In agricultural India, farmers have to walk miles daily to operate their irrigation pumps. Rampant power cuts with no fixed time slots further add to their plight. After reaching the field, they find out that power supply is not available. Real System’s Mobile Starter Controller is helping farmers solve this challenge. Device helps them check availability of power supply and switch pumps ON/OFF remotely via a missed call.
How does it work?
Hardware reqirement: Real Mobile Starter Controller and a cell phone.
When farmer makes a missed call to SIM fitted in Realtech device, it responds by sending SMS to farmer’s mobile stating whether power supply is available or not at that point of time.
If power supply is available, on second missed call motor is turned ON and farmer is informed about the action via SMS including time of start.
Third missed call switches the motor OFF and sends SMS to farmer’s mobile phone confirming the task.
SMS is sent to farmer in text (local language) + picture format as majority farmers don’t understand English or are illiterate. Product currently supports, seven regional languages. To avoid control by anybody other than farmer (or his family) , five cell phone nos can be programmed and device ignores calls from any other unidentified numbers.
Price & Operating Costs: Product has 3 models with price ranging from Rs. 4,500 to 6,500.
Operating cost for the farmer – he has to maintain minimum balance in his cell phone to make missed calls and bear the SMS costs relating to SIM installed in Realtech’s device.
Below is brief QnA with the Mr. T. Kumar, founder of Realtech Systems.
PI: Can you share your background and what made you start Realtech Systems?
I am a diploma in chemical engineering by education and have been an electronics hobbyist for long. After completing my education, I started a computer training institute and continued playing with electronics in free time which gradually translated into small projects from local industries.
In 2006, my venture was incubated at Technology Business Incubator, Kongu Engineering College where I got the infrastructure and support to design and develop products as per industry standards / practices.
PI: How did you come up with this idea and how long did it take to develop a commercially viable product?
I come from rural background and my family is into agri-business. So, this gives me a very good understanding of challenges being faced by farmers in rural India. Managing water supplies in their farms is one of the key challenges and I started working on that.
Development of product started 3 years back. We came up with our first prototype after 6 months from starting date, which was given to 20 farmers for trial.
Product’s first version was not controlled / operated by missed call; farmer had to type a message in English (ON / OFF) to operate the motor. We learnt, customers were not very comfortable typing a message, for them mobile was a device to make calls.
So we had to go back to our lab, redo the product and run trials again. It took 1.5 years to release current version of the product commercially.
PI: What is current scale of your business?
We have sold 1,000 units so far, with a turnover of 50 lacs coming from the product in past one year. We have a network of 30 dealers in South India and recently appointed distributors in Indore and Pune to cater markets in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra respectively.
Regarding manufacturing, we don’t own any plant. Hardware is sourced from a vendor who manufactures that as per our design and quality standards. We have patented software, which is programmed into hardware at our office.
PI: What are future plans of Realtech?
We feel automation of pumping stations is still a huge opportunity apart from our current product. Imported solutions available (priced at few lacs) are affordable only by few large farmers. We are working on developing product to automate pumping stations as per needs of local farmers at prices affordable by masses. This will take few more months.
So far, we have been dependent on bank loans and personal funds to grow our business. Once this product is launched, we plan to look at venture capital funding as well.
[Are you an entrepreneur or an innovator developing technology products servicing needs of rural India? We would like to know about your venture. Send us your details and we will get in touch at the earliest possible.]