In a remarkable achievement, Techgentsia Software Technologies, a startup from Kerala won the Central government’s innovation challenge to develop a video conferencing platform. In a five-month-long contest at different levels, the Aleppy-based Techgentsia knocked out several tech giants to win the challenge which can give companies like Zoom and Cisco a run for their money.
Techgentsia’s product ‘Vconsol’ was declared the winner by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi on Thursday. The product will also be adopted by the Centre through a contract and the company will receive financial support of Rs 1 crore, with an additional Rs 10 lakh, for the next three years.
Techgentsia Software Technologies was founded by a 44-year-old Keralite, Joy Sebastian, who quit his job as a Tech Consultant in Kochi to move to a smaller town in Alappuzha to pursue something he is passionate about. Joy calls Vconsol a ‘country-made’ one. “All of my staff are natives in my neighbourhood. For the same reason, I would like to call it software with village-virtue,” Joy told the media. He has been working in the tech field for more than two decades.
In order to pursue further in Research and Development with regard to video conferencing technologies, Joy and his started Techgentsia ten years ago. With bagging the Centre’s recognition, they hope that the software will hit the market soon.
“I started Techgentsia in 2009 with a friend, Tony Thomas. We were classmates from school, and he has now moved to Australia. We have been focusing on R&D in video-conferencing solutions from the beginning, and have a few clients from the US, Europe and India for our B2B model. We have grown over the years, and now employ 65 people,” was quoted saying.
The central government has been planning to develop an Indian equivalent of the Zoom, the popular video conferencing app. Joy says that the Vconsol has all the features that are available on Zoom” in the premium option. Security concerns were higher in Zoom.
“Security has been pointed out as a problem with Zoom. Vconsol has addressed it with tighter measures. Each participant will have a different password. And, to ensure that only those expected or invited are able to join the video-conference, an OTP verification code will be sent to mobile phones of participants,” he added.
The company could provide three times more features in its “next-generation video conferencing solution.” It will support up to 80 active participants and 300 passive participants. And the whole meet is streamed in single video stream and which would improve the video quality.
“Their demand was for 18 active participants but we could provide them with a product that is three times more capable,” Joy said. Such solutions, according to them, are currently provided by platforms like Zoom as enterprise packages which cost $50/month.
The competition was at three levels. They submitted the proposal first. From a large pool of applicants 1983 companies were selected. In the second stage, they were asked to submit the prototype and only 12 companies were selected. Techgentsia was the only company from Kerala. The central government gave Rs 5 lakh for developing the prototype. In the third stage, five companies were selected and Rs 20 lakh each was given to three companies and Rs 15 lakh each for two companies.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had announced an Innovation Challenge for Development of a Video Conferencing Solution under the Digital India Initiative on 12 April 2020.