Overcoming Initial Challenges | Bhaskar Raghunathan at Takvaviya

In part one of my conversation with Bhaskar Raghunathan, he talked about how his background in image processing and data visualization brought him to found his first startup, Takvaviya, which analyzes drone image data in agriculture and solar industries.

In this second part of our conversation, Bhaskar talks about some of the challenges he overcame as a first-time founder, including an important story about the moment he realized the value of his product.

More information:

Bhaskar R is the Founder & CEO of Takvaviya Analytics, Inc. took to his calling of entrepreneurship when he identified the need for metric based productivity monitoring through intelligent data acquisition & processing. With a strong background in image processing & data visualization during his post-graduate days at IISc & key tech know-hows on product design, development & delivery, he took to the idea of data-driven decision making and productize them through machine learning models that cater to specific industries such renewable energy, agriculture & infrastructure where digital penetration to enhance & monitor productivity has been fairly minimal.

Possessing niche skills on system integration for large-scale businesses coupled with his team-building skills, he is at the forefront of disruptive data science enabling industries to gain key insights. Prior to founding Takvaviya, he was part of the key R&D teams at General Motors & Daimler India Commercial Vehicles. He is also an excellent mathematician and has mentored/trained more than 30 students for their masters at various IITs, Cornell & TU Munich.

Bhaskar is a qualified engineer with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Anna University and a Masters in Computational Mechanics & Image Processing from the Indian Institute of Science. He was awarded a PhD position by the prestigious Oxford University but he rejected the offer and took a conscious call of pursuing his dreams, being an entrepreneur.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Bhaskar Raghunathan 0:00
Now this grid and this grind that you need to have, and the conviction that you need to have the solution is what I would suggest that takes you a notch higher than all the other people.

Alexander Ferguson 0:18
In part one of my conversation with Bhaskar Raghunathan, he talked about his background in image processing and data visualization that brought him to found his first startup Takvaviya, which analyzes drone image data in agriculture and solar industries. In the second part of our conversation, Bhaskar tells us about some of the challenges he has overcome as a first time founder, including an important story, but the moment he realized the value of his product, we’re excited to have you come back and to dig in a little bit more of how you over the past four or five years, this being your first startup, how have you overcome challenges? And what what challenges have you faced that now you’re like, alright, that’s behind me that another entrepreneur, another startup founder could learn from what I’ve been able to achieve?

Bhaskar Raghunathan 1:04
Right? So one of the key things as an entrepreneur that you have is conviction, right? Action is conviction on the technology that you’re building. So the initial years when we started building a product, when we actually told clients that we could do a lot of asset management, just by collecting data from drones, because not greatly received, right, we were operating in India, so they were looking at, okay, I know you guys can collect a lot of images and videos. I mean, what am I going to do with that video? What am I going to do with those images? So it took a lot of education for the client, we had to educate people. So conviction and time to actually go through the grind. On when do you make your first sale? Right? So I get a small snippet story here. So when we did our first POC, as a proof of concept to one of our clients, we were just doing the testing of our UAV on collecting data. And we were right, very close to a construction site. And we just asked him, Can I fly the drone? He’s like, okay, fine, you can go ahead and then do it. Do send me the video, once you do it. I said, we’re just gonna collect images. And we’re not going to do any video. It’s like, okay, that’s what he said. And then we collected those images. Within two hours, we were able to provide him with a report on what’s the inventory in his construction site? What are all these locations? What’s the amount of cement? What’s the amount of brick? What’s the amount of sand? Every single day, we were able to show it to him? And he was like, wow, this is cool. I usually take a week to get this. And then he asked me, How much do you charge for this. And then I said, Then I said, just give me some time, I will go back to my drawing board and then come back to the figure. Now, that’s when our use case actually was born. We understood now. So when you actually provide good value information

Alexander Ferguson 2:53
submarine and say, Hey, how much does that cost? Exactly. And

Bhaskar Raghunathan 2:57
then I understood, okay, people are willing to pay for this, right. And that’s when we understood right now, this did not come over time. I mean, it was not over a two month period, we took close to a year to get it, right. But till then we were producting. We were trying, we are trying. And then after all this, we were we were able to sell and we started selling services, people started accepting, okay, aerial mapping is a good solution for us to actually start mapping assets. Now, there came a period after when people got to know that area, I think is a really good solution. One year one and a half years into this, there comes the next problem, right, and you have too many competitors that are at least a dozen of them doing very similar stuff, technology gets known. People learn this. And then that’s when people say everybody’s doing it, what differentiates you. And that’s when we went back to driving. Okay, we have another problem to solve. Now. It’s been one year, we’ve been challenged greatly. Now let’s go back. And then we started building a platform, right, we started showing data not just as mere reports and arguments, he started building a platform. So we gave them a map of sorts that’s on the browser, you anybody could go into Google Chrome, or probably a Firefox and then just log in to the portal and then see what’s actually happening to the asset. And that’s when we went a notch higher when compared to some of our competitors. Now, this grid and this grind that you need to have and the conviction that you need to have your solution is what I would suggest that takes you a notch higher than all the other people around

Alexander Ferguson 4:25
you have to have that that knows that I what I’m what I’m building it has value I’m working on it and even if he doesn’t show up right away, and I love your point of getting after you’ve taken the time of the year, however long it takes to build that first part of it just get out there and and when you hear oh, how much does that cost? Well great. Let me figure that out. And then you can take it from there right in that process and from initial that guy wants something and so you started to develop that the business model around it till now where you are today. I mean how many clients are Are you able to have on your platform on a regular basis,

Bhaskar Raghunathan 5:02
on a regular basis, we’re looking at at least 20 to 25 clients. Right now, we’re looking to scale it up. Once we move on to the subscription model, we’ll have much more than we got what we can,

Alexander Ferguson 5:14
what did it take to really get those first couple clients on board and paying your regular basis?

Bhaskar Raghunathan 5:19
That’s okay. So the key thing here is consistency in solutioning. Right, so we got a whole bunch of customers right now who are actually come to us for past three years, right? The first time when you deliver a solution, you learn the industry with the client. Invariably, the best thing that could happen with your first customer, your first customer is always the best, when that you get your first customer, you make him always happy, he always stays with you, right. Now, the first time, when you start learning with him, he teaches you the tricks of the trade, he tells you, you need to do this, this is what we are expecting more and very frequent interactions with him, will give you much more insights on how your product could actually fine. Now once you get that in place, he is going to stick with you. So irrespective of whatever be the the size of the business that he might give you, but he is going to teach you on how your product is going to refine, right. That’s key. Now, that is something that we have been able to build it across sectors. So some of the key clients that we have, do come back to us every single time and then tell, why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do this? Now, any new use case that’s completely different from them? Also falls into our plotter, right? I mean, we are a complete image analytics company into drones, we were asked to solve a problem on a completely different set of sensor requirements, just because they saw the value in how we build a solution. Right? Now, that’s when you get to know right, okay, this client is completed with us, he is going to give us he believes that we actually add value to what we are building. So and that’s when it gets it gets really bad.

Alexander Ferguson 6:56
I’m gonna close this out with one last question, what kind of tech and innovation do you predict we’ll see in the near term, and the long term. So the next year or two that we’ll see. And then the long term, 10 years.

Bhaskar Raghunathan 7:08
Right. Now, one of the key things that I’m looking forward to probably what I feel would be the the next kicker would be computer vision that’s actually growing, but it is going to grow at levels. And parallel to what we are seeing right now. There is going to be much more interaction, there is going to be much more use cases completely different use cases, that’s going to come in the field of computer vision. In the next decade, I would say the interaction between computer vision and blockchain is what is going to be disruptive. You have not seen such an interaction. That’s going to happen. Now how computer vision and blockchain is going to interact with each other. One of the use cases that came to us when when we were talking with a lot of bunch of people three years back, can we use blockchain to control drones in space right now? By never understood that question in the first place. But the guy who was thinking of this came up with this idea, is there a possibility that we could do it, but we don’t have so many number of drones that’s actually moving in our airspace phase right now, right? You don’t see drones right over your head, right. But we will be heading there the next five years, we see a lot of drones that are coming up. Now, once that is in place, 10 years down the lane, you will have so many drones, you’ll have so much data. And you need to have a blockchain interface in place to actually monitor who is capturing what data and you need to have a computer vision algorithm that’s going to actually tell you how these systems interact with each other. This is what I foresee in at least the next 10 years. It might be a wild dream. But I feel this could be a potential game changer.

Alexander Ferguson 8:58
Yeah, you you intrigue me on this, this feature of this, this combination. I’d never put them two together. And I love I love kind of the direction that you paint. So thank you so much for your insight and this journey that you’re going on. And I’m excited to see where you go next.

Bhaskar Raghunathan 9:13
Yeah, thank you so much, Alex. It was nice. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Alexander Ferguson 9:16
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.



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