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Tapping Solar Energy and giving new touchstone to innovators

Gandharv S Bakshi
Co-Founder-Lumos Design Technology
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Gandharv S Bakshi
Founded in 2012, Lumos Design Technology is headquartered in Bangalore and specializes in solar energy, research and development, apparel design, accessories design and electrical design. The company has raised Rs.25 lakhs funds from Google India.

In 2012, we started Lumos Design Technology, which is probably India’s first wearable technology company. We started Lumos with a mission to tap a majority of the 500W of energy that falls on us every day, and use it for various purposes. Our first commercial product is a Solar Backpack (that can charge phones) but we are also working on a range of Solar Jackets (that charge phones in your pocket) and Solar T-shirts (that can play videos). Some of these products are being made for the first time in the world, right here in India. While it is a satisfying journey, it is also a very challenging one. Some of these challenges might be specific to innovating in a Start-up in India.

Fundamentally innovation and uncertainty go hand-in-hand. This uncertainty could be at multiple levels – would you be able to create the technology, would you be able to manufacture the product and would you be able to sell it? An innovator requires the eco-system to adjust to this uncertainty.

To be able to create the technology (i.e., perform the actual Research and Development) you need three things – talent, guidance/mentoring and the raw material. Finding talent is a significant challenge for our ecosystem since very few engineers/scientists have worked in Wearable Technology before. This can be dependent on the sector – for example, Bangalore now boasts of significant talent in Internet and Mobile technologies and R&D talent may not be as big a challenge in those sectors. Finding guidance can be another significant problem – as an innovator, you are looking for mentoring from someone who has a broad knowledge of all the technological developments in this field and has also perfected the process of converting ideas to usable technology.

To be able to make the product (or prototypes), you need support from two external parties – suppliers and manufacturers. A new innovative offering is unlikely to provide the volumes that some of the best suppliers and manufacturers demand. Hence, the innovator can be stuck with a below-par manufacturer or supplier. At Lumos, in order to work with the best, we have not only provided financial incentives (like higher margins) but also soft ones (like telling them the Lumos story and the exciting road-map). Public Relations and being backed by a well-known entity (the Managing Director of Google India, in the case of Lumos) helps tremendously in these aspects.
Additionally, we have had to procure components from all across the world – innovating close to a manufacturing base (like China) has proved to be helpful. Yet, importing a majority of the components usually affects the innovator financially.

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