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This New Age Deep Tech Startup has Build Something Non-Obvious

Bert Platform Solution is perfectly able to adapt another way to build something which is truly non-obvious to solve and with very high impact.

Rohit-KocharBert Labs, a Karnataka-based global new age deep tech company solving the world’s challenges by ensuring efficient use of available resources through its patented AI-IoT technologies. It has proven solutions in the space of efficiency improvements in energy, production, and supply chain across industrial and commercial establishments. During an interaction with Nitisha Dubey; Rohit Kochar, Founder, Executive Chairman & CEO, Bert Labs Private Limited highlights the special offerings of Bert Labs. He also talks about the upcoming technological demand and the future growth.

Kindly explain Bert Labs and its offerings.

I, Rohit Kochar, with 27 years’ experience of building high growth, highly profitable, high valuation global companies, founded Bert Labs in 2017. At Bert Labs, we have built Artificial Intelligence – Internet of Things (IoT) powered Bert Platform Solution for Energy Efficiency Improvement which are effectively and efficiently used at factories, manufacturing plants, production facilities, R&D facilities, commercial buildings in FMCG, pharmaceuticals, cement, automobile, and other heavy engineering industry verticals in developed & developing markets, and also work for supply chain planning & logistics efficiency improvement.

Bert Labs product & solutions

  • The Bert Platform Solution is a proprietary, patented AI–IoT powered, 360 degree, fully automated, integrated Control solution, where Bert Maximus – Bert Qrious – Bert Nova – Bert Optimus work seamlessly with each other
  • Bert Maximus is suite of 7 proprietary, patented IoT devices, which gives Bert Platform Solution the ability to real time sense and control
  • Bert Qrious is proprietary, patented IoT powered Wireless Sensor Network, with several salient features, like data security and remote software updates. Bert Qrious gives The Platform Solution the ability to real time transmit data
  • Bert Nova is proprietary, patented Distributed Computing, Microservices Platform, which gives Bert Platform Solution the ability to store Big Data, Process Data and real time compute on Data from public Cloud (Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud), on-premise server, Edge Device (Bert Aksh)
  • Bert Optimus is the brain of The Bert Platform Solution, with proprietary, patented Multi-Agent Deep Learning & Reinforcement Learning Hierarchical Platform, for real time computation and control commands to be sent to Bert Qrious – Bert Maximus, to actuate controls at Process Line/Utility Equipment & Machines, to bring 1. 40%+ Energy Efficiency Improvement for manufacturing plants and commercial buildings, 2. 3%+ Production Efficiency in Process Lines, 3. Improvement in life of Process Equipment by 2 years, 4. Supply Chain Planning and in-bound & out-bound logistics Efficiency resulting in 5% reduction in freight

Kindly share your journey and agenda for setting up the company.

I always wanted to build an institution from India.

Over my professional journey with GE and American Express, I realised that there is lot of entrepreneurial ability within me in terms of problem solving, client focus, leadership, setting up a clear vision and followed by strategy in execution. Clarity of thought was very strong from the beginning, and I wanted to leverage on this by starting a small company and then building it up.

Ability to work very hard has given me an early start. I have been fortunate to have a fast-track professional career becoming a CEO before 30 and by the age of 37, I had built professional services as a CEO and worked with – high growth, high profitability, high valuation companies and businesses. All that passion and having the courage in the conviction to give-up a cushy corporate career has given me the strength to be an entrepreneur.

I did not want to do anything which I did in the past for my entrepreneurial company. India and Indians are very good at Information Technology (IT) or software however, we haven’t been able to develop the culture of research and innovation, so that became one of the tenets on which I wanted to pursue my entrepreneurial journey in terms of technology led problem solving product platform.

My entrepreneurial idea germinated from my personal experience with my father, later on with my mother. My father went through lot of serious ailments. Even though he recovered well, there was fear of these chronically ill diseases, affecting with any lacunae in medicine, food regime, or workout regime which could culminate in fatality. So that helped me in focussing, gave me a purpose and idea, to have sense-connect-act. Vital parameters are sensed, detected by hospitals, nurses, and doctors in real-time and analysed, processed and timely actions are taken. And that is how I started Dice Automations, a company in stealth mode, by end of 2015.

I began thinking on how I can scale this up to other industries, that is where the focus on energy efficiency improvement started. And then the space was evaluated, and different aspects of energy generation, energy distribution and energy consumption were mapped.  For the last five years, Bert Labs has been helping clients achieve their sustainability goals, capital efficiency goals and bring-in the direct impact on profitability.

How to build an innovation-led successful company?

I got completely inspired by the innovation led mindset at GE capital international services. At the annual 6 Sigma innovation carnival, they used to generate 300, 400, 500 ideas across the organisation.

I am of opinion that, we should start thinking how we can conceptualise a solution around the problem without resorting to any reference point. For example, we have built a product for solving energy efficiency challenges for our clients and then we train the minds of researchers and developers where the next version of Bert Platform Solution can be evolved. Once you get into the client ecosystem, you help the client to realise their latent needs, needs you know that they didn’t realise until that time.

Our solutions also entail lot of consulting with the client and working closely with them. Bert Platform Solution is perfectly able to adapt another way to build something which is truly non-obvious to solve and with very high impact.

Inspiration at Bert Labs is also driven from incentives, both in terms of recognition as well as the monetary rewards for any new ideas which get translated into design and architecture. And pursue as product development and through that patent which get filed and patents which get granted.

So, this is how we build innovation led successful company and hoping and working towards one of the most innovative companies on planet Earth.

How can India capitalise on hardware and software led companies?

We were discouraged by a lot of business leaders in the embedded space, to not build sensor devices, control devices because these were already available from tech giants like Siemens, Honeywell etc. But we still decided to build Bert Labs where we bring in both hardware and software capabilities. There were several reasons to it.

Bert Labs journey is a well thought journey. If you see the history of companies who have sustained themselves over decades are those companies who have both software and hardware capabilities. We generally use the example of Apple products. Why iPhone despite being a premium phone is still an aspirational product is because of the seamless experience between hardware and software which the phone brings together. So as part of Bert Platform Solution we wanted to give our clients that seamless experience and this becomes one of the biggest differentiations to bring in unprecedented impact on energy efficiency, production efficiency improvement and quality improvement. This will go onto Bert Labs becoming an institution and therefore contributing towards India’s economy.

As part of building Bert Labs, in several investor meetings, they have told us that investing in a company where there is a strong hardware element is a high risk because India doesn’t offer the infrastructure. We are building Bert Labs firmly – where there is Bert Maximus and Bert Qrious platforms are seamlessly integrating with the Bert Nova and Bert Optimus Platforms.

We have to also think about advantages of building more companies with hardware and software capabilities. Bert Labs setting up its own manufacturing hubs or research centres, will employ researchers, innovators, manufacturers, designers and will create ancillary enterprises products and services, therefore generating employment.

How is Bert Labs helping the young generation to look at the big picture and helping the innovators grow?

This has been the challenging aspects of building Bert Labs, inspiring younger generation to look at the big picture and help in innovation. Innovation takes time, patience, perseverance, sacrifices and postponing your gratification for a later date.

The younger generation come with a very short horizon or shorter attention span. The instant gratification mindset is not helpful

Bert Labs has been trying to inspire younger generation through one’s own example in terms of driving the company, driving everybody in the company and as one team towards the larger goal. This will have larger societal impact.

Problem solving through innovation will make the difference. It becomes the fundamental theme towards inspiring and then execution, which is done daily and consistently. Achieving major milestones and then final goal of solving complex problems through Bert Innovation. At times you know larger goals need to be broken down into very small goals which have  visibly very achievable goals.

So this is how we are able to bring in 52% energy efficiency in our first execution at Unilever House that becomes an inspiration for the team to work harder towards the next execution at the paint shop of a leading automobile manufacturer and utility system energy efficiency for a large pharma production facility among others.

Now with the execution of these first sites, our innovators are able to experience this success of problem solving which becomes impetus for them to focus on the next level of innovation and drive and continue to drive complex problem solving because this journey is literally a journey. It will always be a work in progress, will never get to a destination.

What are your plans for building an institution out of India?

I have been part of several institutions in the past, American and European companies that have been around for several decades and are in the Fortune 500 list from and over the past 3 decades or so from China. India has been ranking abysmally low in this list because of a fundamental mindset challenge – whatever we do we will do it for today.

So, when we founded Bert Labs the one of the fundamental theme around which we wanted to build and invest everything what we had earned both in terms of equity, the net worth, experience, is with the final objective of building institutions which would last forever.

Obviously, it means beyond me and beyond all the other stakeholders who would building this company. Now for us to do this we have to build a very strong foundation built on strong value system. We live by the adage that you may not be nice to people but every time you are fair to them.

Therefore, we chose our clients and partners very carefully where there is an alignment on values systems. From day one, we focus on having a problem led approach rather than having a product led approach.

At Bert Labs, we have looked at the problem the way our clients see it, experience it, and that’s what we did when we started to address energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The number one energy guzzler in commercial buildings is HVAC – heating ventilation air conditioning. So, we visited lot of commercial buildings around airports, hotels, hospitals, office complexes to talk to the stakeholders there who use HVAC system and from a user standpoint what are some of the impact of how HVAC systems are controlled We identified lot of gaps and understood the problems and then conceptualised our solution around the problem statement exactly bridging these gaps.

We always try to bring in people who have the common thread of being bound  through the value systems. The sense of ownership, the talent to back it up, deliver on innovation, solutioning, or signing a sales deal or an investment closure is the way to building an innovation led institution out of India.

What according to you are the key challenges deep tech early-stage companies need to tackle?

I strongly believe there a few elements which can be improved in the ecosystem to give a short in the arm of deep tech early-stage companies.

  1. Around government Policy: Presently there is no policy around AI, ML / IOT – neither in India nor globally. It is imperative to give a structure to the industry.
  2. Universities and Talent perspective: Building a deep tech early-stage company requires top level talent. Currently at the university level, the young generation needs to have more hands-on industry experience. Encouragement towards research and innovation, and right temperament is the need of the hour.
  3. From a client perspective – Industry leaders in their factories and buildings solve problems of energy consumption reduction being comfortable with older ways of doing things. Like BMS systems, has been prevalent for several decades. To bring in level of automation, understanding, valuing – deep tech like, AI, ML, IOT etc. and showcase the benefits, to make them understand how the new technology can improve the overall business, convince the client is become a game changer, for them and for their employees.
  4. The environment of investment – Is RoI driven and therefore time driven. Research and Innovation fundamentally needs patience and, diligence, for a considerable period. There is lack of awareness and inclination to bring in capital for the same.

What do you think about the evolving deep tech landscape in India?

Innovation and research has taken the deep tech environment one notch higher in the recent times. It is encouraging to see some meaningful conversations, solutions and products coming out from India but we are still scratching the surface level. When it comes to the Research and Innovation, policy guidelines, finding an audience (which is client), finding capital and resources, talent and investment to build the ecosystem, which is inclusive in deep tech in India, there is lot needs to be done.

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Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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