“Innovate aggressively and make use of the opportunities available to you”
Amarsh Chaturvedi and Ashwani Kumar – co-founders of Transerve Technologies share their experience and wisdom.
At a time, when smartphone maps take us anywhere – from the nearest eatery to a desired take away spot – a team of cartographers in Verna (Goa) is drawing maps to help make cities better. Amarsh Chaturvedi and Ashwani Kumar realized the potential of geographic input in decision making processes after their internship at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Their company – TranserveTechnologies – was the realization of their long-standing college dream. In 2012, Transerve was adjudged one of the finalists for “The Power of Ideas” – India’s largest startup scouting competition, sponsored by the Dept. of Science & Technology (Govt. of India) and managed by CIIE in partnership with The Economic Times. The Entre Club at IIM Ahmedabad recently got to opportunity to chat with Amarsh a Ashwani, and they had some interesting insights to share.
Setting up the base
Founded in 2009, Transerve Technologies is a hyperlocal information systems company that uses geographic intelligence to solve basic urban problems. “We work with municipal corporations in enhancing their revenue collection and manage it effectively for providing better citizen services,” says Amarsh, a 29-year-old civil engineer from IIT Kanpur. Their solutions help customers manage entire workforces, collect and analyze information, manage water resources, supply and distribution infrastructure and eventually help them monitor quality and quantity on a real-time basis.
The idea to set up Transerve germinated when the duo came back from their internship at DRDO, where they were introduced to real-life applications of Geospatial Technology. The realization that geographic input can play a major role in decision making was seeded at the back of Amarsh’s mind whilst working with Jones Lang LaSalle for a couple of years, where he started his career right after graduation. After gaining an exposure to industry processes and market approaches from the corporate world, Amarsh founded Transerve Technologies in December 2009, along with Ashwani.
As one of the finalists in The Power of Ideas 2012, Transerve succeeded in bagging seed funding from CIIE, bringing a paradigm shift to their business. CIIE helped them further in restructuring their financial model, which in Amarsh’s words “was extremely necessary for our (their) future plans” and, in connecting them with investors while they were trying to raise the next round of investment.
Day-to-day business of the start-up has been one huge learning experience in all aspects of the business ranging from sales, HR, management, technology upscale to accounting & finance. Transerve’s journey had all the typical start-up challenges: HR issues, funding, customers not paying in time, orders not coming through when expected, execution issues and the perpetual cash crunch. In the process, they went through two entrepreneurship-oriented management programs – one at CIIE and the other at Stanford Graduate School of Business – both of which they think played a powerful role in shaping them.
Working towards a better future
According to the co-founders, the sole motivation throughout the process has been the zeal to make Transerve a well-known and respected brand in geospatial intelligence around the world. They aspire to see Transerve as a leader in the geospatial industry, a complete solution provider in sustainable water solutions and helping shape cities in a better way. To maintain their competitive edge, they strongly believe in innovation – “You need to innovate on your offering, your sales & marketing and your team structure. Then you can be the most aggressive player in your domain.”
Talking about how difficult or easy it is to collaborate and work with government organizations, they candidly reply that they are like any other customer asking for the best value at the most affordable price. “You have to struggle to get the first big case, but if that goes well, referrals spread like wildfire and the first customer connects you to ‘n’ other customers,” they added.
Words of wisdom
Their message to the young entrepreneurs out there is, “We are at the perfect place to start up at the perfect time with the perfect people to help. We are not denying that there will be challenges; those challenges cannot be avoided as they are a part of the game. But we believe that the ecosystem in India is quite evolved and that the support structures are in place. Hence, aspiring entrepreneurs should make the best use of this opportunity.”
Particularly in the space of tech-driven start-ups, they see software-based technology products gaining more traction with customers and investors alike. Hardware-based solutions are also being looked upon with much more interest. Support structures in the form of incubators, accelerators and large scale programs like The Power of Ideas, DST Lockheed Martin Programme and others can be of immense help to aspiring technology entrepreneurs, and such opportunities are not to be missed.
– Originally written by G. Sameera Sree Deepti and Palak Garg (PGP) at The Entre Club; edited for the CIIE blog by Hina Nainani and Mohsin Bin Latheef.