we are living in a 'connected world' where everything around us is getting smarter – there are smart watches, smart phones, smart beds, smart lighting and so on. Given this, it was only logical to envision a future in which 'smart homes' would become a reality. Thus, the idea of Octise was born."
The company got its first set of customers through word-of-mouth, and by interacting with a select group of people who seemed keen on learning about the technology. "This is how we found more leads and converted them. As a policy, we also offer a one-week free demo to our potential customers to get first-hand experience of Octise Smart Homes," he said.
"Other than our smart home devices, we also develop specific IoT products for enterprises like start-ups and restaurants who are looking for innovative ways to solve a problem," Ujjwal says.
Octise sells smart home devices directly to end customers, and also through tie-ups with builders who are constructing new properties. Ujjwal says,
"We haven’t started looking for funding so far. We started with some bootstrapped funds and have earned some revenue in the recent past which has kept us running. Most of our operations are outsourced and we implement a detailed quality check process to make sure all operations are running smoothly. This has significantly reduced our overheads. We’ll proactively start looking for funding in near future."
Octise has only been in the market for six months and Ujjwal says his customers have been very supportive.
"They love the product and market it to their peers, which gets us more leads. This is true for both our channels, B2C and B2B sales. We have installed 60 devices in the past four months alone, through offline marketing channels only. We are soon to launch online marketing campaigns as well," he said.
Home automation systems consist of hardware, communication, and electronic interfaces that work to integrate various electrical devices. This enables household activities to be regulated by a centralised system like a smartphone.
Ujjwal claims Octise devices are much more cost-efficient than other alternatives and do not take much time to set up. Octise does not follow a hub-based solution, which implies each device runs independently, and consumers do not run the risk of their entire 'smart home' system breaking down due to any glitch in the single, centralised device that integrates all appliances.
If there is poor internet connectivity, the timer set on any appliance does not get off, unless you reset it manually.
"Octise is currently leveraging on BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology to create indoor localisation. This implies that soon, the devices will be able to gauge if you are moving from one room to another and operate all connected appliances accordingly. This entire process will be automated and made very user-friendly. The prototype of the same is ready and the team is currently working on integrating it with the Octise devices."
Octise has three products priced between Rs 8000 and Rs 5500. The startup has made Rs 12 lakh selling its devices so far. "By the end of 2020, our aim is to start converting at least 500 homes into ‘smart homes’ every year."
From an industry perspective, Octise plans to soon move from individual smart devices to seamless home connectivity and smart living. As sensor technologies, smarter robotic appliances, voice command technology further simplify our lives by employing multi-sensing home automation devices, Octise aims to bring value in this field.