Three years into its eventful journey as a fledgling start-up based in Thiruvananthapuram, Genrobotic Innovations (Genrobotics), found itself making a virtue out of a dire necessity in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
Winner of the 2019 Young Changemaker Award, the start-up’s mission was to tailor-make robotic technologies for promoting safety and empowerment and thus raising the quality of life. Its solutions would address pressing social issues by seamlessly combining robotics with artificial intelligence.
Cut to the year 2020 when Covid struck. Bandicoot, its two-year-old flagship product, a robotic manhole cleaning and inspection equipment, experienced a surge in demand due to its ability to provide better, safe, and clean sanitation without human interaction, says Rashid K, Co-Founder and Director. After all, hygiene and cleanliness were key priorities in sewage cleaning since the virus could spread through the sanitation system. “Even today, Genrobotics remains resolute in its commitment to provide robotic solutions to help society at large,” he told businessline.
The big opportunity
Covid threw up a big opportunity without Genrobotics realising it. Bandicoot helped eliminate manual scavenging and reduced the risk of virus transmission through clogged sewerage pipes. It collaborated with various municipalities to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in the cities. The ‘Mission Zero Manual Scavenging’ received wide recognition and appreciation from the government and the public. “Our value proposition was the uplift of manual scavengers to robot operators. The technology not only saved lives but also provided dignified work to them,” explains Rashid. Genrobotics aims to deploy Bandicoot across the country to eradicate the scourge of manual scavenging.
Genrobotics has successfully deployed Bandicoot in 19 States including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, as also cities such as Kolkata, Jaipur, Leh, and Thiruvananthapuram, apart from three Union Territories.
“We have expanded operations overseas and ensured a presence in ASEAN and, lately, the European markets. As part of its expansion, Genrobotics presented Bandicoot at the Indian Sustainability Lounge during the World Economic Forum 2023 in Davos, Switzerland. It was showcased at Viva Tech to Industry 4.0 with a focus on robotics. Genrobotics has already initiated exports to Malaysia.”
New product lines
Genrobotics has expanded product categories to encompass a wider range of applications. New product lines, Bandicoot Mini and Mobility Plus, are ready to launch. The existing range also includes Wilboar (a robot for industrial confined space cleaning) and G-Beetle (a skyscraper facade cleaner). Upcoming ones include ‘Genbot’ and ‘Iravat.’ G-Gaiter, the flagship product of Genrobotics Medical and Mobility, helps paraplegic patients recover faster than traditional methods.
Rashid acknowledges the need for fresh capital to scale up. “Our current focus lies in expanding business in India and beyond and augmenting research and development on new products. Thus, adequate funding is necessary to accelerate growth, enhance market presence, and capitalise on emerging opportunities.”
The start-up was set up with meagre investment and exposure, but within a few months, it managed to successfully develop and showcase different products. “Bandicoot has been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of manual scavengers. The new market and social value thus created has attracted investments from Sridhar Vembu of Zoho Corp; Anand Mahindra; Rajan Anandan, formerly of Google India; Unicorn India Ventures; and the SEA Fund. These recognitions and support helped us venture into more areas where robotic technology could be used to bring about a change in the lives of people,” Rashid says.
The Changemaker Awards will take place in New Delhi on November 3. The presenting partner of the event is Sastra University. Associate Partners: Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), Casagrand, Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation, Punjab & Sind Bank, United India Insurance; Banking Partner: J&K Bank; Online Grocery Partner: Big Basket; Tourism Partner: Bihar Tourism; Television Partner: NewsX; Knowledge Partner: Ashoka & Deloitte; Validation Partner: Niti Consulting.
The link to view the event live: https://bit.ly/BLCM23