Collaborative Intelligence: In the business of partnerships

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Sangeeta Das, Co- Founder, Collaborative Intelligence
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Headquartered in Gurugram, Collaborative Intelligence (CI) is a tech startup that drives creative disruption through innovation and design thinking, building cutting-edge technology and transformational solutions with a mission to encourage indigenisation. The company collaborates with entrepreneurs, academies, industries and governments and supports the ‘Make in India’ policy.

With a strong global presence, CI is one of the first private R&D centers with a network of in-house and partner labs across India, USA, Israel, Germany and Brazil specialising in the robotics and AI space. Sangeeta Das, Co- Founder, Collaborative Intelligence says that CI’s products are not only recognised in India but also in the Asia and ME region. The company’s product range includes robotics, AI and cybersecurity, and the solution is defined by fusing high-end autonomous mobility solutions with human and signals intelligence. Recently the technology has been applied to address some of the most compelling problem statements in the Defense and Homeland Security.

Highlighting the channel marketing strategy of the company, Das states, “Considering, we are a research and development company; our focus is to identify and build technology that is innovative and cutting edge and disrupts the core functioning of our industries. It is imperative for us to have a strong marketing and manufacturing channel in our kind of business. While unique design is our strength, early adopters will obviously benefit from our technology and any delay in adoption will make our products obsolete. Thus for us to drive speed to market, we have ensure a strong and robust channel marketing and sales partner network. We have three of the top global marketing and manufacturing companies as partners. Just as sales is critical, manufacturing is equally important to get a high quality durable world-class product with a capability to produce large numbers. “ The company understands that speed to market is of essence and to meet this CI has invested in building a network that not only supports India as a market but internationally.

According to Das it is imperative for startups to have a network to effectively support sales. “Most of the tech startups should focus on innovation and value creation; a channel partner network only encourages commercialisation and product manufacturing. Some of immediate sales are critical to keep the startup motivated. Whilst industry pilots are important, sales differentiates ones product versus the industry and strengthens and positions the product,” she remarks, pointing out that for any startup, the process involves five levels, starting with demonstration, trials, pilots, and commercial application and finally sales. “For any startup to survive this process requires patience and a strong network of sales. Technology is ever evolving, there are brilliant ideas in the concept and lab stages, however to get it out into market for commercial application is essentially the toughest in our view. It is therefor important to identify the channel partners and work on an arrangement that focuses on sales and not merely retainer ship,” adds Das.

The company has taken steps to introduce its products globally. “Considering our business model, it works on collaboration and therefore by design, we have a global advantage. We are currently working with IIT, Delhi, ORT Braude and Tel Aviv University and a niche US engineering center. Our own labs in Israel and India are actively engaged in R&D and we are in the process of starting our second Mechatronics lab in India and other in-house labs in Brazil and Germany,” states Das, adding that as they start to expand their footprint, such affiliates are imperative.

The business model encourages commercialisation of patents through industry application and therefore CI’s focus before product development completion is to identify dealers and affiliates where they see a clear win-win situation. “We can therefore clearly state that we need a multi-industry, multi-country and multi-dealer strategy to drive sales for our startups today,” asserts Das.

While the technology offered by CI is industry agnostics, it is largely applicable in Defence and Homeland Security, oil & gas, railways and financial services. In addition, the product can be effectively utilised in national disaster and relief, mining and agriculture, and airports.

CI has to its credit, three patents in a period of less than two years. Das affirms that India is well positioned to drive innovation with significant steps and initiatives by the Government to encourage entrepreneurship, MSMEs and startups, innovation is at its peak and commercial application of such indigenised technology has been seen.

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