Clean-tech Startup ThinkPhi Aims For 70 % Orders From Global Market by 2021
BW BusinessWorld spoke to Priya Vakil Choksi, Co-Founder of ThinkPhi, who told us about her vision for the company and future plans.
ThinkPhi, a tech-driven company innovates simple and intelligent products, accelerating the advent towards a sustainable future. Its flagship product - ‘Ulta Chaata’ stands tall with a unique inverted canopy-shaped structure. This flagship product captures rainwater and harnesses solar energy to produce electricity. Its design thinking concept supports eco-friendly elements of water harvesting and renewable energy, ideal for smart cities, industries or large campuses. BW BusinessWorld spoke to Priya Vakil Choksi, Co-Founder of ThinkPhi, who told us about her vision for the company and future plans.
How did the idea of ThinkPhi come to you?
The idea was really driven from fascination and passion. We were fascinated to know how bad the climate change problem was and for years now I have been reading a lot and following documentaries about the subject. My passion as an architect and student of sustainable design is to create usable spaces. The first product, the smart “inverted” umbrella came about just by chance and more driven by the fact that I live in a part of the world which has heavy rainfalls and shortage of clean drinking water. I saw some inverted canopies when I was on travel but they provided a single function of just shade. I was able to integrate a water harvesting and energy generation feature into the product which then became a smart canopy. The thought of building a company and a brand around it came much later when we sold out first order of the smart canopies.
Can you brief us about the segments the company cater to?
We started with focusing on just businesses and targeting companies which were investing in “sustainability reports”. While that gave us our first few orders we currently are spread across many channels. Our customers are large factories, metro stations, airports, IT parks, residential developers, universities, office buildings. The list keeps evolving every day. We have also seen a lot of recent interest from Rotary organisations who wish to purchase the product as part of their CSR.
Any plans for going global?
Big plans! Infact it is already in motion. Just this quarter we shipped our first container of product to Singapore. The future for us is the global market and we want to be India’s first global Sustainable tech startup. While India has been a good starting point our orders we project 70 percent of orders to be coming from the global market by 2021.
Brief us about your investment plans, with the present valuation of the company.
We spent the first year as a bootstrapped operation and recently took in about INR 10 cr in angel funding. We are currently well funded to grow organically but to achieve a rocket ship growth we are currently in talks for a much larger round. Our last round at INR 110 cr post-money.
Brief us about the working model of 'Inverted Canopy'.
The basis of all models is that they provide rainwater harvesting. We have a range of products starting from a self-lit 1080W version and going on to the 1080E and 1080E+ which provide a larger energy output. Within these models, we have our interactive versions which provide applications like; mobile charging, hotspot, and soon EV charging. All this is powered through solar and integrates a battery backup.
What are your further plans for expansion?
My primary goal for the company is to achieve volume growth. In our first 6 months of active selling, we shipped out about 70 units. In comparison in the last 2 quarters alone, we have orders of 300+ units and we will probably end this calendar year with close to 1,000 units of orders shipping in India and other countries. My goal is to hit close to 30,000 units by 2021 globally.
What we are doing here is very disruptive, we have packed sustainability in a box, it is modular and can be quickly deployed at a competitive price. It provides functional value through shade and resource benefit through energy and water. At our price point, it’s hard for a customer to pass us up for conventional systems.
Are you looking for any Government support?
Yes, we welcome but it is extremely hard to access in India. Early stage or startup companies like ours are very agile and move at a rapid pace, our investors demand that of us. The pace at which government moves, on the other hand, would be counterproductive to our growth. If the government wants to support startups they need a separate desk in each ministry which can think and act at the speed of the startups who are looking for government support. We although have got orders from the government through private firms working on government projects.
Any new innovations you are coming up with?
Yes! As a product company, we have to continuously innovate on existing products or think of new ones. For now, we have some exciting applications coming up which you will hear more of in the next month. Some of the near-term ones which I can speak about is our EV charging and hotspot version which will be out this quarter.
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