Home / Industry / Infotech /  Ducere Technologies | Shoes that show the way

Enterprise name: Ducere Technologies Pvt. Ltd

Entrepreneurs: Krispian Lawrence (31) and Anirudh Sharma (29)

Founded: September 2011

Location: Secunderabad, Telangana

Brand name: LeChal

LeChal is the brainchild of Krispian Lawrence, an electronics engineer-turned lawyer-turned entrepreneur, who left his job at Washington D.C.-based law firm Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner Llp. He started his company specializing in interactive footwear based on haptic technology that recreates the sense of touch through vibration, along with his friend Anirudh Sharma, an ex-team leader for MIT Media Lab India Initiatives.

LeChal is a Hindi phrase meaning ‘take me along’. “I was always passionate about haptics right from my engineering days, and although there wasn’t much buzz around wearable technology in 2011, we started working on a prototype shoe that had sensors and vibration motors embedded in the soles, that could connect to a phone app via Bluetooth and direct the person wearing the shoes, as to which direction to move, by vibrating in response to simple foot tapping or gestures, and which could also be programmed to perform specific tasks," says Lawrence.

While initially the shoes were intended for the visually impaired, the founders later realized that the shoes could be beneficial to others as well. The company received 50,000 pre-orders from age groups of 20-40 year olds around the world for the two products—shoes and in-soles, both priced at $149.99.

LeChal was started with an initial investment of $250,000 from the founders themselves, and in November 2013, it got $2 million in funding from angel investors. Lawrence and Sharma—who now have a team of 53 people, 12 vendors, and a 40-year-old shoe manufacturing company working with them—are looking to raise another $2 million from the same group of investors or other venture capitalists, retail and technology companies who could bring more value to LeChal.

The additional cash will be used to scale up operations, expanding to 70 countries worldwide, as well as for research and development, to introduce other haptic-based wearables. LeChal has filed for 24 patents and is looking to launch one more wearable device by September 2015. The company is also in discussions with an international sports brand to sell its products by next year—as the company—which specializes in products around the technology of touch, believes that “the touch and feel" of a product that is possible in an offline model, is as important as selling through an online model.

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