Tell us about your venture – what problem are you solving, and why do you think it is an important problem to be solved?
Identisafe is a biometric company and our product, Identisafe-09 helps to start and secure your car with your fingerprint. We are attempting to solve global problem of car theft that occurs in every country.
The company was established in Pune in Dec 2003 with an investment of 800$ and was a part of Plug & Play Tech Centre in Silicon Valley, California in 2007. The company is bootstrapped and profitable, till date.
How did you think of this solution? And how are you going to get this into the market?
It all started in Singapore, where I had a television set in a car, which would go off because of a loose connection. I would then have to tap the set to get it started. It suddenly struck me during one such occasion that I could use biometrics to eliminate car keys completely!
God has given us a unique identity in the form of fingerprints. So why do we need car keys, I asked myself and so the product development started.
The product has been selling on our website via the E-commerce model. Our first order came from USA in 2004 and since then we have
been exporting it in Europe, Middle East and Asia. (We also get lot of inquiries for product dealership from car dealers and also to establish franchise network that we are seriously considering).
Our current model is Business-to-Customers and we may explore the Business-to-Business model soon.
What is your plan for taking this solution global? What suggestions would you give to startups that are thinking about going global?
We plan to license the technology to car manufacturers in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, India, Brazil and China and establish a business relationship as OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers. I also feel that we are now established enough to connect with car accessory dealers worldwide and have at least one major distributor of our product in every country.
I am not as successful as Sabeer Bhatia (founder Hotmail), Scott McNealy (founder of Sun Microsystems – Java) or Omid Kordestani from Google. However, I met them personally in Silicon Valley and am only passing down the advice them gave me. Stay focused and keep shipping – the world is not enough – even the planet mars and moon may be the future market.
What assistance do you seek from UKTI in exploring UK as a business destination?
I made a huge mistake in Silicon Valley – I did not raise capital for the company, which I felt was a critical factor in helping it grow globally.
I feel UK may serve as a good opportunity to connect with Venture Capitalists and get the company funded. Moreover, UK may serve as a central global destination to interact with automobile manufacturing companies and establish dealership networks, thereby helping us to export the product globally. (Our major customers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman find it easy to do business in UK).
The patent box may serve as an additional tax benefit since I have a UK patent pending for the latest technology, which I filed while studying at University of Cambridge.
Tell us in brief about yourself and your team.
Swapnil Kale – Founder –I am a Stanford Management Programme and Cambridge University graduate. I am a Hardware and Networking Engineer with massive experience in Embedded Electronics design.
Manfred Bosnawald – He has worked earlier with Siemens,
Austria in the Biometrics division for last 6 yrs.
Sushma and Gurmeher Bhatia (worked for 17 years in Intel, California). They look after technology marketing and licensing in Silicon Valley,
Web Development Manager – Shailesh Amonkar – He has 10 years experience in deploying web-based products. Specialized skills in Java and Embedded technology. Cloud-computing specialist.
Human resource– Renuka Tandon- She has been an independent HR person for TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and Amdocs. She has 15 yrs of experience & recruits embedded engineers and the marketing team.