Charting a problem into an opportunity is one of the significant measures of the Entrepreneurial Quotient. No matter how many rejections or discouragements you face, the belief in your idea and the passion to make it successful is the trait of a true entrepreneur. Kranthi Vistakula is one such entrepreneur. He has invented heat exchanger technology, a one-of-its-kind, which responds to human body temperature as it demands. Read more about the entrepreneurial genius of Kranthi, Founder CEO Dhama Innovations, as he narrates his story.
Genesis of Starting Out
As a student of MIT Boston, I came across a rather mundane problem. I repeatedly had to remove and add layers of clothing as I stepped in and out of my university classes in response to the contrast between the centrally heated indoors and chilly outdoors.
Prompted by his own thermal discomfort, Kranthi thought why not create a lightweight wearable heating/cooling system which the user can wear just like a garment. I first made a jacket with heating/cooling functions but it was heavy (5 kg in weight) and had very basic technology. My idea and prototype were laughed at and were branded impossible by many but I remained persistent and convinced about the potential. Carrying my first crude prototype, oblivious to all the mockery, I came back to India to start my own company called Dhama Innovations Pvt. Ltd. The company was incubated at the National Design Business Incubator, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. During the course of development, I studied several other heating/cooling systems in nature and in other applications and studied alternative technologies. I made several other prototype iterations with the help of another product designer and a tailor in a small incubation room with a few materials and a single human dress form. Our efforts resulted in the creation of a sleek and lightweight jacket which weighed only 800 grams (84% lighter than the first prototype), run with the help of efficient lithium polymer batteries. My technology completely eliminated the use of any fans and moving parts which are an essential part of every other contemporary cooling system. This was achieved through the design of novel heat exchanger which is one-of -its-kind in the whole world, explains Kranthi.
Thus was created the ClimaCon technology which works in synchronization with human body’s natural temperature management systems and enhances them to heat or cool the body on demand. The technology can be seamlessly integrated into the clothing of the user and becomes like a second skin.
Challenges faced in the start-up phase
Like every other start-up, Kranthi too had his share of teething problems. One of the major challenges we faced was expanding the core design team. As an innovator and the founder of a new technology company, I was clear in my mind about the traits I desired in my employees. While talent-hunters look for experience, I was looking for attitude, passion and the ability of the future recruits to create their own way when there was none. Today, I am blessed to have found such a team and encouraging leadership and team-work remains the cornerstone of Dhama’s ethos, says Kranthi.
One of the pressing challenges that Kranthi and his team still face today, is vendor management and getting quality output in small volumes while keeping costs at bay. We have been lucky in many ways, as the uniqueness of the technology brought many awards and media coverage our way, reflects Kranthi. The company received Government of India funding under the Technopreneurship programme and attracted investment from private funds which other start-ups often struggle with.
Business Model & Revenue Model
ClimaCon technology enjoys versatile applicability across products and sectors. We have developed a technology platform, so robust, that it has diverse applications like: heating/cooling apparel & accessories, pain relieving systems (hot and cold therapy), dairy coolers for increasing the milk-yield of cows, baby incubators and eco-friendly and portable salad & pastry coolers for hospitality sector and many more yet to come, explains Kranthi.
Dhama aims to service niche user segments like Military, Industrial Personnel and Sport Enthusiasts who deal with extreme weather in course of their duty. Dhama’s products have also been extended to healthcare for orthopedic ailments and sports injuries through pain relieving systems providing hot and cold contrast therapy treatments. The business model is a mix of direct selling, strategic partnerships and retail selling depending on the sector serviced. Dhama aims to generate aggregate revenue of Rs. 100 crore by the end of FY 2011-2012, adds Kranthi.
Currently, we have no competitors. Our technology is completely unparalleled and unique. The competing products are bulky/heavy, uncomfortable in wear, require supporting units and do not provide sustained and consistent heating/cooling performance, highlights Kranthi. ClimaWare is completely stand-alone and portable, extremely ergonomic and lightweight (ClimaWare- Jacket’s weight is comparable to a pair of denim pants) and probably the first-ever electronics designed to be washed.
First Big Success
The founding year of Dhama Innovations i.e. year 2008 was a milestone year. We tasted success with several awards of international merit. It is difficult to isolate one single accomplishment. Being the first prize winner at India Innovation Pioneers Challenge, Champion of Champions Category, winning gold medal at Lockheed Martin Innovatorsâ€™ Competition and securing the prestigious TePP (Technopreneur Promotion Programme) Grant from Department of Science and Technology, Government of India can be called our first big successes, points out Kranthi.
Determined to take the spirit of innovation further, Kranthi says that their future plans are to constantly innovate and develop new technology and create new products for human comfort and well-being. “We have created an innovative technology that is Made in India. The next step is to lead the global front with our world-class products,” he adds.
About Kranthi Vistakula
Kranthi Vistakula has MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was awarded “Innovator of the year 2010” by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published Technology Review Magazine. He was also honored “Young Entrepreneur of the year 2010” by Business world magazine. As the CEO of Dhama Apparel Innovations Pvt. Ltd, Kranthi is the company’s spearhead for venture capital management, strategy formulation, business development and product development. Kranthi has also been the Co-Founder and Co-Managing Director of Intact Labs, Cambridge. In the capacity of this position, he was the Co-Principal Investigator leading a research team in a NASA project to create a mechanism to generate electricity using proteins for space applications.
|About Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi|