Oizom has been doing a lot of R&D in pollution prediction and monitoring. But that’s still secondary for your start-up, because for any machine learning model to work, one must have vast amounts of data. So, how are you trying to overcome this challenge of being able to procure the right amount of data?
We realised that the only way to get around this challenge is to find scalability for data acquisition. That is how we came up with four sensor-based IoT hardware solutions – polludrone, odosense, dustroid & weathercom – for various applications. So, this was a cost-competitive, scalable way that we came up with for accurate air quality monitoring, and based on that data, we do predictions & forecasting of hyperlocal environmental data.
Your start-up co-exhibited the Smart Environmental Solution capability with Cisco in World SmartCity Expo in Barcelona last year. With everything turning virtual in the current COVID-19 situation & social distancing, has your start-up quickly warmed up to the virtual world? Do you think virtual exhibitions have more to offer to start-ups than physical exhibitions?
With COVID-19, we have altered a lot of ways of how we reach out to people and how we keep our target audience engaged. So, we’ve been conducting webinars every 30-45 days. Hence, we’ve been able to embrace this digital movement quite well. Of course, one challenge that we face is the peer-to-peer networking that happens during offline expos and events, which digital platforms cannot offer.
Also, certainly, virtual exhibitions have a lot more to offer to start-ups than physical exhibitions. From a start-up’s perspective, it saves a lot of cost on travel & accommodation, and one still gets to connect with all relevant people & companies.
Have environmental monitoring and data backed solutions become more important in the current coronavirus pandemic? Do you have any new environmental technology solutions in the pipeline?
Yes, definitely; especially real-time environmental data collection has become very important. We have our environmental AI platform coming up. The platform is a high-resolution pollution heat map that gives hyperlocal pollution data of a city.
IIM-Ahmedabad’s CIIE invested in Oizom last year. What would you suggest start-ups need to do in order to get investors to chase them instead of the other way round?
The best case scenario is that a start-up is so profitable and self-sustainable that it does not need an investor. That’s easier said than done, but my advice to all entrepreneurs is to try to solve a real problem & generate revenues. Once the company’s numbers and impact are quantified, it wouldn’t be that difficult to raise funds.
What do you have planned for your start-up one year down the line, in terms of all the major cities that it is present in across the world?
At the moment, we are focused on ambient air quality and environmental monitoring. For the next one year, we are also focused on trying to expand our reach through a partner-first approach, through which we can tap into newer geographies.