"Having mastered tracking, we now want to get buyers and sellers into a marketplace where they can transact".
--Deep Krishna, Managing Director, DKG Labs
A winner of NASSCOM's 2014 Emerge 50 award for Enterprise Application Software, DKG Labs is a start-up specializing in the Internet of Things platform, with solutions targeted at the mining and logistics industries on tracking.
"We own the product portfolio of software and mobile applications related to tracking. DKG has tried and tested this product in the mining and logistics vertical, in a wide range of organizations such as Tata Steel, Vedanta, Coal India, NMDC among others".
The company was incepted in mid-2010 when an IIT-BHU Alumnus and experienced member of the Indian IT industry, with stints in companies such as TCS, GE, KPMG and Mahindra Satyam decided to start something on his own. Deep Krishna, who had worked in various roles across the value chain, and had a background in mining engineering, conceived the idea of a solution for the mining sector. "I thought we should begin with mining and then, with our plug-and-play offering, pitch the product at other segments, especially logistics and transportation. We used the mining vertical as our training ground", Deep says.
Recipient of BSE-SME National Award of Excellence and Hot 100 winner 2014 among other accolades, DKG Labs realized early in the game that rather than selling a product developed over the years, it was better to get it whetted from the industry, especially the bigger players, right at the start. "We picked an industry and the top five corporates in that sector and tested our product in the complex environment of these organizations. We did a thorough research before we picked our idea and then got the industry to whet it. The next step was capturing feedback and incorporating it in the final product", Deeps adds.
According to Deep, success for the company was the result of the fact that it was not just a GPS/VTS applications provider. "Rather, we positioned ourselves as a solutions provider, a company that understood the problems facing the industry and followed a solutions approach", Deep states.
It was also able to grow quickly owing to the fact that it did not stick to a particular industry. It developed engines and algorithms which worked across industries, so that it did not have to begin from scratch when entering a new vertical.
"We picked tracking as our domain, which we felt could work around mining and transportation. We matured our solution in the mining sector. Our model is scalable. We have been approached by Wipro and have forged a deal, where the company is using our products for its customers in the mining industry", Deep informs.
What DKG is basically doing is working with the larger companies, letting them run the restaurant and managing the kitchen itself. "By doing this we have created a new revenue stream for DKG".
Breaking even has also become easier in Deep's view. Typically, a software product takes more time to break even, which is why DKG has thought beyond just software development and at solutions instead. "While we have taken the more complex route, the long shot, it is the more sustainable and long-term business model", Deep says.
Speaking about the challenges that the company faced in its initially years, Deep says funding was a problem. "The product was ready, the trails done and we had the references. However, getting the funds to expand market reach was a challenge. With boot strapping, you can put in place two sales people for two regions. With funding you can have ten people working on ten territories!" , he adds.
Another problem was dealing with government projects and getting paid for the work. "The government needs policies for start-ups that encourage them to pitch for tenders. While they have the capabilities, start-ups fail to deliver as they are unable to provide bank guarantees to receive an advance payment".
Finding the right talent, however, was not an issue for DKG, which hired people with an entrepreneurial mindset, put them on to products, and once they matured, got them to work on projects. In this way, it skilled them in the right manner for its products as well as customers.
Advising other start-ups on how to create a winning market strategy, Deep says, they must form an advisory board at the very start of their journey and follow its advice. Thinking of the target customers and from their frame of reference is additionally critical.
Speaking about the future plans of DKG, Deep says the company is set to launch a platform for the logistics and transportation industry. "Having mastered tracking, we now want to get buyers and sellers into a marketplace where they can transact. We also want to innovate more in the tracking area, basically move to the next level with more applications in tracking, GPS, RFID, etc. The idea is to take the apps on the mobile platform.
Over the next three years, the company is looking to increase its market share in other industry verticals. In terms of geographic footprint, DKG has already begun activities in Australia and is looking for funds to target the continent.