31 Dec 2015, 10:01 — 7 min read
Swapnil Kale, a Pune-based entrepreneur believes that innovation is the key to success. Swapnil has come up with a biometric solution called ‘Identisafe’ to ensure car security and minimise theft risk. Identisafe is a device that uses biometric security access, thereby ensuring that the car owner can start the vehicle with his fingerprint. Swapnil shares that car theft is a serious issue world-wide and globally there is a car theft every 5 minutes. He stumbled upon this idea by chance but is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that automobile giants adopt his cutting-edge technology.
GlobalLinker (GL) spoke to Swapnil Kale (SK) about his innovative business idea and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Excerpts from the interview.
GL: What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
SK: Way back when I was in the 7th standard, I had gone to a raddi (scrap-dealer) shop where I picked up a book, ‘Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire’. This book was absolutely fascinating for me as it recounted Bill Gates’ journey of establishing Microsoft. I used to watch Bill Gates on television; I thought it was amazing what this person was doing and it inspired me to be an innovator.
The next big moment of inspiration for me was in 2007, when I landed in Silicon Valley, to explore a new market for my product. At that time, I was unaware that this is the hub for innovation. I set up office in Plug And Play Tech Centre, Sunnyvale California. We had opportunities to meet several eminent speakers who would come to boost the confidence of upcoming entrepreneurs. That’s when I met Scott McNealy, co founder of Sun Microsystems and had a truly inspirational encounter with him. I was also a member of TiE Silicon Valley. Seshan Rammohan at that time was the Chairman of TiE. He advised me that I needed a mentor to guide me and introduced me to Sabeer Bhatia, Founder of Hotmail. Sabeer Bhatia showed a lot of interest in my venture which really motivated me. When you meet these people in person you get inspired to believe that nothing is impossible!
GL: How did you come up with the idea of biometric car security?
SK: It was a simple episode that sparked the idea for ‘Identisafe’. I had a car television and this television had a loose connection that kept going off when I would drive over potholes. I would then have to tap the set to get it started. It suddenly struck me during one such occasion -- what if one could start a car with the fingerprint. We could use biometrics to eliminate car keys completely. And that is how the concept started.
We invested Rs 30,000 to begin with. We burnt the ignition coil of my new Ford car a couple of times during Research and Development. And then it caught the media’s attention and we decided that we need to take this up and develop a product.
GL: Tell us about Identisafe.
SK: Identisafe is a device that helps to reduce car theft by using biometric security access and ignition start. Identisafe can be installed on a car dashboard. Every person who drives the car saves her/his fingerprint on the device, which can save up to 10 fingerprints. The fingerprint of authorised driver is verified before starting the car with key or without key. Only authorised and registered users can start the car thus minimizing the risk of car theft. Valet mode function allows to over ride fingerprint -start mode, thus permitting car to be parked by hotel staff and repaired by car mechanic or car dealer. Car accessory dealers can easily install Identisafe in 15 minutes without affecting car warranty and guarantee.
GL: What are some of the challenges you have faced?
SK: There are several challenges one faces, but these also provide an opportunity to learn and grow with every new challenge. One such challenge was that I have an electronics background – nothing to do with Biometrics. I had to educate myself in this field. Another challenge was to find suitable office space. Lack of capital was also a challenge. We had no idea as to how to raise capital for our business. Also, in my sector, if the technology changes and we are not able to adapt to that, then we will perish. People will buy from us only because we offer the latest technology. Most car companies have their own engineering and development wing. To be ahead in the game, we have to commit to ongoing research. The technology has to be practical and applicable and a step ahead of what other people are doing.
GL: What are some of the qualities you possess that make you a successful entrepreneur?
SK: Every time you have a failure, you have to get over it. For instance, recently there was a business competition arranged by the UK government -- IndiaEmerging20. I was pretty sure that I will get selected for this. When I didn’t qualify, I was disappointed, but my attitude was that this is an indication that I must improve my product. I believe that the best way to counter failure is to enhance your solution. Persistence is key. Somebody might take your technology or your client, you have to get over it and move ahead. It’s about focusing on development and growth, and not reacting to negative situations. You must also be aware of what your competitors are doing and how you can be better than them.
GL: What is your Big Business Dream?
SK: Biometrics in itself has a bigger future and the automobile industry is also growing, so if we can couple these two areas, it would be amazing. While the possibilities are endless, for now, I want to focus on the automobile industry – and try and get some big players onboard.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
SK: Once you are an entrepreneur, you cannot give up. You have to stay focused and you have to achieve your goals. You have to make yourself capable enough to achieve those goals.
Swapnil Kale is one of the many business owners to access the big business advantage on GlobalLinker.
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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