Keeping a check on counterfeits, this startup's SaaS solution ensures brand authenticity

Founded in 2018, Ennoventure addresses issues arising from counterfeiting across industries with a non-disruptive solution for verifying product authenticity.
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Over the last few years, the demand for contactless payments and other digital payment methods in India has significantly surged. While digital adoption has its benefits, it has also attracted fraudsters who put consumers in danger of buying counterfeit goods, many of which are hard to spot. 

The annual predicted loss from counterfeiting in India across sectors including FMCG, currency notes, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and automobiles is estimated to be around Rs 1 lakh crore, according to the report by the Authentication Solution Providers' Association.

Recent developments in computer vision and machine learning have also made it easier to copy product packaging designs, which calls for anti-counterfeiting solutions. However, many of them require a huge process change needing extra capex investments. 

“The market is flooded with sticker-based solutions that lack transparency and dependability. To combat the issues of counterfeiting, businesses across all industry verticals must employ cutting-edge technology that provides confidence, transparency, and integrity to their stakeholders,” says Padmakumar Nair, CEO and Co-founder, Ennoventure, in a conversation with YourStory.

To combat counterfeiting issues, college batchmates Padmakumar Nair and Shalini Nair built SaaS startup Ennoventure Inc, which solves for brand authentication and engagement across industries, including FMCGs, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and luxury goods. 

Founded in 2018, Ennoventure addresses counterfeiting issues with a non-disruptive solution for verifying product authenticity, without having to change the client's existing package design and printing process. 

“Our anti-counterfeit solution adds an invisible cryptographic signature to the packaging, and leverages AI and cryptography to deliver authentication along with a connected packaging experience through smartphones,” he adds.

Inception

At MIT, Padmakumar learned that every five minutes, a child in Africa dies due to malaria—an entirely curable disease—only because of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs. This served as the trigger for him to ponder about anti-counterfeiting solutions. 

At the beginning of 2017, Shalini was running a product-based startup working on business intelligence and analytics when Padmakumar, her batchmate from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Kottayam, approached her to found Ennoventure. By August 2018, she had submitted two US patent applications—one of them was accepted in November of that year, and the other in February 2019.

The founders designed Ennoventure’s solution to specifically focus on protecting brand authenticity by securing the packaging and designs of companies—something that can be easily traced by everyone in the distribution chain.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US, with an R&D centre in Bengaluru, Ennoventure has a team of 69 employees across product, operations, sales and marketing, and HR.

While Padmakumar is responsible for the startup’s growth strategy and organisational vision, Shalini leads innovation and strategy.

How does it work?

The company’s SaaS product entails offering a portal for brands—Enncrypto, and a microsite and Vyu app for the end consumer. While available for both Android and iOS phones, the free app is login protected and restricted for use by the customers.

It enables brands to upload their artwork to the portal, and then download and print the encrypted artwork. Once its products are available in the market, the end consumer can upload a photo of the product on the microsite, which certifies it as either genuine or fake.

Padmakumar states, “Our product, Enncrypto, is designed keeping in mind our clients’ designing, printing, and packaging processes. We did not want to disrupt them, so, we built this software that can verify the authenticity of their products without changing or adding any steps to the process.”

“We use AI and cryptography to add an invisible cryptographic code to the packaging that counterfeiters would not be able to access. We also employ many ML models that can pick up suspicious activity. For example, a deep neural network spots potential counterfeit products and flags them, while the blockchain stores the ‘e-pedigree’ of the product—right from the time they were manufactured.” 

Founder and CTO Shalini further adds, “Operating on a SaaS model, Enncrypto is agile and inconspicuous. While other tracking solutions might be too obvious, Enncrypto is more reliable since it is not detectable. 

“This solution is highly cost-effective, and its agility allows it to be deployed in under 48 hours across multiple packaging designs. Every single person in the distribution chain—from the manufacturer to logistics support—can view the product and verify its authenticity, including the end consumer. Our technology is also educative since it carries information about the product itself, such as composition, date of manufacture, side effects, and more,” she adds.

Business model and traction

Ennoventure primarily operates on a B2B model, working with brand managers and product heads who want to secure the authenticity of their designs or packaging. While these tie-ups are its only source of earning, the startup hasn’t disclosed revenue details.

“We also target packaging heads as they are the ones concerned with authenticity and the brand for engagement. We club both (brand authentication and engagement) to give real experiences,” adds Padmakumar.

Currently, the startup is working with five undisclosed brands across industries.

Funding and way ahead

In April 2018, Ennoventure raised $500,000 in a seed funding round, followed by a Series A round of $5 million in 2021 from Fenice Investment Group, USA. It also raised $500,000 through a bridge round in between.

On the startup’s future plans, Padmakumar says, 

“We are constantly adding to both our product line and the geography covered. We are focusing on item-level fingerprinting as well as extending to encrypting products. A key focus area for our R&D and technology teams is sustainability and recycling, and we already have solutions that address carbon footprint reduction.”

Ennoventure’s recycling solutions include using e-leaflets instead of paper instruction booklets.

Currently, it operates across the US, Europe, India, Africa, and the Middle East regions, with plans to expand into the Asia-Pacific and Africa.

According to a new McKinsey Global Institute analysis, counterfeiting in a dozen technologies—ranging from mobile internet to cloud computing and advanced genomics—could have a combined economic impact of $550 billion to $1 trillion per year by 2025. International studies cite the global anti-counterfeiting market is $150–200 billion in size.

The startup competes with players like Alp Vision and Avery Dennison.

(The story was updated with an image and a correction on the malaria death rate. Also, the mention of the startup's ISO certifications was removed on account of their expiry.)

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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