It was a matter of pride for the enterprising quartet from IIT Bombay – Urmil Shah, Rohan Vadgaonkar, Prathamesh Joshi and Pushkar Limaye – to watch the mean machine they built storm down the Silverstone Circuit in England. The auto enthusiasts had developed a device that helped them track the performance of the vehicle from the pit, which led them to the launch their start-up, Carnot.
Launched in August 2015 with a seed fund of $500,000 from Freecharge founders, Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon, the team developed its first hand-soldered prototype of the smart car tracker, though it couldn’t survive humid weather conditions. A year-and-a-half and four iterations later, the auto tech firm had its beta product ready for a commercial launch in 2016. The market was already stocked with similar Chinese devices that could be plugged into the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port of a four-wheeler. However, with OBD ports in Indian vehicles not being standardised, these devices could not be picked up by just any car owner. That’s where Carnot raced ahead of its peers with a compact smart gadget that can not only track a vehicle, but also provide theft/towing/speeding alerts, record all trips undertaken and provide data for the same.
“The device can take away the worries of first time car owners or owners of chauffeur driven cars, fleet owners. It can also tell you if there’s anything wrong with the car and provides performance insights in to your driving. Think of it as Fitbit for your car,” explains Shah. Priced at Rs.5,999, this mouse-like device needs to be plugged into the OBD port, pair it with your phone and in under two minutes it’s in sync with your vehicle. The next time the red flight flickers on the dashboard, this smart gadget can also diagnose defects in the engine and battery. And in the event of a breakdown, help is just a phone call away.
The start-up has logged in revenue of Rs.1.8 crore of revenue so far after selling 3,000 products to both B2B and retail clients. “We realised that scale will be through B2B mostly,” says Shah. Carnot currently provides a smart micro fleet management solution to Uber, a connected tractor platform for Mahindra and powers the connected insurance policy of ICICI-Lombard Insurance and more such collaborations are in the pipeline.
The start-up also won a $100,000 award from chip maker, Qualcomm in 2016 and aims to sell 10,000 products on the consumer front. The enterprise is diversifying into technology that is not just compatible with cars, but also with bikes, trucks, tractors, buses or any motorised transport. Currently run as a pilot project, it has already received over 800 orders for the same. “We want to think of our solution as an IoT platform, a turnkey solution which the manufacturers can integrate with cars, bikes, buses or tractors and offer as value added service to their customers. That’s where we want to be and we are looking to get a few partners by the end of this year,” concludes Shah. Post India, the next destinations on the roadmap are Indonesia and Mexico.