Getting a breakthrough is not easy for an innovator. It was not easy for Rishab Jain, Founder of Geek Labs, too. An Electronics engineer, a tech geek himself, Rishab had to learn the tricks of running a business by working at a musical instrument company. But, you can’t stop an innovative mind to flourish. It was right for Rishab as well, he soon saw a huge business potential in home automation systems and finally got a breakthrough and thus Geek Labs was born. Tell us what Geek Labs is all about in a nutshell.
Geek Labs was started as a consultancy to provide people an efficient and comfortable lifestyle with the help of technology. As time passed by, we realized that there is a huge demand for home automation systems in the country and we have to make it affordable for the rising middle class segment in India. We decided to venture full-time into home automation and also offer security, surveillance and building management systems to our customers.
Geek Labs was launched by a team of young innovators who were excited about making ground-breaking developments in the field of machine-to-machine communication. We formally launched the company in 2013 in Mumbai, after spending years in meticulous research and comprehensive market analysis.
Tell us about the founder of Geek Labs? What is his background and what was he busy with prior to launching Geek Labs?
I, Rishab Jain, an Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer, is the founder of Geek Labs.
As an engineer, I was always interested in electronics that can be experienced by humans, at the same time can be interactive and provide a new vision to humanity. Unfortunately, I never managed to get any electronics job. While all my other friends took the computers and IT related job, I took up a job at a musical instrument company that helped me gain knowledge about how to run a business and gave me enough confidence and freedom to start my research into the fields of home automation.
In which year Geek Labs was launched? What is the team size? What kind of products/services you provide? Where are your offices located?
Geek Labs was launched officially in 2013. However, I have been working on it since 2011. Currently there is no team; it’s a one man company. Right now, we provide customized solutions for home automation and smart home projects. We have two offices in Mumbai – one at Santacruz West and the other at Mumbai Central.
How is Geek Labs different from other tech startups in India? What is the USP? Why would people look at your startup?
Geek Labs was started with zero funds. We aim at ensuring customer satisfaction even after our work has been completed. We always believed in developing solutions that others can’t. Our USP is to design and develop solutions for those people who actually need it and admire it, and not for those, who have money and just want to use these solutions as a toy in their luxurious homes.
Over a period of time, I have noticed that people do prefer our startup because we take personal care in ensuring that the system works according to our client’s day-to-day lifestyle and meet their expectations. We tailor make solutions for them and ensure that we provide a rigid solution.
How difficult was it for you to hire quality, skilled and talented people, when you said you are hiring for a startup?
This has been the biggest challenge for us so far. Having started with zero funds, we always had a fund crunch. In such a scenario, getting people on-board was a herculean task. We often had to compromise on the skill levels of the employees, because we could never afford the people whom we really wanted. We generally look for qualities such as good communication skills, quick thinkers, decision makers and team-players while hiring.
How has been the journey so far? What did you learn?
The journey has been rough so far, at the same time it has been wonderful too. I have learned that in a technical domain like ours, not every time does the client know what he wants or needs. It is up to us to take a decision on his/her behalf. Here, we have to be very sure of what is the requirement and what we will be able to provide.
On the other hand, there is excessive competition. The competition is growing faster than ever. Every day I receive calls from people who want to venture into the same field.
Did you receive any seed funding or raise money to go really big?
No, we have not received any funding. Currently, we do not need any funding. We are planning a new business model after Q1 2016. We might be open to investors then.
What were the initial hiccups you faced? How easy or tough was it for you to handle?
Most of them were technical hiccups. Also, there is another perennial problem; clients don’t rely on startups easily. I can say it has been tough and we are lucky to still be above the water.
What do you want to tell wannabe young entrepreneurs?I would suggest them to walk on the right and moral path to success. And, invest plenty of time and energy into their field of interest. Patience is most important.
What do you feel about the current startup ecosystem in India?
It is certainly on the rise. I can see it going higher. I guess with the new startup action plan launched by the India government, startups will surely benefit.
How supportive was your family with your idea of launching a startup? What was your friend’s reaction?
Family and friends both were supportive and stood beside me all through.
What is your plan or strategy to sustain in the long run?
Oh! That is a riddle I am still trying to solve.
What are your marketing strategies to promote your company? What kind of branding activities you are doing?
Currently we’re laying low. Experimenting on newer technologies and setting up a stronger customer base.
Are you using any niche technology to solve technical problems, increase overall efficiency, customer engagement, boost sales etc.?
Yes, we are. It would be hard to explain, because it is technical and is specific to the field of M2M communication.
What are your immediate plans to expand and grow? Are you looking for partners, investors to promote your startup?
Immediate plans would be to tap the corporate sector. We are not looking for partners and investors right now.
Did you receive any awards or recognition? What has been your greatest achievement so far?
No, we didn’t receive any awards so far. Our greatest achievement would be to feature on “Fibaro Global’s” newsletter.
Do you participate in any events, seminars, conference? Name if any.
We participated in the “Go Green Carnival” at Khar Gymkhana, Mumbai – Feb 2015.
Where do you want to see Geek Labs 2 years from now?
We would like to see ourselves as innovators who wish to incorporate technology in day to day life seamlessly. So in the next two years we should have a rock solid product of our own.
What do you have to say about Startup Simba, being the first of its kind video blogging platform for startups?
Well, it’s a very niche idea. I believe it is a very nice and innovative way to showcase startups that could result in numerous possibilities such as finding partners, meeting investors, joint ventures, etc.
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