Monday, May 29, 2006

"RECTians are second to none!"

Meet Ur Buddy, Vol. 3: Prashant and Palani
“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking it.” - William B. Sprague

Being an entrepreneur is a dream, a passion and a challenge and numerous RECTians have left an indelible mark on the world by making it big. We are proud to present young Prashant Agrawal and Palaniappan C from RECT 2003 who left their safe, secure jobs in Wipro and Analog Devices respectively to pursue their dreams. Their company Orizin’ promises to capture the attention of market with its innovative products in the embedded systems domain. While Palani handle the technical aspect of Orizin, Prashant handles the business side.

Even in campus, they have differentiated themselves with their achievements. Palaniappan C. was the awarded ‘the most outstanding student of the batch’ award. Besides being a department topper, he had strong interest in web design and computers. To his credit, he has the design of the first template of TnP department’s LAN website. Prashant had a strong interest in entrepreneurship from the very beginning and was the part of the team that had re-started the EDC (Entrepreneurship Development Cell), organized the first Isha Yoga program and many other lectures of luminaries from industry.

Prashant, standing and Palani in their workshop (Left). Orizin logo (Right)

[After a long hunt, we were able to catch them in Bangalore and here is a glimpse of conversation we had that truly tells the essence of entrepreneurship]

Could you please tell readers about your business model in short?

Prashant: Orizin wants to design and market high-end technical product solutions that can bring lots of value to its customers. At present, our focus areas are RFID and Wireless Sensor Networks. We are looking forward to provide complete systems to our customers with the combination of software product as well as of hardware. Our present product offerings are:
1. Mid Range RFID Reader with USB Interface
2. Mid Range RFID Reader with USB and Ethernet Interface.
3. Gate Antenna with Integrated RFID Reader.
Presently we have made a unique infrastructure tracking system that uses RFID technology to track resources from a single location. We are developing this product for a hospital kind of environment. This product can also be used in an IT company.
[For more details about Orizin’s products, click here]

What is the value proposition that you would like to sell to the investors and potential clients?

Palani: One, we being young, we are learning fast and have the advantage of being easily approachable by everybody. Then, we see ourselves as people who have strong grip on technology. This will go a long way in making Orizin’s product offering very innovative. In long-term, we see ourselves working on very challenging technologies that are on a high growth path. We look at ourselves as a very client focused company and the present product offering is being diversified to find new markets and applications of the same technology.

Why RFID? Where did u get the inspiration from?

Prashant: This has an interesting story. While at Wipro, I attended a seminar on RFID technology. It was then that I realized the potential of RFID technology. I did not know then that I would actually start making products on this technology. However, the subject infused interest in me and I started gathering more information about RFID. I saw the kind of RFID devices people were using at Wipro.

What do you see as the prime roadblocks to people who aim to start up in future?

Palani: Many people did not start up because they felt that they needed a large number of contacts to establish themselves in the market. What we have found is that as you take a plunge, things become much clearer with a perseverance and hard work. It is important to have faith in our capabilities and chase our dream than getting subdued by anything. We have found that calculated risk taking and the ability to face adversity takes us a long way in making a successful venture. It may take effort to rotate a wheel, but once it starts rolling, it is unstoppable.
Many people have a perception that MBA is essential for running a business. We believe more than any degree, its passion that makes the difference. Often your inexperience in business can be circumvented if you have a very experienced and enthusiastic mentor. We are fortunate to have Mr. Venkat, former CEO of Deccanet Designs [A hardware company that was recently acquired by Flextronics, a $15 billion IT giant]. He has been very instrumental in guiding us on the path of creating value in our product offering.

What are the prime challenges that you faced in technology entrepreneurship? What do you think would certainly improve the environment for start-ups in India?

Prashant: Sometimes a new technology fails to pick up and takes its own time to get the critical mass. There is a risk of another technology swamping your proposition and leaving you trailing. Challenge is to keep ourselves updated, and keep looking for innovation. We need to encourage people to chase their dreams wherever they are. We need to create an eco-system start-ups can help one another and grow together. There should be more forums and seminars where people get a chance to come in touch with each other.

How did you come to know about NirmaLabs and what role did it play in your success? What is your feedback about it?

Prashant: I came to know about NirmaLabs when it had organized a Road show in Bangalore to focus on building my dream and bring up some ideas. After seven months of project incubation at NirmaLabs, Palani joined me as co-founder and we started Orizin on 15 Dec ‘2005.
NirmaLabs is an organization with a group of people who are very focused and passionate on creating entrepreneurs of young people. It follows Silicon Valley model of investing in people unlike most other incubators in India, which invest in business plans. NirmaLabs typically helps you in creating the first prototype of the product or service that you are aiming to produce. Based on this first prototype, you try to attract funding from VCs and financials institutions like SIDBI, IDBI etc. Incubators also support you in getting in touch with investors. In all, an incubator helps you in all the initial support and smoothen the transition from a job to a business.
Besides, there are forums like the TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) that are providing a platform to investors and entrepreneurs to interact with each other. We would suggest aspiring entrepreneurs, to be part of organizations such as these.

Do you believe in the perception that RECTians have been less successful at entrepreneurship as compared to IITians?

Palani: No, this perception is baseless. The fact is that we have also felt the same while in campus. We have seen a large number of RECTians starting up and being rather successful at it. There are so many successful startups that have grown to stable companies like JumpStartUP by Mr. Ganapathy Subramanian (1987), Srishti Software by Mr. Ajay Shankar Sharma (1996), Cosmic circuits by Mr. Ganapathy Subramanian (1989). Then there are people like Mr. Rajan NV (1979) who co-founded Linc Software and Mr. Anand Sudarshan (1982) who co-founded Microland group. However, it is true that much of the entrepreneur success of RECTians is not ascribed to RECT as a brand. We thus need to make successful RECTians popular in campus.

What do you think we can do to increase the alumni interaction?

Prashant: First, we need to have large number of interactive sessions with the present students where they get to discuss career options with experienced people from industry.
Besides, we need to create awareness of the success of our alumni in various industry circles. This can be achieved if RECAL can conduct such meetings at regular interaction at various hubs like Bangalore, Chennai and US. If we had come to know that so many people from REC have been so successful in industry, we might not have to struggle getting contacts in the initial phase. It is in this aspect that Meet Your Buddy is doing a good service.

Are you interested in entertaining present students for internships or recruitments?

Palani: Yes, if the objectives and targets are clear, we would be happy to have those RECTians in Orizin who are willing to do something challenging under all circumstances. We would also encourage people aspiring to become future entrepreneurs to be part of Orizin.

What is your message to the alumni of REC?

Prashant: Let us create a unique platform that can bring value for everyone by inculcating healthy interaction among us. Let us not forget our alma mater. Networking is very powerful. We already have a base; let us explore it to its best.

What is your message to the present students at NIT Trichy?

Prashant: Dream! One should not underplay and settle for anything less than the best. The instinct to compromise to accept anything lesser than the best is bad. Then, Explore REC/NIT Advantage. Our campus gives us a glorious opportunity to make good friends all around the country and get ahead with them. Orizin is an example of what RECTians are capable of achieving starting from college friendship.

After all that hard work, what do you take to sleep today?

Palani: [Prashant smiling] The satisfaction that we are learning something significant everyday is a great feeling despite so many challenges and glitches everyday. It is also the sense of creating something new. Startup is almost like your child, who grows and prospers in front of you, which cherishes you.

[Prashant and Palani are working out of their office in Mysore and frequently visit Bangalore to meet clients and friends. They can be contacted at +919342471640 (Prashant)]
IBM India Pvt Ltd.
Ittiam Systems Pvt Ltd.
[Please keep your feedback and suggestions flowing in. We would also like if you can share contact information of other luminary RECTians.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anurag, Arpit,
Great work. Keep it up.
Palani, Prashant,
Good luck with the startup. How about focussing on some volume integrated solutions like "tag & ship". This will help open the door for more sophisticated solutions. Contact me via Arpit - more than happy to help.

'81 EEE

10:49 PM  
Blogger mohanraj said...

WOW, this is wonderful. You guys are doing a good job. Keep the good work up:-)

Meta 1999

4:35 AM  
Blogger Shan said...

Anurag & Arpit
Great initiative bring RECTians to the fore. Impressive work
Palani & Prashant
RFID lot of potential My wishes for your success

Production 1984

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good work!! Though not a RECTian, it was a pleasure to read thru this blog. It was quite motivating to read the interview - its all about dreams and passion, very true.


6:12 AM  
Blogger Prakash said...

I am reliving my RECTian days through this blog. Great job guys !!
Good luck to Prashant and Palani too !

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck to palani and Prashant. Your hardwork will surely payoff.
You stand as inspiration to scores of rectians.

Anurag and Arpit, good initiative guys, keep it up.

2004 EEE

3:01 AM  
Blogger Anuj said...

This is a wonderful initiative!! Great going guys.

Prashanth and Palani Good luck to u too!!

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Gnana Bharathy said...

Great job! keep it up. regards gnana
Gnana Bharathy, RECTian 1992

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Niranjan Sahoo said...

GreatJob...Keep it up

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anurag and Arpit, Nice work. Keep it going.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Imran said...

Its great to note that RECTians (now NITTians) rock. That was inspiring. I am proud to be a NITTian.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Prashant said...

Thanks to everyone for so many kind words..! I just happened to visit the website after a long time.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Marudhu said...

Prashant & Palani,

Keep up the good work and Keep going. It is so happy to see somebody from my batch started a buisness.

Hope to meet you guys in some Occasion.


8:34 AM  
Blogger Nirmala said...

Hi RECTians,
I am Civil Engineer of 1986-1990 batch I am looking for my classmates and year mates. anybody?

1:43 AM  
Blogger Arpit Agarwal said...

Dear Nirmala,

Thanks for dropping by. Please email me at arpit105 [at] Yahoo dot com. I can help you connect to a few of your batchmates.

3:44 AM  

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