Need for Commoditizing AR in India
Mr. Vivek M. Jain, Founder, FlippAR, talks about Augmented Reality in India: its landscape, potential, use cases, regulatory snapshot, and FlippAR’s journey and scaleup plan.
How has your journey as an entrepreneur been?
My first venture was “Strap business solutions”, a software Services Company to serve clients across the globe with a college friend Madhav Gupta in 2003 and worked until 2015. In the same year I found “FlippAR”.
For the first four years I was a technology professional, doing programming and coding and gradually moving towards project management followed by joining group of other organizations. As an entrepreneur, I have worked for distinct aspects of a business and faced multiple challenges which has made me more matured and stronger therefore, my experience as an entrepreneur has been fruitful.
Tell us about your startup journey so far of FlippAR and how do you take FlippAR going forward?
We started off as a pilot project, experimenting an app to visualize furniture launched by IDEA couple of years back so that was an inspiration for us to start tabling into augmented reality and since then we have served the whole product as a platform to work with multiple industries. Currently, we are focusing on tourism sector and are very closely associated with state government of Karnataka to provide lot of experiences to tourists using augmented reality.
How was your experience of business expansion geographically?
We see there are phenomenal opportunities within tourism sector across the world hence US & UAE allures tourists massively and that is why we have associated with the two countries. Also in my previous start-up we built a strong network of professionals across the world and now we are leveraging on those and creating partnerships to create our presence at the aimed places. To expand our reach we have also tied up with Mr. Chris Gayle to take our organization to the next level.
We recently noticed that Mr. Chris Gayle has bought a stake in FlippAR. How do you plan to leverage his brand association?
Primarily, it is more about engaging with Chris Gayle himself as he is extremely popular and well accepted with immense fan following therefore we would like to engage with his fans especially millennial fans who are expected to download our app and also help get in touch with brands of his association which is going to be a wonderful flip for both of us.
How are your clients using AR in their industry?
As we have got grant from Karnataka state government to create experiences we are serving multiple industries. We also have a manufacturing company, who retail spices and also use FlippAR to engage with their customers to explore all about the spices. Another example is of Furniture industry where retailers are enabled to create engagement with their customers both online and offline for product information reviews on the product etc through AR.
How do you see the landscape for AR in India?
AR needs to be commoditized especially in India due to its huge population. If we look at giants of mobile or smartphone industry like Apple or Google and they are very skeptical about Indian market and are focusing quite heavily in Indian market as its maximum in volumes, therefore, it will be a game changer. Also, If we look at Google, Apple and other companies’ entry into AR there focus is lot in India depicting if it works in India the rewards will be significant.
Who supported you in your initial and growth phase? What were the major funding sources?
I have had lot of support across the board especially from my family which is phenomenal nowadays many people ignore the support of their family but for me it has been very tremendous also in the journey I have a very good team working like a set of developers, staff etc. We also got accelerated by NUMA-a French accelerator who provided lot of footing in many directions at the commencing stages of our business, most importantly some boot-strap cash which aided in our advancement. The State Government was supportive by granting permission to us and the prime capital was invested by me. Lastly, we also held some revenue generating projects.
Does the Indian startup ecosystem have all the requisite support mechanisms – marketing, legal, regulatory to support startups, such as FlippAR?
Yes, definitely from both state government and central government. With state government we work very closely and have received tremendous support from them not only in terms of funding, grants but also for allowing public spaces for us to experiment our technology or would have been difficult without them. For instance, Karnataka has a start up cell – “Startup Karnataka” and we also have “Startup India” hence there are benefits like reimbursements of service tax which helps in finances, business, marketing initiatives which consists of 50-60% of total marketing expenses and they provide a substantial discount if you have taken filing so there are substantial supports from both the start ups. In case of central government we have been recognized by Start-up India initiatives. So, we are in discussion with concerned person who is nominated by Start-up India with some patent.
How do you plan to scale-up?
We are working on a couple of things but I may not be able to reveal at this stage and lot of it revolves around content – augmented reality. One of the bigger challenges is with content and that is something we are currently working on.