Business Today

Fighting Counterfeits

The Pune-based company uses algorithm, AI and heuristic cloud technology to spot fake products and provide business intelligence.
Sanghamitra Mandal   New Delhi     Print Edition: December 2, 2018
Fighting Counterfeits
From left): Co-founders Abhishek Agarwal, Nitin Gupta and Yogesh Miharia. (Photograph by Anirudha Karmarkar)

1) The Founders

Nitin Gupta, Abhishek Agarwal and Yogesh Miharia. An NIT B.Tech., Gupta had worked for Yahoo, PayPal, eBay and others but decided to set up a technology consultancy called TezMinds. Both Miharia and Agarwal, former Cognizant employees and start-up co-founders, later joined TezMinds and the trio developed NeuroTags to spot counterfeits.

2) The Trigger

"Watching a documentary got us thinking," recalls Gupta who is a Hollywood buff. "It featured how a person often picked up fake products and how the counterfeits markets were growing. Right now, sales losses due to fakes have hit $1.6 trillion globally." The co-founders started looking for a foolproof solution as holograms and RFID tags only provide partial protection.

3) The Technology

After a year's hard work came NeuroTags, a sector-agnostic digital solution with a double security layer. The trio has used algorithms and AI to develop two mathematically linked codes or tags which are integrated at the assembly line after which everything is controlled by backend software. Out of the two, one is an 'open' tag on the package while the 'protected' tag inside can be accessed only after breaking the seal. Scanning the open code with your mobile not only provides product information but also enhances customer trust as this is an indication of authenticity. When the internal code is scanned post-purchase, the item gets tagged to the username and the 'status' of both tags gets updated on NeuroTag's server in the cloud. Understandably, these tags cannot be used for any further validation from any other device and that rules out replications. If products are stolen, their open tags often appear randomly at various locations. The AI system tracks all routing irregularities and an alarm is immediately raised.

4) Revenue

Now in its first sales cycle, the company charges a nominal fee for licensing and per-item price of the tags. NeuroTags also connects companies and their customers by running loyalty and e-warranty programmes, and offers business intelligence services which are not yet monetised.

5) The Way Ahead

Selling five-seven crore tags a year in India and the US. It is now patenting its technology and developing a blockchain-based secure solution for end-to-end supply chain payments.

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