Hardware start-ups gaining traction, say experts

Due to lack of funds, proper ecosystem there hasn’t been many hardware start-ups launched in India, say experts


The hardware start-up Grey Orange Robotics provides automated on-demand robot services for logistics and warehouse management.
The hardware start-up Grey Orange Robotics provides automated on-demand robot services for logistics and warehouse management.

New Delhi: There hasn’t been many hardware start-ups launched in India because of lack of funding, proper ecosystem and mentorship, experts said.

The scenario is, however, gradually changing with companies such as Grey Orange Robotics being able to raise funds. The company provides automated on-demand robot services for logistics and warehouse management.

“The big bets in consumer internet have been cast. It’s encouraging to see today’s entrepreneurs following their domain and pursuing deeper technology sectors such as hardware, internet of things, artificial intelligence etc,” Sanjay Nath, managing partner at Blume Ventures, said at the India Summit organized by the The Economist magazine in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Blume is an investor in Grey Orange Robotics and participated in its $30 million round along with Tiger Global, last year.

“Our philosophy for fund II onwards will be to focus on, besides consumer internet, a good 30-40% on business-to-business (B2B) start-ups. Hardware, internet of things oriented start-ups will all be part of this focus area,” he added.

According to Paras Batra, co-founder of Leaf Wearables (Leaf Innovation Pvt. Ltd) that designs smart jewelry products for women’s safety, hardware start-ups can solve a plethora of issues ranging from sewage to water pollution in a city.

He said that hardware start-ups require much more effort as compared to other sectors.

“It requires expertise and is very time consuming. Entrepreneurs cannot go to the market the very next day. It requires a lot of iterations, which are costly and there has been no ecosystem around which leads to lack of mentorship,” he said, adding that the situation is slowly changing with companies such as Grey Orange setting a strong precedent.

Batra also said that to facilitate this further, there should be tinkering labs set up at schools so that students get a hand on making products early on.

According to Tracxn, a start-up tracker, at least 122 hardware-led tech start-ups were founded in 2014 and 85 last year. However, out of them, only 16 got funded in 2014 and 28 in 2015.

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