Inkers is uniquely positioned, something which our clients love. We are a video perception platform providing AI on local solutions.
Backed by Flipkart’s founders, Inkers started with the vision to finally make machines work for us through AI, instead of people working for machines. Headquartered in Bengaluru and founded by IIT alumni Rohan Shravan and Manish Giri, Inkers designs and develops deep large-scale AI and ML vision solutions for enterprises, retail and defence and security companies. “We are a video perception platform providing AI on local solutions,” Rohan Shravan tells Sudhir Chowdhary as he dwells on his venture’s journey so far and expansion plans. Excerpts:
Tell us something about your entrepreneurial journey.
Since childhood, I have been impressed with what machines can do for us, but with time I realised, that the machines are not working for us, rather we need to work for and on them. For me, this was a contradiction and early on I decided to do break this routine. My first startup was attempted at creating computers which can make people more productive. But there is only so much you can do with smarter application and computer design. I have been doing Machine Learning since my college days, and only around 2014, it was clear that we have hardware good enough to make AI run on local machines, and that’s when Inkers was born.
At Inkers, we are working on solving visual perception as a problem. If vision AI is solved, then it can revolutionise nearly every domain, right from autonomous flights to security. Our vision for AI is slightly different. We don’t believe that there would be one single AI programme which would do anything. That’s not going to happen, for at least one more decade. It is again going to be a collection of awesome AI application developers who would create solutions in their domains, and it is the collection of these apps which will deliver convergence.
How has the business been so far?
The business has been great! Even though we are in the B2B segment, we already have 12 paying large customers on the SaaS model, with the same to go live soon. Nearly all the sales have been inbound. Post series A, we plan to go aggressive. We have been wrong about what the Indian consumer may want to use AI for, and that customers would be actually proactively looking for solutions. Next five years is the golden period for Indian AI ecosystem, where AI would optimise processes and improve efficiency, without affecting jobs. Businesses do not want to invest in buying new machines for improving performance, and that was a big hurdle for AI as well. We solved that by making hardware, literally, redundant. We believe that Inkers has a tremendous potential to become a true unicorn (one which makes money).
Who are the key investors in your venture?
Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal invested $1 million early on and later we closed another round of $500,000. We are currently closing our series A round, and a number of global investors have shown interest. Since we came out of stealth mode (in October) we have closed $300,000. Organically, we are looking at $6-7 million in FY20, and series A would treble it. Our top clients are from outside India.
What are your business expansion plans?
Inkers is uniquely positioned, something which our clients love. We are a video perception platform providing AI on local solutions. That means data and processing, both, remain local. This has a huge cost advantage. Our clients, along with the help of our ISV partners, help deliver a solution within a couple of months. One reason our B2B conversion is fast is, that the RoI is extremely clear on what we deliver. AI is very critical for India and we realise that there is a huge dearth of talent here. We have trained more than 2,500 people in AI in the last two years, and we want India to lead this final industrial revolution.