19 Jan 2018, 09:26 — 8 min read
Kaushik Mudda and Navin Jain were only in their seventh semester in college when the entrepreneurship bug struck them. Limited by their budget from buying the kind of machine they needed for an engineering project, they decided to make their own. Realising they could pursue this full-time, they began working out of a garage and within a year had a team of six people and full-fledged company called Ethereal Machines. Today, with a team of 24, they are pioneers in their field and are the only company that combines subtractive and additive manufacturing. They have won the ‘most innovative product’ award for their multi-access 3D Halo printer at the coveted Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Their vision is to make powerful technology available at affordable prices to entrepreneurs in the engineering world.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Kaushika Mudda (KM) and Navin Jain (NJ) share the story of their entrepreneurial journey. Watch this video to learn more:
GL: Tell us about your business.
KM: Navin and I started Ethereal Machines in our seventh semester at college in 2014. We are into subtractive manufacturing and additive manufacturing. We were making drones and robots for our projects in college and realised that we needed more precisely cut out parts. For that we required a CNC router. This was extremely costly and out of reach, especially for college students. We decided to make our own CNC router. We made it in a small garage. For about a year, we were working from the garage itself. From marketing, manufacturing, assembly, sales to logistics the two of us handled everything end to end.
A CNC router is used for precision cutting or engraving. You can feed a block of wood, aluminium, brass etc. into the machine and feed a design into it. The machine will cut the material based on that design. Our machine can be used for a lot of precision cutting. For instance, if you are cutting out wings for drone production with some material, you need to have consistency when you’re in mass production and our machine can help achieve that.
Navin is the technical genius behind this firm and looks after the manufacturing and prototyping. I handle the marketing, accounts and finance. When we started out, Navin would make the machine and I would run around the country trying to sell the machine. We got our sale from a client in Punjab even though we started in Bengaluru. Our clients are from across the spectrum. At one end we have hobbyists who might use it for engraving, but we also have manufacturers who would use it for drone production, for textiles, maker spaces etc. The maker spaces help budding startups in creating prototypes of their products at short notice, within days.
Ethereal Machines(EM) is backed by the Lalbhai group. Mohal Lalbhai has joined the board as a director and is a mentor and investor for the firm. Recent achievements such as the CES 2018 award would not have been possible without his involvement.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
KM: We have two different USPs. The first is the technology we build and the second is the team we have built over the years in Ethereal Machines. In terms of technology, we have integrated subtractive and additive manufacturing. Additive is 3D printing, and subtractive is what we started with. There is no company that works on subtractive and additive manufacturing together. Both are complex, difficult skills to master but given the team we possess, we have the ability to work on both.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
KM: When we started, the challenge that we faced was that the machines needed a lot of precision to create. Huge industries are necessary to make these machines. It took a lot of trust-building to convince people that young people, still in college, working out of garage could produce the same quality of machinery.
Our next challenge is to scale globally. We want to be known as lead exporters from India - torchbearers in this sector. The Startup India initiative and the Make in India programme has helped us in a lot of ways. They have helped us secure intellectual property rights and have provided tax benefits that have really given us a helping hand.
NJ: The initial challenges we faced were finding the right parts, sourcing the right parts and making the machines user-friendly. We had to use custom parts and figure out what parts would be good which would be cost-effective, maintaining quality and easy to use for our clients.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
KM: The biggest achievement till date is winning an award at CES 2018. We are the only Indian company to win an award at the Consumer Electronic Show. The CES takes in America and is the world’s biggest event for consumer electronics. They have an innovation category which we applied for with one of our machines. The machine is a multi-access 3D printer called Ethereal-Halo which is capable of printing in curves. It can print layers and achieve a concave or convex shape. We have some patents filed for this machine and we will present this in 2018.
GL: Do you believe that the ‘ease of doing business’ in Bengaluru has improved?
NJ: If you compare it with the rest of India, the number of the startups that have come up recently is impressive. You have access to people from all fields. But if you compare it with other cities, we could get better technology in other places but not the same talent pool of people and exposure.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting & assisting SMEs?
KM: GlobalLinker ensures that there is a platform for genuine B2B contacts to get developed. This is important for procurements and sales. It is necessary to develop contacts beyond a personal network. This is where I feel GlobalLinker is making a change.
GL: What is your big business dream?
KM: The big business dream is not in terms of revenue. It is not in terms of team size. It is the number of lives we change with our machines. Our machines create entrepreneurs. People pick up our machines and start their own business. The number of entrepreneurs we create in the subcontinent over the next three years and the world in the next five is what will make us happy.
NJ: I would like to see Ethereal Machines in every town, in every state. With our machines, people would be able to achieve more and be at par with the rest of the world.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
KM: My only message to people looking to start a venture is to ask yourself why you’re doing this and how you can change lives with that product.
NJ: If you have a family business and it aligns with your interest, you should do it. But if it doesn’t, it is better to start something of your own. If you have a dream and a solid idea, you should not let go and keep trying till you succeed. With time, you’ll be able to crack whatever you want to do. Don't give up on your dreams.
Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured members. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.
Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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