His office is in a quiet middle-class Chennai neighbourhood that was ravaged by the rains here in December. There was water till this, he points to the door frame and says it took them a month to clean up the place. But all that is behind him now as Sabarinath Nair is working on launching his second product — a simulator for painters in industrial applications.

The first product from Sabarinath’s venture – Skillveri Training Solutions Pvt Ltd – is a welding simulator, which companies buy to train their welders on before they actually start working. Skillveri’s clients include Titan Company, Wheels India, Murugappa group, Daimler, Ashok Leyland and Sona Koyo Steering Systems. Industrial Training Institutes too buy these simulators, which cost between ₹8 lakh and ₹14 lakh, to train their students.

An IIT connection

A computer engineering graduate from Kerala University, Sabarinath, 33, worked in companies that had an IIT-Madras connection. His last job was at Vortex Engineering, whose founder Kannan Lakshminarayan is an alumnus of IIT-Madras. While at Vortex, Sabarinath got interested in skill development and that is how the idea of a simulator was born.

Skillveri Training Solutions was incorporated in October 2012 and Sabarinath started working on prototypes, which went through iterations after feedback from users and was commercially launched in January 2014. Even during the Beta trials, Skillveri started earning revenues, which more or less took care of its costs. Skillveri is incubated at the Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) of IIT-Madras. It raised an undisclosed amount of funding from impact investor Ankur Capital in 2015 that was used to grow the business and strengthen the team.

According to Sabarinath, the company is looking at raising money this year as it has brought the welding simulator to a certain stage and is getting ready to launch a simulator for painting. In 2015-16, says Sabarinath, Skillveri earned more than ₹1 crore in revenue and since its commercial launch in January 2014, has earned about ₹2.5 crore.

The welding simulator consists of a hand-held welding torch with an embedded sensor and a screen that displays how the welding is progressing. The sensor sends inputs on things such as the holding angle of the torch, distance from the screen, deviation in welding and accuracy. “We have a unique offering where the simulator and the actual shop-floor blend. Since we own the IP, we are able to tune the product to the exact needs of customers,” says Sabarinath.

He says his competition is from imported products, which apart from being costlier cannot tailor the products to suit customers’ requirements.

“Our selling plank has not been the cheaper price point but about how effective the machines are on the shop-floor,” he adds.

Painting simulator

According to him, the painting simulator is ready and undergoing tests and Skillveri hopes to launch it in the next few months. Simultaneously, the company plans to target other user segments for the welding simulator. Right now, it sells to training institutions and manufacturing industries, mainly automotive, whereas there are a whole lot of others that have the same requirement. Skillveri has the capacity to make 25 simulators a month and is now selling about five a month.

Sabarinath says he is looking to raise “a few crores” to speed up the painting simulator launch, market the welding simulators to other industries, and strengthen the team.