Enterprise MindHelix is the first startup from Kerala to join the Alchemist Accelerator in the Silicon Valley. Kallidil Kalidasan and Christin Emmanuel George, founders of the Kochi-based company, talk to K. PRADEEP on their commitment to making socially relevant products
Both Christin Emmanuel George and Kallidil Kalidasan are living out their dreams. Sometime in their life their dreams collided, they launched MindHelix Technosol, and they continued to dream.
This Kochi-based Cloud Startup found a place in the third batch of the Alchemist Accelerator in the Silicon Valley. And now they are “living the Silicon Valley startup dream”.
“This is something very few startups from India have gone to. The Valley is a completely new experience for us. The program has eminent entrepreneurs, Stanford lecturers and investors helping us through,” says Kalidasan, talking from the Valley, not hiding his excitement.
MindHelix Technosol (MHT) was launched barely two years ago. For Christin and Kalidasan, this was more than a company, it was the realisation of an ‘insane’ dream. They started off as three, two mechanical engineering students (Kalidasan and Thomas) and a computer engineer (Christin) with different dreams – one even nursed an ambition of going to space, the moon and beyond.
Christin and Thomas, being family, had launched a few projects together. Thomas introduced Kalidasan and the seeds of MHT were sown. Thomas took the decision to do higher studies in the US. In the beginning, it was basically hobby projects and software projects for clients. “We did so many things in the beginning from a small rented house near Poonithura, off Kochi. We sold SIM cards, created robotic kits for student projects. MHT was basically dormant for sometime, we were looking at various possibilities. But right from that stage we had decided to focus on being humane and also have fun at work,” says Christin, during a chat on the eve of boarding their flight to Silicon Valley.
The growth of the smart phone segment and the onus being on speed, portability and mobile application development market, Christin and Kalidasan decided on the choice. They brought in Nandakumar K.S. (also a Mech. Engineer) who was Kalidasan's bench-mate at college. The turning point was when their application for incubation at the ‘Innovation Lab,’ an arm of Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram, was approved. “This happened because of our products in the pipeline and also due to the largesse of K.C. C. Nair, Managing Director, Technology Business Incubator (TBI), Technopark. He gave us funds that a fledgling startup company could not think of and then Sanjay Vijayakumar, CEO of MobMe and brainchild behind Startup Village, also showed us the way,” says Christin.
MHT gets rolling
They went through a rigorous journey of learning, unlearning, ideating, and sometimes shouting them down. Two of their products that set MHT rolling were the award-winning Tuk Tuk Meter and Sentinel (see box).
Getting in touch with Microsoft India and the Delhi Police was another huge milestone for the company. With a firm presence in the cloud space, MHT recently rolled out a project for Delhi Police with GTM partnership with Microsoft India Pvt. Ltd. “We are one of the privileged few if not the only startup to be working with the Microsoft India Public Sector team. Know Your Police Station (KYPS) is a public portal which is part of the community policing initiation that helps citizens to report petty crimes, not the very serious ones, in the area to the nearest police station with info on name, phone number of station head officer etc. MindHelix is trying to rollout the solution to other states like Sikkim and Rajasthan and talks are on to introduce it in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. “In fact, this system can be tweaked for banks and enterprises in the service sector and the product is called SmartPrise,” feels Kalidasan.
MHT used their early products like TukTuk Meter and Sentinel not as a revenue stream but rather as brand mascots. They pitched their new cloud product for the Alchemist Accelerator Program. “In fact, our new product SmartPrise is what got picked, which is based in Menlo Park, San Francisco. It is a six month program that accelerates 12 enterprise startups. The accelerator provides funding and more importantly the chance to display their products to companies,” says Kalidasan.
In the third batch of the accelerator, they have as director, Ravi Belani. “He runs the show at the Alchemist. He is a professor on entrepreneurship and an awesome guide and is helping us to connect with Fortune 500 companies in the U.S .which can convert to customers or partners or mentors; access to funding agencies and investors who generally put more than one million USD into startups here. This is something very few startups or people from India have gone through. We hope to get through with some success,” Kalidasan concludes.