Pivot and Persist: This IoT startup has built a UV sterilisation device to combat coronavirus
Today, India is the second-worst-hit country by COVID-19. While living with the virus seems to be the only option for now, people across the world are taking utmost care to stay safe. At the same time, many startups have stepped up their innovation to fight the global pandemic.
Delhi-NCR based Emuron is one such startup that pivoted its business to sustain the pandemic. Founded by Kunal Garg and Vibhore Garg in 2018, Emuron is basically a product and services company that provides IoT and electric mobility solutions to industries. But now, due to the pandemic, it has pivoted itself and built ‘Virowave’, a UV sterilisation device.
According to the startup, the microwave-like disinfecting chamber can sterilise everyday items like groceries, mobile phones, cash, etc. The startup claims it has the ability to kill 99.99 percent of bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus, within minutes.
After working with startups for four years and a year in the corporate sector, Kunal realised his inclination was towards startups. He explored and dabbled around various ideas - from tech to fashion - and realised that he had a knack for technology.
Having good hands-on experience of building products, Kunal came up with an idea and pitched it to his distant relative, Vibhore Garg, who had worked for 20 years with MNCs in both technology and management. They got together and started Emuron with the simple proposition of building tech products for the untapped industries in India.
Initially, they tapped into the manufacturing sector and leveraged the power of IoT (Internet of things) to help the manufacturing industries. Soon, they did more such projects to build an Industry 4.0 platform that helps in the digital transformation of manufacturing plants. After gaining some initial momentum, the startup diversified into the field of electric mobility.
“We believe electric mobility will grow into an industry of its own, which will eventually overlap with all other industries,” says Kunal.
They on-boarded Rupali Khanna as the Director of Emuron and Vedant Khanna as the Product Lead. Rupali comes with manufacturing expertise in power systems and is also one of the co-founders of the company. She has over 20 years of experience across domains. Vedant holds an experience in product development and R&D in various fields – materials engineering and electrical/electronics.
Soon, Emuron, with its team of 15 members, turned into a full-stack platform providing IoT solutions for smart manufacturing and electric mobility.
As the team was setting up its new electric mobility vertical and gaining traction for Industry 4.0, the COVID-19 crisis surfaced. The startup soon paused the mobility business and started working towards a new strategy that can help the business stay afloat during the crisis.
The team brainstormed various ideas for products that can be of use during the pandemic. In April this year, it started building a UV sterilisation product. In just two months, the team launched Virowave.
Virowave - a portable UV sanitizer
Kunal says, “While a lot of startups have shut shop in the last four months, we have been successfully able to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 by temporarily pivoting ourselves. I believe agility and adaptability are a startup's biggest strengths, and it is times like these that the same is tested the most.”
“Now, with markets being opened, our primary business has again started picking up, and we are confident that we will be able to sail through the tough times.”
The UV-based sanitiser
According to the team, Virowave is a UV light-based device that uses German Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) technology to deactivate the DNA of several microbes that may be present on the surface of an object.
According to the founders, the Made-in-India, 28-liter disinfecting electronic chamber can sanitise groceries, mobile phones, cash, masks, files, etc., and basically anything that fits inside, within minutes.
The product is microbiologically tested for various families of bacteria and viruses from Kings George's Medical University in Lucknow.
According to the startup, Virowave has received positive responses from the medical fraternity and government authorities. The company claims to have won a tender from the Indian Railways as well, and is exporting as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to clients in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Since its launch, the startup has successfully shipped more than 1,500 orders and the product is also available on ecommerce platforms like Amazon.
The company recently introduced three new variants of Virowave with 54L, 180L, and 330L capacity for commercial applications. The bigger capacity models are being used in malls, industries, and offices to sanitise clothes, food, delivery packages, files, etc. The base model is priced at Rs 8,000, while the higher capacity model costs Rs 75,000.
However, Emuron faced many challenges in the initial days of building Virowave. The lockdown made it difficult for the startup in terms of coordinating the supply chain, building prototypes, and then testing. The team had to take special permissions to continue operations. Despite the extreme conditions, the team was able to build the product from concept to the market within two-months.
The business and future
The company follows a Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) model, and claims to be profitable as it gets paid for the product directly from its clients. It is also exploring subscription-based revenue models for few of its products under the electric mobility sector - battery IoT device, battery swapping station, electric vehicle charging station, etc.
Talking about competition, there are a lot of players that have come up with UV-based sanitisers in the last two to three months, including companies like Philips, Orient, Godrej, etc. Startups likehas developed a similar product called CoronaOven.
The bootstrapped startup believes it is important to have a product-market fit before getting investors on board as it gives better business visibility.
Emuron is currently in stealth mode, and is trying to build successful case studies. It also plans to raise investment in the near future for growth.
YourStory’s Pivot and Persist series spotlights Indian startups that are pivoting to seize new business opportunities, transforming their business models, and offerings to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis.