Sci-fi movies depicting robots as heroes, villains and friends aside, we are pretty much far from having robots become a part of our daily lives. This might change, if all goes well for Invento Tech, a Bengaluru-based startup that has developed Mitra, a five-foot humanoid robot that
serves attendees at birthday parties and corporate events.
Observing that people he trained at his tinkering lab were not focused on furthering the field of building useful robots, Balaji Viswanathan, armed with a Master’s in robotics and AI, and co-founder Bharath Kumar took the task upon themselves. They built Mitra and rolled out its first pilot in collaboration with Canara Bank in October 2016.
The robot can converse with people and answer around 100 of a bank customer’s basic questions such as those regarding a loan, updating a passbook and so on. The same robot, if used in an automobile showroom, can do a little more, like giving the customer a guide of the entire facility. To enable this, a cloud interface allows the customer to feed possible questions and required answers into the bot. The bots are offered for an initial fee of Rs.5 lakh with an annual maintenance fee of Rs.1.25 lakh after the initial year. When rented for events, Mitra offers services such as playing requested songs, taking selfies for guests and livestreaming the event. These events are managed by SabRentKaro, a partner company which helps with logistics and event management. Birthday parties are charged Rs.18,000 per day, while corporate events cost Rs.30,000 per day for a bot.
According to Viswanathan, servicing for events is the biggest revenue generator for the company, and would allow it to scale faster. Invento Tech, with around seven bots now, is currently renting out its bots in Mumbai and Bengaluru and is in talks with potential partners to launch the service in Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai by October. Although the bot is being manufactured by the company at present, it has found a partner company to outsource the manufacturing hereon.
The start-up, which began with an initial investment of Rs.50 lakh, has garnered a revenue of Rs.20 lakh so far. The eight-member team at Invento Tech targets a revenue of Rs.1 crore by March 2018. They plan to sell 20 robots by the end of the financial year. “We have got three robot orders already, and five are in advanced stages of negotiation,” says Viswanathan. Another Rs.30 lakh revenue is projected from having 60 more event bases at a ticket size of Rs.50,000. The company also hopes to have 100 bots in place by the end of the financial year. It has tied up with a Chinese moulding company, which will supply in lots of 100 units. “We plan to order one lot by November. We have taken a loan of Rs.50 lakh from a bank to help us build up the inventory and other working capital needs. Apart from this, the company is in talks with investors both in India and Japan,” says the founder.