Tracking, monitoring – all on the go

N. Ramakrishnan | Updated on March 10, 2018

SivaSivakumar, NimbleWireless

“We created the world’s first CDMA module in 2007-08…from the Chennai office.” Siva Sivakumar Co-founder, CEO, and CTO, Nimble Wireless

Nimble Wireless is the name of Siva Sivakumar’s start-up company. And, this 42-year-old engineer with a Master’s from the US, has proved to be nimble at work as well. After a long stint at Qualcomm in the US, Sivakumar started Nimble focussing on handset design services, along with friend Naveen Sabapathy, in 2007.

Almost as soon as they started up, Nimble bagged a prestigious $1.2 million order – large for a company that was just being set up – from Kyocera. “We had two people and we projected mainly the founders’ ability to execute the project. We laid the track as the train approached,” says Sivakumar, of Nimble’s first order. “I went to the customer,” says Sivakumar, “and told them you know I am just starting this venture. So, for the first two months, under my direct guidance and supervision, we will outsource certain jobs. In two months, our staff will be ready and we will take over.”

Finding talent

Sivakumar and his partner quickly hired engineering graduates from colleges in smaller cities, trained them and put them directly on the job. All 20 of them. “We created the world’s first CDMA module in 2007-08 for Kyocera. Everything was done out of the Chennai office,” he says.

Even while hiring engineering graduates, Sivakumar realised they may not be able to attract the best talent. So, they went to colleges and asked faculty members for the names of good students who had not managed to get a job yet. This way they were able to get a team of qualified, committed staff.

Within a year, Nimble’s revenues were $1.5 million. “We couldn’t have asked for more,” says Sivakumar. But then, the financial crisis hit the West and Nimble found its world crumbling. It quickly re-worked its strategy, was forced to send some staff home and became a smaller organisation.

Nimble also started working on other products. First was a tracking device, an assisted GPS (Global Positioning System) under the brand Quick Finder. Nimble demonstrated the product and successfully launched it. “Then there was no looking back,” says Sivakumar. Sivakumar and his partner also realised that the same technology can be used for monitoring. It partnered with a German solar equipment manufacturer, which came to Nimble for remote monitoring of its equipment. Another use for this is in monitoring telecom towers.

Tower trackers

Nimble’s monitoring device is now used to track about 500-600 telecom towers across the country. Another product that Nimble has developed is an automatic meter reader that will be used in electricity meters. The wireless module will be installed in the electricity meters and in the hand-held meter readers. When an electricity utility employee goes within 200 m of the meters, the readings from the meters will be automatically downloaded on to the meter-reader and the data transmitted via GPRS to the server at a remote location.

Sivakumar expects the three businesses – tracking products (for vehicles, assets and people), monitoring and metering – to grow in the coming years. At present, nearly 80 per cent of Nimble’s revenues (in FY 12 it reported revenues of about Rs 3 crore), come from abroad. However, he expects the automatic meter reader to take off in a big way this year. It is a high-volume low-margin business. Nimble, according to Sivakumar, is looking to raise funds to grow the business. He expects this to happen in the next six months.

Published on June 30, 2013

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