After studying engineering design from IIT Madras, Sai Prashanth did something unusual: he looked for a job in Kenya. He had planned to become an entrepreneur, and he wanted to travel and see the world.
He returned in 2016 and set up Conzumex, to develop consumer electronics products. The first product, Mu Connect, was a magnetic charger for Android and iPhone. Within 45 days, the company had sold 17,000 units of this device in 102 countries and made $230,000.
Prashanth and his colleagues learned about obtaining certification in different countries, and how to manage a supply chain, all in about eight months.
He then set his sights on his next product: a smartwatch that looks exactly like a regular analogue watch, and only costs as much. This watch, nearly ready for launch, has some other novel features as well. A smartwatch from Apple, for instance, has to be charged every day. The watch from Conzumex supposedly needs to be charged only once a year.
Conzumex will have a global launch of the product in two months. The watch is being manufactured in Shenzhen, but Prashanth is exploring options for manufacture in India. The dials and hands are already being made in the country. He is looking at a market that is currently $13 billion and expanding. His closest competitor is Fossil in the US.
Conzumex was incubated in the Research Park. Prototypes were made in the IIT workshop. As the company expands, IIT Madras is one of his fertile hiring grounds. “Prashant says he wants to be the biggest analogue smartwatch company in the world in two years,” says Mahesh Panchagnula, professor of Applied Mechanics at IIT Madras and a mentor to many startups. “And he doesn’t blink when he says that.”
Conzumex has just raised $450,000 from a set of investors, including Bahubali director C S Rajamouli. A launch is likely in July.
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