Over the past few years, mobile phones have become a vital part of our daily lives that we use to carry out various activities such as online bus/train ticket booking and instant fund transfer etc. However, it still remains a fact that none of the existing mobile phone brands offers long-lasting battery life that the devices run out of charge and become virtually dead during long trips. And it is just irritating!
Here is where Bangalore-based Lumos Design Technology Pvt Ltd scores. This two-year-old startup has developed a technology that can turn your backpack or briefcase to a mobile charger. No wonder the company has managed to rope in Google's India head Rajan Anandan as a strategic investor.
"The solar backpack can house your laptop and other gadgets, and uses an innovative solar fabric to charge your devices. The backpack has an in-built battery that can store the solar energy and can charge your smartphone and other USB-based devices like MP3 players, Bluetooth headsets, etc. The backpack comes with a wide range of mobile phone connectors for different models," explains co-founder Gandharv S Bakshi. "The battery stores enough charge to power your phone 1.5x. Additionally, the water-resistant fabric guards the electronics against rain and saltwater." The product is priced at Rs 4,999.
Lumos was founded by Bakshi and Lavina Mahbubani. Bakshi, 30, is a MBA from IIM Bangalore and had earlier worked in the sales and product marketing division at Tejas Network, a telecom product firm. He is also a graduate of IIT Madras and had also earlier founded Alitum Management Solutions. Lavina Mahbubani, 27, is an alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology. She had earlier worked with the Landmark and Arvind group.
The company received initial investment of Rs 4.5 lakh from Sivakumar Ramamoorthy, who was Bakshi's boss at Tejas. Google's Rajan Anandan chipped in later with Rs 25 lakh investment. The capital was primarily used for research and product development.
Currently, the company designs backpacks and integrates the solar system into it. "Although we started off with e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers, we might consider partnering with a backpack manufacturer in the future," Bakshi added.
According to the co-founder, the tier-1 cities present a very strong opportunity for Lumos. He is confident that it would be possible for the firm to achieve revenues of up to Rs 10 crore from the sales in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad alone. "However, we do have global ambitions and are currently in discussions with distributors and partners in four countries—Philippines, Malaysia, Australia and Mexico."
Bakshi claims that the company has also received interests from the US and Europe, and will approach these markets after seeking the necessary certifications in the second half of 2014.
Lumos primarily earns revenues through sales of solar backpacks. In future, it plans to generate revenues through hardware & software upgrades and also through services which mostly involve technical maintenance.
The startup is mainly looking to leverage the wearable technology boom. It has just three employees on board and plans to expand the team â€“ both in R&D and sales and marketing â€“ soon.
Bakshi explains that globally, there are a few backpack players such as Voltaic Systems and Eclipse Solargear that make and sell solar backpacks. Lumos' competitive advantage is that it will have shorter product development times compared with these players. As a result, it would better be able to pilot backpacks and integrate customer feedback, he noted.
"We are now looking to raise another round of funding shortly to further expand our team and also to support our international expansion. A small portion of the funding will be used to apply for patents for key technologies both in India and other geographies," Bakshi said.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)