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2015

The future is here and so are Smart Cities. With internet connectivity becoming pervasive, the ‘Internet of Things' (IoT), has become a thing of the present. By embedding a chip into any physical object like a shoe or a traffic light, it can collect data, analyze it, connect with the internet and send information to a database in the cloud or to a specific application. Countries and entrepreneurs are figuring out innovative ways to enhance devices and systems to get the best out of available resources. As IoT grows, some of the possibilities that come into play are:

 

Infrastructure
Utilities will become the more powerful aspect in the Critical Infrastructure IoT space. These will deliver vital services to large numbers of people. Some of the major trends in critical infrastructure that come into play will be:

 

 

  • Through a combination of sensors, smart grids and scheduling software, it will be possible to forecast demand and deliver electricity 24x7. Smart metering will enable automatic billing and smart payments could link payments directly to mobile phone or credit bills.

 

  • The air we breathe can be kept track of through pollution monitors.

 

  • Just-in-time and the right quantity of water through embedded moisture monitors in public gardens.

 

  • Smart Roads giving us information of traffic jams and accidents and alternative routes that we could follow, in addition to monitoring the condition of the road surface so that repairs can be done on time. Smart Traffic Management can control duration of traffic lights, speed limits, routing, etc.

 

  • The Smart Parking Systems use a wireless sensor technology embedded in the pavement. This gets the information about occupancy and parking patterns and helps drivers get a parking space faster. These sensors help in reducing traffic congestion. Smart parking meters could detect smart sensors in your car to automatically bill your mobile phone for parking charges. Smart toll collectors could automatically charge the toll to your mobile bill even as you zoom through the highway at over a 100Kmph.

 

  • Embedded smart stress monitors to check on unsafe buildings, bridges, etc.

 

  • Smart cameras with facial recognition facilities could keep track of roads, pedestrian areas for security and safety.

 

 

Healthcare

 

 

  • It will also become increasingly possible to monitor patient health remotely. Using smart sensors worn by citizens as devices or even woven into their clothes, vital parameters of the patient get transmitted onto secure cloud based platforms, where they can be stored and analysed. Emergency services can be activated if the patient's parameters so warrant.

 

  • New advancements in medicine make data easily available for the doctors as well as the patients. A simple thing as reordering a medical prescription can now be done by just swiping the bar code on your smart phone. The number of people ordering their medicines in this manner in US is increasing day by day.

 

Citizen Services in a Smart City

 

  • Your Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled mobile phone or other wearable device would allow you access to the metro, buses and trains, entry to the office, use of the ATM, shopping, etc.

 

  • Smart devices with embedded intelligence, like your set top box, or electricity meter, would send you a message telling you that a payment is due and take instructions for payment verbally.

 

 

The Indian Government is working on a plan to make twelve smart cities over the next five years with an estimated budget of Rs. 50,000 crore. According to Frost & Sullivan: "We identified eight key aspects that define a Smart City: smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen." Of course, the foundation for all has to be the availability of a fast, reliable internet connection for all and at all places in the smart city.

 

Are we ready for smart cities? Watch this space for more about the key aspects that are important to build a well-functioning smart cit

Written and shared in email by Vicky Jain, CEO, Convergence Services

 

In one sentence: I would describe SIDBI funding as an alternate source of finance in the form of unsecured debt, which involves a lot of documentation and paper work  

 

About our Company and business model:

 

Convergence IT Services PVT LTd (www.convergenceservices.in) is a web development company started in 2008, currently doing business in following verticals:

 

  • Website & Web application development
  • Web hosting
  • Enterprise collaboration Platform (our product, uknowva.com)
  • Website and Open source support / maintenance services (convergencesupportdesk.com)

 

We had asked for funding mainly for enhancing our product uKnowva, which is a competitor to products like yammer, podio, etc in terms of features and user base and taking it to the global market.

 

The complete story:

 

  • May 2014: It started with an email from NASSCOM for nominating our organization for the SIDBI funding. The application form was a 6 page form, which had requested a brief about the business, need for funding, past revenue figures and promoters information.

 

  • June 2014: We submitted the application.

 

  • July 2014: We got selected for the initial screening, where in the selected companies were supposed to send across a detailed note on the business model, revenue, need for funds, etc. This is where the  paperwork actually started. The application form was a 25 pages form and most of the things requested in it were very new to us as it was our first time.

 

  • September 2014: The paper work required was so much that we almost took a month to collate all the required documents and submit hard copes of the same to SIDBI office.

 

  • October 2014: SIDBI screened all the applications for about a month and finalized on a few out of which we were also selected. We were then directed to make a presentation about our plan to NASSCOM Regional Council on whose recommendation SIDBI finalizes loans for IT based companies. We made a presentation and all the members were pretty much convinced.

 

  • November 2014: We had to do a final presentation to the SIDBI board as well since they wanted to know in detail about our plan. We made the presentation and were successful in convincing the Board. This is where our application was given a final green signal

 

  • December 2014: A lot of paper work was done including giving all CA certified past financial records along with quotes and invoices of all the expenditure already done by our company towards the proposed business model. These were finally submitted to SIDBI central office @ BKC.

 

  • January 2015: In SIDBI, loan sanctioning is done by central office which is @ BKC and disbursement is done by local branch office which is @ Andheri in Mumbai and the same paperwork has to be again submitted to the local branch office too. I believe this is completely redundant and SIDBI should find a better alternative to this process.

 

  • February 2015: We finally received the funds. Hope we will repay it soon and achieve what we had planned for

 

How SIDBI funding is different from Angel/VC investment

  • It is a debt, so, it needs to be repaid back with interest.

 

  • The good part is you do not need any collateral like property, etc that will be mortgaged against this loan. It is totally unsecured.

 

  • The risk is a bit high on the company's side.

 

  • Unlike getting Angel / VC funding, which usually is a full time exercise, getting SIDBI funding is a very defined process where in you can concentrate on your business as well as fulfill the SIDBI application process.

 

The Pros & Cons

 

Pros:

 

  • No loss of control to VC / angel investors as equity is always with the owners.

 

  • The tenure of repayment is around 6 to 7 years. which is fair enough for a good business model to generate enough revenues.

 

  • There is no collateral needed. This is a normal case with many startups, they do not have anything to give to banks as a guarantee against the loan.

 

  • If you are able to repay the loan on time, SIDBI will fund many bigger projects of yours in future.

 

  • Once you are SIDBI funded, many banks that were earlier refraining from even giving an Overdraft facility, will start running behind you for taking their financial services :)

 

 

Cons:

 

  • As it is a loan, it needs to be repaid back with interest.
  • It can have a very heavy impact on the growth if revenues do not start as per plan because EMI to SIDBI will start from day one.

 

  • It is a bit slow process as a lot of paperwork and documentation needs to be done.

 

 

Dos and Donts

 

  • Do Plan accurately: SIDBI needs record of every penny that you spend through their disbursed loan amount, every month you need to send out the invoices, salary slips, etc which are proofs of all the expenses done. So, you need to have a perfect plan as to how much amount you are going to spend in what area.

 

  • Do Contingency planning: SIDBI says whatever we had asked the money for, that amount should be spent in that direction only. So, if you plan to divert your HR related funds in sales & marketing, then you need to get into another long documentation cycle. But business is very dynamic, many such cases might come up, so please properly plan for such contingencies as well.

 

  • Do Proper financial analysis: Every penny needs to be returned back to SIDBI with interest, so you need to do a very thorough financial analysis about your revenue forecast, etc. else a lot can be at stake. I would strongly suggest that companies who are already having a revenue stream should only go for SIDBI funding. Companies looking for incubation or initial investment should not go for SIDBI as you yourself are not sure when your revenues will start, but the EMIs of SIDBI will start as per the plan.

 

  • Do Milestone based planning: SIDBI also provides funds in multiple chunks, where in suppose you are looking for around 10 million over a period of 1 year, then you can setup different milestones like launch of MVP, touching a revenue of 1 million, etc and ask for a chunk of the money once you reach the milestone. This way you have a clear path for yourself plus your risk is minimized and also the interest does not start from day 1.

 

  • Don't ask for too much in start: Many people think that to get extra money from any source is always better. But, in this case, it is better to start slow as once you are able to repay what you have taken from SIDBI before time, then they will finance bigger amounts for you in future as well.

 

 

How good it is for budding organizations like ours

 

  • It is an alternate source of finance. It does take time, but if your planning and documentation is proper, you will surely see results at the end, which normally is not the case with a VC / Angel Investors, where many times entrepreneurs spend a lot of time after them and at the end receive a NO.

 

  • As I said earlier, It is not a full time exercise, so you can concentrate on business as well as do this in parallel.

 

  • As I said earlier, this is good only for companies that are already having a revenue stream or who are very much sure about a revenue stream starting by a given time as EMIs will definitely start as soon as the loan is disbursed.

 

  • Since this process involves a lot of paperwork and documentation many important things, which we miss before starting the company like having an insurance, having proper records about the IT returns, etc are completed during this process.

Confianzys is a leading Product Business Consulting and Product Management Training Organization (www.confianzys.com).

We recently introduced our Secret Sauce initiative, where we are conducting a one day workshop for product leaders on Road mapping and portfolio prioritization and impact on monetization scheduled for 23rd Feb in bangalore.

The workshops would be conducted by Rich Mironov - The Product Guy (www.mironov.com) who has been associated with multiple product companies in solving their product challenges.

We believe it will be of great value to you, especially to understand how product companies globally have solved portfolio prioritization and monetization challenges.

Please find below links to more information on the workshops.

http://www.meraevents.com/event/the-secret-sauce-product-roadmap-and-impact-on-monetization

Discount Code for Nasscom members: CONFYSS2015

Kindly register through the above link.

Thank you

Vijay Vir Singh

Why should you attend ?
"The really successful start-ups are those that believe that they are half right, and half wrong, and quickly figure out which half is wrong." - Rich Mironov, Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur a.k.a The 'Product Guy'

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