With ISRO, BEL as its clients, this wireless and semiconductor company is seeing Rs 75 Cr turnover
In 2000, Vishwakumara Kayargadde and Parag Naik founded Smart Yantra to solve communication problems. The company served various clients, including Genesis Microchip, which acquired Smart Yantra in 2004.
The duo worked with Genesis Microchip till 2007, helping the company develop technologically-advanced solutions for the network communications. During this time, they met Hemant Mallapur. The trio, with their years of experience, decided to start Saankhya Labs to give wireless and semiconductor solutions across the world.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Vishwakumara Kayargadde, Co-founder and CEO of Saankhya Labs, said:
“We started Saankhya Labs in 2007 in Bengaluru with a vision to develop architecture and chipsets to address a variety of challenges in the design of communication systems. The first focus area was to build highly programmable and efficient Software Defined Radio (SDR) chipsets.”
In a span of 13 years, Saankhya Labs has managed to sign ISRO, BEL, Sinclair Broadcast Group, USA, and many others as its clients, and is now seeing Rs 75 crore turnover.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory: How did Saankhya Labs diversify into so many categories?
Vishwakumara Kayargadde: Saankhya Labs is a wireless and semiconductor solutions company, which was founded with the focus to build highly programmable and efficient Software Defined Radio (SDR) chipsets.
Although the original plan was to sell chips, we soon realised our customers are looking for complete systems or modules. This led us to develop products and systems based on the chip. The flexible architecture and programmability of the chip allowed us to build systems for a variety of communication applications. Today, our main focus is on satellite communications, long-range wireless communications, 5G broadcast and technology for defence radios. We have built many products in these verticals.
Our SDR chipset is based on a multi-core architecture consisting of several Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) designed to handle a wide verity of wireless communication waveforms. SDR chipsets enable the building of flexible radio receivers supporting multiple-standards.
Saankhya’s first SDR chipset, called “Pruthvi”, launched in 2011, supports over 20 waveforms by simply changing the software. In 2018, the next generation of chipsets based on “Pruthvi3” architecture were launched. These chipsets enable Direct To Mobile (DTM) TV reception and support 5G broadcast reception on smartphones.
In 2015, we joined hands with ISRO as a technology partner, and also bagged a contract from BEL to provide solutions for tracking locomotives.
We work on Fabless technology, which has very few foundries in India. Hence, we outsource the products to Taiwan and Korea, and the design is provided by us.
SMBS: How did you raise investment?
VK: Saankhya Labs has worked extensively with strategic investors. For the first four years, we went with angel funding. We started pitching to VCs in 2008, but we didn’t find success. But we found success with strategic investors who had used the products and solutions we were developing.
We got our first series A funding from Intel. Then we went on to raise our subsequent rounds with strategic partners and strategic investors, including General Motors.
Later, we transformed ourselves from a chip company to a systems company. In the most recent round, we had a strategic investor in Sinclair Broadcast, which wanted to introduce the next-generation TV technology.
An important aspect of raising funding is partnerships. Not just as an investor, but a big company can have strategic interest in terms of its own business plans. It does not necessarily need to have the kind of expertise, and hence it looks for funding companies like Saankhya Labs.
SMBS: What are your challenges in terms of sustaining the business, and how are you differentiating from the competition?
VK: Getting the timing of a product right is a science and art one continuously learns in this business. We take bets with very little information/data and go with a gut feeling. This can sometimes lead to bringing out products too early to the market.
Saankhya Labs operates in three-to-four major areas - satellite communications, long-range wireless communications, 5G broadcast and technology for defence radios. Put together, the market size is over $10 billion.
Our products bring unique technology, directly providing a reduction in product development and deployment time, increased product flexibility, reduced time-to-market, capex, and opex reduction.
SMBS: What are your future prospects?
VK: The future seems bright as we are expecting to crack more deals with the US and Europe. We thought COVID-19 would impact us heavily, but it did not due to people shifting their business setup from China. The countries are switching to other technology providers and we are in the race. We are soon coming up with 5G solutions.
Edited by Megha Reddy