This homegrown startup has created a plug-and-play product that can be integrated into existing applications and services to make them AR-enabled.
At a glance
Startup: Instrek Technologies
Founder: Sachin Diwakar, Manpreet Singh
Founded in: 2016
Based out of: Delhi-NCR
Services: Augmented reality platform for enterprises
Sector: Enterprise tech/SaaS
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
While it is true that new-age technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are yet to reach mass adoption, the buzz around them is palpable. Now-ubiquitous acronyms in the world of tech and gaming, AR and VR (along with AI) are said to be heralding a new era of unseen “experiences” across industries.
But, there is something that has been limiting about these emerging technologies so far. AR, particularly, has largely been “restricted” to gaming and social media apps. Instrek Technologies steps in right there.
This Noida-based startup set out to “expand the horizons” of AR by generating real-life use cases. Instrek wanted to establish that AR is much more than an incremental addition.
“AR is vast. Its usage can only be limited by one’s own imagination,” says one of the founders.
Instrek was founded by corporate dropouts Sachin Diwakar and Manpreet Singh in 2016. Both Sachin and Manpreet had travelled the world, overseeing and observing various innovations during their decade-long tech careers.
What emerged was this: people were looking at AR as a service and not as a product or platform. That is when the duo decided to “take the plunge”.
Sachin, Co-founder & CEO, Instrek, tells YourStory :
“We realised that it was now or never for us. It was the right time to utilise whatever we had gained in knowledge and R&D on augmented reality. We could have been a service company, we could have manufactured games for people. But, we wanted a product of our own.”
Sachin, now based in the UK, and Manpreet, who serves as Instrek’s CTO, along with a lean team of carefully chosen engineers went on to develop an AR platform that could be integrated with existing applications or technology products to give them a new dimension or functionality.
The platform AREFRA (AR-Enabled Framework) works on a plug-and-play model and makes a product/service AR-enabled. It helps businesses increase “their immersiveness” and “hand-time” on consumer mobiles. It makes a service more feature-rich and meaningful.
“Our framework can plug into anything. We’ve created an ecosystem based on AR and all other open source technology available in the market. What we are offering is a ready plug-and-play solution so that others don’t have to spend time and money on R&D.”
Was there a need for such a platform back in 2016? Or was it a bet ahead of its time?
Yes and yes.
Manpreet says, “We discovered that some big companies had invested a lot in AR. But the smaller and mid-sized ones found it difficult to implement the tech because there was no investment or infrastructure. We started approaching companies that wanted AR in mobile apps.”
“We’d spent a lot of time doing research in this space, reading up reports on trends, and we knew AR was about to peak in a few years. We wanted to stay ahead of the curve.”
The business model
Instrek is spread across India and the UK. The founders say there are “good leads” emerging in the UK market, where a host of real estate marketplaces are keen to integrate AREFRA in their product. UK's largest data-driven property portal (name undisclosed) is experimenting with it.
It plans to integrate AR in a way that helps people walking on a street buy houses in real time. They can point a phone camera to the building, look through floor plans, browse photos of the house, get additional information related to the property, and more.
“We are generating a real-life use case here. People aren’t thinking about the potential uses of AR. That’s where come in. We want to be the differentiator and help them imagine.”
The founders reveal that a large advertising agency in India is looking at Instrek’s platform for the “gamification of a product launch”. There would be AR-led activations at various locations as part of the launch.
Sachin says, “We work on a SaaS business model. There is a one-time integration fee and a month-on-month retainership. We work with our clients until they move on to new products.”
There are talks going on with two state governments as well. Instrek’s platform is being looked at for driving efficiencies in various government processes and initiatives.
The challenges so far
As with any bootstrapped startup, Instrek found it tough to hire people.
“Nobody wanted to leave their comfortable jobs to work for a startup that had no funding. It was also difficult to find engineers required for the kind of platform we were building. Not many people had prior experience in it.”
The geographical distance also burnt a hole in the founders’ pockets. Sachin says, “Things took a lot of time because of the way we were structured. We spent more time than we should have on the R&D process.”
The startup has a team of under 10 people and is being funded by its owners. Instrek says it will look at VCs or angel investors after acquiring two large customers “at least”.
Until then, they’ll let their imagination flow!