This woman entrepreneur’s deeptech startup aims to enable digital transformation of factories using AI/ML
After spending more than a decade in the corporate sector in companies like Accenture and Intel in both India and abroad, Shubha Prasanna craved the adrenaline rush, which she felt only entrepreneurship could give her.
Her “Aha” moment came when she was first introduced to embed designs. “I realised the potential hardware development had along with software and the huge gap that existed in the Indian ecosystem, more so in the manufacturing sector. At that time, it was more of “if not now, then when?”, she says.
In May 2015, Shubha along with her co-founder, Venkatesh Prasanna, started, a deeptech startup in Bengaluru that manufactures innovative industrial-grade wireless IIOT sensors and offers value-added software solutions that help manufacturing plants digitise and transform themselves into smart factories of the future.
Shubha is a telecommunications engineer with a penchant for problem solving. She says she developed a strong liking for computer programming and algorithms early on and dabbled in various application areas ranging from neural sciences to CPU architecture.
Prior to Embedsense, Venkatesh held various leadership roles in Intel Corporation for over 18 years both in California and Bengaluru. He holds a master’s degree in Electronics from LSU and an MBA from the University of California (Davis). He also has international patents and publications to his credit.
Explaining the company’s offering, Shubha says, “ESS sensors are retrofittable and gather mechanical, electrical, and activity-based signatures from machines. By incorporating AI and ML techniques, data from sensors is analysed at the edge to generate insights that are used to monitor the health of various kinds of machinery. High precision engineering and deliberate efforts are involved in the development of all the sensors, which are meant to withstand industrial temperatures and harsh environments while being complaint to international standards.”
EmbedSense Solutions’ offerings cater to injection moulding, die casting, stamping, forging, and material handling industries as well.
Its industrial products are agnostic to the manufacturing vertical with target markets being foundries, moulding shops, automotive parts manufacturers, forging, food processing, and FMCG industries in India.
Towards better operational efficiency
The company’s revenue streams are three-pronged - sale of hardware, software licensing, and SaaS subscription, with major clients from enterprises as well as SMEs.
“With our solutions, any customer can realise operational efficiencies making them more competitive, make up for skilled labour shortage, lower cost of operations and bring about transparency and quality control thereby increasing customer base,” she adds.
Shubha believes while its competitors like SE, Siemens, and ABB operate in this segment, their services are unaffordable by Indian SMEs. Bootstrapped so far, the founders are looking for funding to scale up and go international.
The company is one of the shortlisted startups at The Qualcomm Design in India Challenge – 2020, an initiative by Qualcomm started in 2016 to encourage design houses and product companies to invent useful and innovative hardware product designs incorporating Qualcomm chipset platforms and technologies. It is inspired by the tremendous potential of Smart Devices and products that can be built in the domains of Smart Infrastructure, Biometric Devices, Medical Technology, and Rural IoT. For 2020, the challenge also included 5G use cases and applications that use NavIC capability on mobile devices.
With COVID-19 impacting the manufacturing sector negatively, its ripple effect was seen on EmbedSense as well. “We have started seeing traction since late last year and we hope to see a deluge to make up for all lost opportunities,” Shubha says.
The startup is looking at the Indian market at present before venturing abroad. The founders are strong believers in computer scientist Alan Kay’s "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware". This, she says, has been validated many times, even during her FEBI delegation trip to Berlin and while talking to industry bodies in the US.
Shubha believes entrepreneurship is all about driving/delegating/doing work in the right way to ensure everything is working like a well-oiled engine.
“Dream big, plan well, revisit your plans as many times as you want to keep your end goal in mind. After you embark on the journey, don’t look back. Look for escapes from time to time to maintain your sanity,” she says.