SmartVizX, a leading virtual reality firm, creates interactive virtual environment based on 'Immersive Technology' for business applications and caters to sectors like real estate, insurance, furniture and interior design. Tithi Tewari, Co-Founder and Director, SmartVizX spoke to Gurpreet Kaur of Business Today on what SmartVizX deals with as a start-up and how Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Start-up India, Stand-Up India' will boost entrepreneurship in the country. Edited Excerpts:
BT: What are your views on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Start-up India, Stand Up India' initiative?
Tewari: I have no doubt that 'Start-up India Stand-up India' can be one of the biggest initiatives of Prime Minister Modi that will boost entrepreneurship and job creation in the country, if it is executed well. According to NASSCOM's India Start-up Report, India is already among the start-up communities in the world and slated to grow to 2.5 lakh by 2020. Hence, this campaign is poised to be that much awaited and needed impetus that existing Indian start-up ecosystem requires. The Start-up Act will also play a major role in promoting entrepreneurship among women and students who are building the next big business idea. The Start-up community is maturing exponentially and is contributing to nation's economy in many ways, most important one of them being job creation. I believe this is just the right time to nurture this ecosystem and maximise the benefits from it.
BT: Tell us exactly what SmartVizX deals with as a start-up.
Tewari: SmartVizX is a leading virtual reality firm that creates interactive virtual environment based on 'Immersive Technology' for business applications and facilitating novel consumer buying behaviour. The team at SmartVizX comprises of vastly experienced visionaries from the domains of architecture and gaming technology whose sole focus is on creating futuristic virtual environments that galvanize end users to explore unmapped products and spaces. The prime focus of SmartVizX is to help brands and companies do smarter business by implementing virtualization solutions. SmartVizX solutions help brands achieve massive success by enhancing consumer experiences and influence decision making. Currently, we cater to sectors like real estate, insurance, furniture and interior design.
BT: What early-stage challenges did the company face?
Tewari: Surprisingly not many. I mean whoever we went to with the idea was very receptive and encouraging. Very early while starting out we were constantly told that we should be prepared to face investor based challenges, be ready for a long haul before anyone expresses willingness to invest etc. However; we really did not need to go though any of that. One area of challenge that we do constantly face though is the hiring and that is because you really need to find the right people who share your vision that you have for your company and your venture.
BT: The government has promised loan amounts from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore for female entrepreneurs that will be repayable up to seven years. How far will it be beneficial for start-ups run by a women like you?
Tewari: Start-up India initiative intends to build a strong eco-system for women entrepreneurs nurturing innovation that will propel sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. The environment and perception about women entrepreneurs has changed considerably and it is comparatively easier to capture the imagination of investors. Women leaders are have time and again proven their mettle but there is a lot of scope for improvement. However, with the launch of Start-up India Act, I'm expecting some meaningful positive changes. A lot of women entrepreneurs who were limited due to lack of funds to scale up their businesses will benefit from this announcement of specific loans repayable in 7 years.
BT: What are your views on the taxation and labour laws that the government has introduced for start-ups?
Tewari: I gladly welcome the tax relaxations as they are bound have a huge positive impact, especially on the young entrepreneurs. Earlier, for start-up founders, many of whom were starting out their first ventures, the complex tax system was a great cause of worry and used to exhaust much of their time and resources. With the PM announcing that, for 3 years, start-ups do not have to pay any taxes on profits and capital gains will certainly motivate the entrepreneurs to divert all their energies to innovation and business expansion. Labour law compliance was another matter consuming a big chunk of the productive hours of start-ups. With the concept of inspection done away for 3 years, except written complaints, the process of hiring and maintaining resources will be smoother. The dispensation from labour laws will definitely reduce the regulatory burden on start-ups so that they focus solely on vital aspects of business.
BT: SmartVizX is using virtual reality in real estate and product design. Do you think the Indian market is ready for it?
Tewari: VR has become a global phenomenon and is well poised to alter the landscape in real estate and product design in India. At the soul of VR is Immersive Experience which allows buyers to have a real time look at what they are going to buy even before the product or the property is built. Consumers in India are always keen to experience, adapt and accept new technologies which can enhance their purchasing mannerism. We at SmartVizX work round the clock to bring highly efficient VR products to such consumers. For real estate, this means buyers are provided the ability to view and tour multiple properties from anywhere in the world, be it the comfort of their own homes or at their realtor's office. In India, most developers currently rely on model homes, 2D floor plans or 3D renderings to showcase their offerings. But it doesn't puts forth a clear picture. Our offerings allows users to experience the homes/ products in significantly more detail that they would have ever been able to do through pictures or virtual tours alone.
BT: Do you think the start-up culture is here to stay? What's its future potential?
Tewari: Start-up might be the new buzzword in town these days but start-up culture isn't a new thing in India. All the big corporate conglomerates today started out with a handful of people in a room. As per NASSCOM Start-up Report, India is currently the fastest growing and 3rd largest start-up ecosystem. I am pretty confident that India will soon become the most suitable nation for start-ups. Massive funding, evolving technology and an expanding domestic market are some of the key drivers for start-ups in India. The investment trends are positive and they fostering growth. The entire ecosystem is growing intelligently backed by strong market penetration and growing encouragement by angel networks including foreign investors.
BT: What advice will you give to entrepreneurs on how to compete in the start-up race?
Tewari: Honestly, it is challenging being an entrepreneur. Nothing can substitute smart-work, diligence and constant desire to learn; there is no shortcut to success! Every day you need to wake up with fresh and innovative ideas but that is the exciting part about it as well. Personally, I believe that becoming a successful entrepreneur involves a series of mistakes before finally coming up with that one right idea. The difference between people who give up and those who make it to the apex is sheer willpower and keeping one's mind open to suggestions and criticism. As a founder, it is must to keep a watch at every detail of your business. You must keep your sense sharp and keep track of all that goes around you be it finances, operations, internal process or profits. A good grasp on time management really helps! Lastly, never ever slip into the 'comfort zone'. Running a business is not a child's play and requires constant need for one to learn, grow, survive and thrive. Focus is the key here!