Today, we have with us Prayush Poddar, the Chief Marketing Officer, of an upcoming drone tech startup called Kesowa. Founded by Vinayak Malhotra, Vrint Poddar and Prayush Poddar Kesowa is a modern drone tech startup that wants to deliver the seamless experience to its customers, catering to commercial business, Kesowa aims that one can fly a drone for a specific operations be it surveillance, data capture or transportation in one click
Read ahead to know more about Kesowa!
Insellers – What’s the story behind the name – Kesowa
Kesowa – We shortlisted about seven names when we started out and one of those names was Keshava. Keshava is a very powerful name; it is the embodiment of Lord Vishnu in all the three avatars. Unfortunately, when we went to the registrar, the name Keshava was already taken so we had to look for alternatives. Post this we started looking at what Keshava means in different languages and we found out that in Japanese, Kesowa means lightness from darkness and that’s when the name clicked and we decided to go ahead with it.
Insellers – When was Kesowa founded? Moreover, why did Kesowa move from being an LLP to a company?
Kesowa – We founded the LLP around September 2019 and converted it into a company recently in September 2020. There are multiple reasons why we shifted from LLP to a company but it was majorly because a company makes it more easily acceptable to investors than LLP.
Insellers – When you started this company, why did you decide on such a niche market? How did you decide that this is the business that we want to do?
Kesowa – When we started, we wrote down a dozen ideas. Then it took us about six months to cut off ideas. And after 6 months drones were what made sense to all of us. The issue with any start-up in the aviation sector is that it requires a lot of patience, unlike e-commerce where you spend some time writing code and later spend some money in marketing, drone tech requires a lot of R&D, and as all of us were young it seemed like a perfect match. We think the aviation space needs patient capital and patient people and we found ourselves with those exact skills. Above all we believe that we chose this idea because we were comfortable doing it.
Insellers – What is your target audience? Moreover, why choose East India to set up your shop?
Kesowa – Right now, we are in the stage where we are trying to build out an MVP. Moreover, we chose Calcutta solely for the reason that we saw this geography as having the most headroom for growth in east India. However eastern Indian customers are not very pro-tech, compared to the west, and people have criticized us for setting up shop in Calcutta. Nevertheless, we are very happy because all the customers here are very excited about tech. They want to adopt new tech and dialogue is easier than west actually. So right now, we are focusing on building out case studies in East India.
Insellers – Moving on to the competition part. So do you have any local competition? On the other hand, is there a competition that is already in the sector for some time and has grown to a decent size?
Kesowa – There are about 30,000+ drones registered OAN Numbers, we are just one of the many in this space. We think everybody is a competition for us. The question boils down to how we add value to our customers. Is there a competition? We do not know. The market is evolving. We do have competition, but we ourselves are not very clear with what our competitors are thinking or doing. In addition, personally, we do not even track other’s progress, we are just focused on our customers and how we can solve their problems and that takes all the bandwidth of the team.
Insellers – What is the main marketing strategy that Kesowa uses? How is Kesowa approaching its customers and putting forward its idea?
Kesowa – We actually follow a very simple process. The first step is awareness, we write letters and emails to customers whom we think may have a problem that we can solve using our tech. We have a two per week policy, which means every week, we only write two emails, and every week, we only meet two customers. It has been about 40 weeks since we followed this policy and it proved to be effective. Seldom followed up to the email and letter is an appointment, it takes about a week or two, once we get an appointment with the customer, we have a one on one to understand what exactly is the problem, and whether we can solve it. Not every problem can be solved using drones or drone data, but if a customer gives us 20 problems, we just try to solve one. In addition, the first step is to do a pilot. If the pilot makes sense, then the customer chooses whether they want to incorporate this into their work schedule. If it’s feasible, then commercial dialogue starts.
Insellers – One of the things I have noticed about the aviation industry is that there is a lack of funding, what are your thoughts on this.
Kesowa – This space needs a lot of investment. One of the biggest issues in India is we have had hardly any investment in this space. It is like peanuts. If you have a million dollars, and you want to invest it, you would want to give it to the person who’s most likely to succeed with that money. The biggest limitation in India, with Indian entrepreneurs including us, is that we do not have access to products like other countries do. And it takes a certain amount of time and several mistakes to get there. In the US, you had aviation colleges; you had a lot of investment in this space for a decade and the developed countries have been building an entire ecosystem for this industry to flourish. In the US we have seen companies get 100-200 million funding, there have been at least $2 billion worth of investment in the US whereas, in India, I think we’ve hardly seen anything of that scale, two companies getting 5 million each. So as an Indian company, if you want to make an impact in this world today, you have to innovate. India is the best place to start but we have to be patient. We have no qualms about the Indian market. Everything is perfect. Rather, we would say the DGCA in India is perhaps the most active body in this area of the world. We have written laws that have not even been thought of by our neighboring countries.
Insellers – Do you believe that part of the reason things are going this smoothly for Kesowa could be that you are one of the early adopters in the space, even if there are players who have been living for a long time, but still the market is quite nascent as a whole.
Kesowa – While we, as Indian start-ups have been calling the market nascent Chinese manufacturer DJI sold, substantial numbers of drones in India, around 30,000 drones were sold. Even if you calculate two lakhs per drone, that is a 6000 crore market that’s created out of thin air. So the market does exist, and we have to understand that we are competing in a global environment. In addition, if we have to survive then the only way is if we can give a better quality product at a better price.
Insellers – I just wanted to know what other challenges you faced as a company, like in your day-to-day operations.
Kesowa – We don’t think we faced any challenges. We think every day is a learning curve. And we are uneducated, compared to larger business houses. Personally, as a team, we’ve had members who’ve had 8-10 years of experience, but as a company was very new. Aviation is a new space for us. We are making mistakes and learning from them and moving ahead.
Insellers – Are there any things that you have outsourced or plan to in the future? Apart from that, how is data maintained at Kesowa?
Kesowa – So firstly, on the data, we do not keep any data. We have a very clear policy of never owning data. Customers own the data at their premises. Regarding outsourcing, right now we are a startup. In the drone space, there was a company called airwave that tried to do everything, they started building R&D, they raised 400 million, and later they went bust. The whole industry knows about it, there are many more companies like this. If you look at the drones, there may be 20 components. We are focusing on only one right now. We are not building out other parts. We work with other software companies, other start-ups, and other hardware partners in the country, to make sure that at the end of the day, we can provide a solution to our customers.
Insellers – We have noticed that most of the co-founders have several startups to their name, I wanted to ask how do you manage all this workload and manage time?
Kesowa – I believe that there is a lot of time in a day and if we use it effectively then we can do it. We have something called the MJP – the monthly journey plan, a set of goals that each member has to accomplish by the end of the month and everyone tries their best to achieve their goals and do justice to them. Planning is very important, if you can plan it, it becomes a lot easier to get it done.
We wish Kesowa good luck for the future and hope they accomplish the targets they have set for Kesowa and take the Indian aviation industry to new heights.