Kerala is known world wide for its pristine backwaters. One of the best locations to experience this bliss is Alleppey. Pathirappaly is a coastal village in Alleppey. This village is soon going to make a mark in the global technology space.
Techgentsia is one of the 3 companies shortlisted by Ministry of Information Technology to develop a Make in India video conferencing solution. In the month of April 2020, Ministry had announced an innovation challenge to Indian companies / startups to develop an alternative to the global video conferencing solutions.
“I am from a fisherman family. My early education was in a government school and the first time I saw a computer was during my post graduation in computer application days. I had a tough time to complete the course. My childhood days were pathetic.” say Joy while sharing details of his early days. He then joined a company called Avaneir in Cochin. From then onwards, he has been working in the audio and video conferencing technology sector.
Joy gives complete credit of this achievement to his team. He said “the team has worked 24*7 to come out with this prototype in just one month’s time”. This 10 year old startup is based out of Kochi and has 50 engineers working with them. They have specialized in the research and development of audio and video based conference solutions during the last decade.
“My friends pushed me to take part in this innovation challenge” says Joy. He is happy with the prototype and is confident that it is a quality product.
You can listen to the complete interview which was done using VConSol video conference solution by clicking the link: Conversation with Joy:- How the video conference industry has changed in the last 5 years with the onset of WebRTC, where we compared the features of this prototype with Zoom, spoke about his humble beginnings, journey of last 20 years in this technology space. We also spoke about their unique ways of giving back to the society – in the form of digital libraries in coastal areas to supporting a free food restaurant.
Joy has been working in the audio and video conference space for the last 20 years. He started his own company in 2010. There was even a situation in 2015 where it was in the verge of closure. But it withstood the turbulence and now have clients across the globe. Joy gives credit to his team who have stood by him. “Except 1-2 employees no one has resigned from Techgentsia. Most of them have joined from campus and are working with me for last 10 years. ” For an IT industry startup where attrition rate is always high, Joy has been lucky to keep the team together without much churning.
The team has worked really hard to bring out this video conferencing solution. They have decided to continue with the project code name ‘VConSol’ as the brand name, for now. “We are getting lot of suggestions, maybe we will do a poll later to decide the new brand name.” added Joy.
The product is not available for now in the market. They have to wait for the final results. If Techgentsia progresses in to the final round then the wait will be longer as the final product will have to submitted to the government for evaluation. But in case they do not make the cut to the next round then the product will be made available for everyone at the earliest.
“We will start with invite only basis. We are a small company and have challenges regarding infrastructure. So want to scale up slowly.” says Joy about his plans to open up the product to the market.
The expectation of Joy is to have 1000 customers in one month. But after using the conferencing solution during the interview, I feel that number can be achieved in less than a day or even in few minutes.
It is a great example of a brand which perfectly fits into the Vocal for Local movement.
This definitely is a great achievement for a small startup based out of Kerala. In addition to this, I was amazed to learn about the ways in which they are giving it back to the society.
Joy along with the help of many volunteers is building the base for many more founders from his village. They have converted 13 libraries in their locality in to digital learning locations. They have provided desktops, internet and conduct mentorship at these libraries. Just before the start of Covid, they had distributed 250 tablets which has now come in handy for all the kids. “In coastal village of North Alleppey, no one will be facing a digital divide. We are trying to minimize it.” – added Joy with a pleasant smile.
The complete Techgentsia team dedicated one month of their time to develop apps and carry out relief work during Kerala flood. They were helping the people stuck in Alleppey by building apps that can be used to trace, supply of food and other materials, etc.
“We also support a palliative care unit called Snehajalakam. We help them with physical as well as mental health support.”
To top it all, they are running a free food restaurant in Pathirappily. “We are running this on sponsorship” said Joy. “Anyone who wants to sponsor during their birthdays, anniversary, etc. can feed the people through this restaurant.” There is no cashier here. It is up to the individual to donate whatever they feel like for the food consumed. This place has been a great help for people during flood as well as now with the impact of Covid.
Dr. Thomas Issac, finance minister of Kerala State is the patron in most of these voluntary projects and Joy acknowledges the support extended by him.
Joy concluded the interview by saying : “The best things happening to Techgentsia will be directly reflecting to the Society.”
I hope to see Techgentsia winning this video conferencing solution. But on the other hand, I will not be disheartened if they do not get selected. This will make sure that the product will be available for everyone to use at the earliest :).
Joy Sebastian: Sustainable tech startup founder, giving it back to the society in the best possible way.