A small oil painting hangs in the office of Srinivasan Subramanian, the chief technology officer of enterprise mobility startup Unvired. It depicts a white ship sailing against the current.
"My wife did that (painting)," said Subramanian pointing to it. "It is an indirect way of support from the family." Unvired's other cofounder Dilip Sridhar said the inside joke in the office is that Subramanian's wife made the ship go against the current to show the difficulty of product companies succeeding in India. But that was six years ago.
These days the startup, tucked away in Bangalore's Jayanagar, is creating a buzz by offering Internet of Things (IoT) — a technology where devices communicate with each other intelligently — to large enterprises.
It has notched up a marquee list of global customers, including New Zealand's electricity distribution company WEL Networks, chemical company Kaneka, life science and tech company Sigma-Aldrich, among others.
"Services is something which is against our DNA," said Subramanian. "Product is more difficult route that is why it has taken us six years to reach there and weigh against the biggies." Unvired is now working with Google X, a facility run by Google on IoT, which will help enterprises to improve productivity and efficiency using wearable devices like Google Glass.
It has built an inventory and warehouse management app for Google Glass that integrates directly with the software.
"Workers can do hands-free transactions involving goods movement and other functions directly with enterprise software, without the need for a phone or tablet," said Sridhar, vice-president at Unvired. Wearables are in vogue, especially Google Glass and smartwatches.
Companies can save over $1 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) in costs related to field service using wearables, according to research firm Gartner.
"We selected the Unvired mobile platform over other competing platforms, because it offered us the greatest value, ease of building custom applications and seamless integration with SAP," said Andre Winterhalter, information technology director, Kaneka Americas Holding.
This month, Unvired was selected as a finalist in technology innovation leadership awards by Silicon Valleybased research firm Ventana Research.
Founded in 2007 by former employees at German software maker SAP, Unvired launched the enterprise IoT platform four years later in India. But it had to shift to other markets like United States and Middle East which were more open then to such technology. "The notion in India is that this kind of technology should be like the air we breathe — free," said Subramanian who declined to reveal the revenue of the firm.
"We can't afford that." The company, which is completely bootstrapped, is now in talks with venture capital firms to raise around . Rs 60 crore to scale up its operations.
"There is lot of startup action in IoT," said Bhavanipratap Rana, investment director at Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the world's largest chip maker. "Enterprise is more willing to pay." What is also unique about the Unvired founders is that they hired a non-founder Alok Pant, who was senior vice president, at NTT DATA (formerly Intelligroup), as chief executive of the firm.
"When we wanted to go global, the choice was to be at $5 million (Rs 30 crore) with full control or a $100 million (Rs 600 crore) with lesser control, we chose the latter," said Sridhar.
"We have disrupted the market sitting here in Jayanagar."