By Anusha Ashwin
India is a country that is largely dependent on outsourced technology, especially in terms of relying on manufacturing of mobile phones and other telecom-related equipment and components.
Breaking this stereotype is a homegrown company called Smartron — India’s first Internet of Things (IoT) brand that is designed and engineered in India – for India and the world. The brain behind this company is Mahesh Lingareddy. He is the Founder & Chairman of Smartron.
Smartron recently launched its first range of products that is designed on its proprietary tron platform, t.book, the Ultrabook convertible, t.phone, the lightest 5.5” smartphone, and tron.x, its unique IoT platform.
Since the launch, Smartron has indeed caught global attention — one for being the first OEM IoT device maker and second for being backed by Sachin Tendulkar, the legendary cricketer, as their shareholder and brand ambassador.
A visionary’s dream comes through
Smartron was founded by Mahesh Lingareddy along with Narsi Reddy Posham, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Smartron India, and Co-Founder and President, Rohit Rathi in August 2014 with a vision to build India’s first true global technology OEM brand that is designed and engineered in India.
Lingareddy has credibly led the company’s growth from a three-person start-up into an international business organization currently valued close to US$1 billion, raising more than US$150 million from a diverse group of global investors and building a team of more than 275 employees with development operations in the US, India and Russia.
Speaking about the genesis of Smartron, Lingareddy begins by saying, “If you take the current technology scenario globally, no Indian technology brand is featured in the top 100 brands whereas other emerging countries like China have made their presence in the global tech space with brands such as Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi… They file far more patents than India. While there are significant number of Indian technocrats who have innovated, and made a mark in global entities, there has not been an Indian company that has created a brand in the product technology space that is truly global. This is the very genesis of Smartron being founded.”
Lingareddy emphatically indicates that the core of Smartron is a reflection of the founding team’s belief in the ‘new’ India. A belief that, as a nation, we have what it takes to be at the forefront of the next technology wave with product level innovation.
“Hardware innovation spurred by Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next big wave in technology that offers huge disruptive opportunity to startups. IoT can usher in the next big change — it’s not just letting your gadgets talk to each other — it is also about increasing productivity and enabling services that can bring convenience. Smartron is founded with a vision to be India’s first global technology OEM brand riding the IoT wave. IoT is the basis for every product that Smartron develops. The company is working on next generation of smart IoT devices with integrated services and care by investing in the areas of smart, sensor, robotics, artificial intelligence and big data technologies.
Backed by an ace – Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar, India’s former ace batsman and captain, is not only financially backing Smartron but is also the brand ambassador of the company. Tendulkar has a natural fascination for technology and he was impressed with Smartron’s founding vision. Evidentially, his interest in Smartron was in line with his strong inclination to support brands that are designed and engineered in India.
According to Lingareddy, “Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest Indian stories of our times, a true global icon and a brand that disrupted the game of cricket, inspiring generations. Smartron team aims to achieve the same in the technology space by building a global product brand from India, disrupting the IoT market with innovative products and inspiring generations of engineers and entrepreneurs. Sachin is actively updated and has lent his support. He believes that an Indian brand can excel in the technology space. He is as excited as us and we hope that together we can make a difference by building Smartron as truly Indian brand to reckon with in the global space.
Gets on steep growth curve
Smartron has raised close to Rs 100 crore so far. In less than two years, the company has built a strong team, raised significant capital, filed over 20 patents, introduced tbook and tphone products with tronx platform benefits such as unlimited cloud storage, shipped tablets to Saudi Arabia and is on track to clocking significant revenues in its first year of sales.
Lingareddy’s previous stint was with founding Soft Machines, a semiconductor company that developed CPUs and SoCs. Soft Machines became a successful microprocessor start-up by raising more than $100 million from diverse group of global investors and it had built a team of more than 250 employees across US, India and Russia. Lingareddy sold Soft Machines to a large semiconductor company for more than $300 million, to fuel Smartron’s funds. Cashing on the rich experience and credibility Soft Machines built over the years, at Smartron too, Lingareddy intends to work with those global investors in the further growth of the company.
Few weeks back, Smartron was in news for stepping into a new vertical. The company recently invested in an Indian e-bike company Volta Motors. This move, according to Lingareddy, opens broader avenues to deploy its tronx platform and to foray connected vehicles and ride-sharing segment.
Smartron has an exciting set of products lined up for 2017 developed both organically and sourced through its ‘open innovation platform called crowdtron’. The company plans to launch a 14″ Ultrabook, smart routers, wearables and other accessories besides enhancing the IoT capabilities on the tronx platform.
“Through tronx we will build our IoT ecosystem by leveraging and collaborating through alliances offering unique value proposition in IoT space to individuals and enterprises. Presently, we have built tcloud, tcare on the tronx and intend to create more unique services that will integrate with the platform offering great convenience to the end users,” optimistically envisages Lingareddy.
Recently, Lingareddy and his team inducted former Chairman & CEO of Motorola Mobility, Sanjay Jha, to its board of directors. Jha is currently serving as CEO of US-based GlobalFoundries and is also the COO of Qualcomm. Besides, being an investor himself, Jha will be an independent director with Smartron. Jha will serve as a mentor and strategic advisor to strengthen Smartron’s operational excellence and global expansion road map. Jha believes that there are huge opportunities Smartron can address in consumer, enterprise, industrial and infrastructure markets with the integration of devices, sensors, and services and by innovating and investing in disruptive IoT and AI technologies.
So, with Smartron’s passionate commitment to the Make in India mandate, it is certainly on road to peg itself in the top 100 global brands.