Grand Prize Winners of the 2019 HACKcelerator
At AngelHack, we go beyond “innovation theater” and generate startups that make a lasting impact. AngelHack’s HACKcelerator program takes hackathon winners and puts them through 12 weeks of idea validation, competitive analysis, user research, MVP building, launch, pilot testing, iterations & mentorship before a Global Demo Day.
After months circling the planet with AngelHack’s Global Hackathon Series, 16 teams entered into this final stage in July with Podnet emerging as the top team for 2019. (Here is the complete list of all the startups that were part of the 2019 HACKcelerator.)
Podnet is a communication network for IoT devices. Devices all throughout the city can connect to their network and send data to the cloud where it can be analyzed to gain actionable insights. They have built the prototype, tested it thoroughly and are already working with an e-bike company to track its vehicles throughout the city of Bengaluru. Applications of Podnet are broad and include : smart bin tracking, solar panel tracking, coronavirus applications & tracking of electricity consumption by real estate companies or hotels, for example.
We are all set to launch a Smart Energy Management Solution (Podnet Switch) that works on our network as well as WiFi, to lower the electricity consumption for small and medium-sized hotels and hostels. We intend to start production for Podnet Switch right after the situation becomes normal post lockdown. We are also in talks with the government municipalities for smart bin tracking in Smart Cities.
Apoorva and Sachin met through a common friend over a skype call about a year and a half ago where both of them wanted to work on problems that have a real impact. They started off working on small projects part-time before moving to work on Podnet full time.
What is one highlight of this past year?
The feeling of winning the accelerator was surreal. We couldn't believe that out of 10,000+ people from around the world, we were the best team. We were looking to give more structure to our plan of action as a result of participating in the accelerator, talk to experts in our domain and raise funds at the end of the accelerator, but were pleasantly surprised.
Talk to us about your HACKcelerator and Demo Day experience.
Angelhack's HACKcelerator was a great program, the structure of the program was almost perfect. The constant feedback from AngelHack's team was really helpful. The program got us thinking about fundamental things we need to keep in mind before we start the business. It helped us formulate a SMART plan of action and a working prototype.
We were very nervous coming into Demo Day, until the second to last day we had a very terrible pitch, we were still struggling to tell a story. We changed our entire pitch in one night. During a practice pitch on the next day (one day before demo day) in front of AngelHack's team, there was an explainer video on one of our slides which did not buffer properly, we were really disappointed. This small glitch pushed us to minimize all external glitches that might happen on demo day. We practiced the pitch a ton of times.
We heard everyone's pitch and we thought that there were a couple of really good pitches, we were not sure that we would win but we were still confident about our effort. The moment we were announced as winners we were jumping all over our apartment, it was the first indication that a lot of really experienced people resonated with our story and found it interesting and fundable.
Can you share a little about your progress so far?
Post demo day we have got our first big project in which we are helping an e-mobility company track their fleet of ebikes using our custom hardware and network technology. We decided to sell our network packaged with end-to-end IoT solutions that are compatible with our network and are easily affordable for everyone. We’ve successfully built our first packaged solution i.e. Smart Energy Management System (Podnet Switch) for small and medium-sized buildings, this EMS works on Podnet’s network as well as a residential WiFi network.
Where do you see Podnet in the next 5 years and what support do you need?
Podnet's mission is to accelerate the shift towards a more optimum world, a world that consumes less energy, wastes less resources, and increases yield with existing infrastructure. This can only happen when we can sense as well as actuate our environment efficiently. The road to an optimum world requires us to rethink and optimize our existing infrastructure and services and make way for new, better and cheaper hardware, software, and connectivity solutions. Humans tend to crave for higher efficiency which leads us to their insatiable drive for an optimum world. This fundamental way of thinking has enabled us to position ourselves correctly to benefit from an upcoming trend in IoT. We are not waiting for the trend to start, we intend to fuel it ourselves!
To execute our thoughts, we need to work with an amazing team. We are actively on a look out for IoT and communications industry experts, embedded firmware and hardware developers, and finally investors who share our vision, to accelerate the adoption of IoT in India.
How has coronavirus impacted your efforts?
Our supply chain has been hit and we are facing problems in building new devices. Meanwhile, we have taken the initiative to help in stopping the spread of this virus. We have launched our website for tracking symptomatic patients (patients who have the symptoms but haven't been tested yet) and allow people to find infected and symptomatic people around them with the click of a button! We do this by collecting some basic health information about them. Check it out here: https://covid19.thepodnet.com
These are the kind of ideas we hope to empower around the world. Follow Apoorva and Sachin to watch their entrepreneurial journey on LinkedIn (@apoorsin @sengarsachin0) and Twitter (@apoorsin @sengarsachin0).
Meet the duo from Podnet: