Everyone is born with dreams and aspirations, but to pursue them all the way is a different ball game altogether. Most of us believe in giving our best shot, but have the tendency to quit after trying for a dedicated period of time. What we often forget is success is only a few turns away from the point we gave up.
Similar is the story of Saurabh Vij, founder of Curie Labs. Born in Delhi, after completing his PG in Nuclear Science from Delhi University, Saurabh dropped out of PhD from CEA, France, and worked in CERN, a European organisation for nuclear research.
He had the drive to start something of his own but not even in his wildest dream had he imagined that it would turn out to be an utter failure. When his first start-up failed after facing harsh realities of market place, he went into depression. At one point, in 2016, he had only Rs 8,000 in his bank account which further hit his confidence. He shut himself off and reflected on the minute problems that lead to the failure.
Saurabh realized that he had to take the responsibility of every setback so far and also that awaits him in future. The thing with his self-awareness was that it made him more confident and fearless. It helped him in de-coupling his confidence and bank balance and root it in a deeper and stronger foundation.
He started again with a dream which he felt more connected with, and that moved him deeply. To take his vision to that stage, he required huge capital and talent that came with his offering – help people save energy bills by using AI. Gradually, bit-by-bit after reading a few books and meeting some really great mentors, he, along with Abhinav Saksena, decided to start this new journey with a singular dream of reducing a million tons of carbon emissions from the environment by 2020. He found out that commercial facilities contribute to carbon emissions in the environment. A single unit of power consumed led to 0.5 kg of carbon emission.
A long-held desire to create an energy company, he started this second venture and as he learned a lot of lessons from the previous ones, those lessons served as the foundation of Curie Labs in 2016. From the starting he and the co-founder of Curie Labs, Abhinav, realized that since India is a price sensitive economy, they would need to enter the market from the angle of a consumer.
Going by that with the current resources they had, they entered the marketplace to understand it better by meeting people of the industry and understanding their real problems. Out of many loopholes, it became clear to them that HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems in a facility was the most power hungry system so they decided to focus all the energies on it. To handle this problem better, they hired few industry experts with deeper knowledge of how the system works and thus based on those ideas and market acceptability they created a product to solve such a big problem. This gave them the freedom as well as discipline to come up with a product, which was fresh, much more cloud connected and automated than any other solution available in the market. This smart cloud based automation of HVAC systems leads to significant savings for their clients.
“One of the biggest mistakes we all make as entrepreneurs is that once we get an idea we immediately start building the product. I made the same mistake in my last venture and spent almost 100% of my time on product development with no sense of market reality. So this time, we decided to understand market first and use that understanding as the foundation and framework for product development. This kind of customer-focused framework gave us a lot of courage to take our venture forward aggressively.”
Last year, Saurabh and Abhinav were appalled to see the levels of pollution recorded in Delhi and the country at large. Discussing the pollution problem, they soon realized that the buildings consume and waste most of the power used. They started engaging with mall owners and commercial office building managers to understand the real source of power wastage. They found out that there was a scope for massive improvements. It was their eureka moment! They realized that this problem could be easily tackled by leveraging the power of sensors and Artificial Intelligence. This research coupled with a strong desire to tackle this problem gave birth to, an energy analytic start-up that uses IOT and AI to help malls, hospitals, hotels and larger buildings save up to 25 percent power per month.
After being bootstrapped for a while and investing their own capital to build a workable prototype, it helped them in getting a few pilots and validation of their technology. This gained them investors’ confidence and helped in raising a seed round of $50,000 from Satoshi Studios.
Their dream is to someday in future give nuclear fusion energy to the world. Currently the lab has 10 full time employees and a few interns.