My name is Ajit, and I am a founder of Invention Labs. I started Invention Labs in June 2007 with three of my friends from college. We felt that the culture of institutionalized Invention, which has contributed so much to the power of countries like the
The concept for Invention Labs has been in my head for many, many years now. As a child, my thinking was shaped by a keen interest in science and mathematics, and a love for science fiction. My father was a scientist, and both my parents encouraged me to experiment at home. My childhood toys included various chemistry sets, a microscope and an electronics kit.
I think it was from science fiction books, movies and TV serials that I developed the dream of becoming an inventor. I had an excellent education in school, where my teachers encouraged and appreciated my interest in science. I briefly considered a career in mathematics, but I decided in favor of Electrical Engineering when into IIT Madras in 1998. In IIT Madras, I found a very warm and conducive atmosphere to fully explore my interest in creating things. I also had a very close circle of friends who were all keen about starting up their own companies. Those were the days when people like Sabeer Bhatia became famous for making a lot of money through entrepreneurship. Many of those friends today have their own companies, or are with leading venture capitalists, or are on the verge of starting up themselves.
I got a job in the
When I went to the
I kept my eyes open in the
One day, one of my professors in IIT Madras came to us with a request to help an organization called Vidyasagar to develop some innovative teaching aids. Vidyasagar is a school for spastic children. Many spastic children are quadriplegic, that is, they have no control over their limbs below the neck. Many of them are also unable to talk, and more than half of them have visual impairments. These children find communicating with their teachers and caregivers very challenging. Vidyasagar wanted to know if we could find a way of augmenting their communication skills through technology.
This was a project that excited us immediately, because it had a social impact, involved the latest technology, and contributed tremendously to the economic productivity of spastic people. However, this was not a product that could appeal immediately to a venture capitalist or a private equity shop, because we knew the returns would take a few years to materialize. We contacted TePP for funding, and are pleased to know that they are considering our application favorably. We hope to complete the product in early 2009, and after field trials at Vidyasagar, it will begin sales in mid 2009. The product has been code-named 'KAVI'.
I am determined that KAVI will not be the only product of Invention Labs.
All of us moved back to Chennai, got in touch with our alma mater, IIT Madras, and took the plunge. We had a few projects to start off with, that some of our contacts had generously offered us. So we were profitable from day 1! The cushion of money that these projects brought us gave us the time to pursue our own product ideas. We kept on the lookout for products that would be highly relevant in