I have always been fascinated by one commodity on our planet: The People. I have always found them sensationally strange. Do you know why? Because people who have the strange capability to intertwine their strange lives with yours can create strange experiences you will strangely never forget. For me, Vicara is that experience.

The story of Vicara began as tale of 2 best friends who had a common love for futurism. Before we proceed, here’s some food for thought: We are closer to 2030 than we are to 2005! We were two final year engineers in Electronics at VIT University Vellore who were united by the same belief: The future is approaching fast, it’s time our technology kept pace.

I met my co-founder, Abhishek Satish in the first year of VIT University. Now, Abhishek Satish, was one of those people who only lived in the present when the future became too familiar. If impossible were a religion, he would be an atheist because no matter what people believed he couldn’t do, he did to a degree people couldn’t believe. Soon enough, he had developed a keen passion in Electronics and had learnt to invent the devices that other people could only imagine in movies. But nothing he had ever made, had ever made it to the light of the public. Simply because he couldn’t be bothered enough to handle the very subject he was making this technology for: People.

 

Adarsh and Abhishek
Me (Adarsh Warrier) and Abhishek Satish

It was at this juncture where my fascination for them began a chain reaction of events that would change my life forever. I mark the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey to be 1st August 2015 at VIT University, when Abhishek had invited me to go along with him to Pune to participate at the Intel IOT Roadshow 2015 where we were expected to develop any IOT based prototype in under 24 hours. It was here where Abhishek had the idea to create a futuristic gesture glove that could control any digital device in a room.

Intel IOT Hackathon
@Intel IOT Hackathon

Well, why Not? We were always superhero fans and the thought process was simple. How cool would it be if we could control all the technology around with just one device? The sheer excitement of the possibility inspired us.

On that day, we were the youngest participants in the room going up against corporate geniuses. We still managed to pull off a spectacular demo with a glove that controlled a PC as well as a bulb using just orange kitchen gloves and electronics expertise!

Abhishek with Kai Mark 1
Abhishek with Kai Mark 1. The Kitchen Glove

Although the experience was exhilarating, the idea remained dormant for many months after that. In April 2016, VIT University had introduced its first Startup competition ‘StartUp VIT!’ for university students. It was an opportunity that really captured my interest but at that point in time, I didn’t have a business idea to go with. This was when the brilliant idea to convert the old Hackathon project into a business plan was born. We were always fascinated with the power an idea could have on one’s life, and there, Vicara (The Sanskrit word for idea) Tech was born.

We decided to narrow down the scope of our project for clarity and make an intuitive wearable that can control the computer using gestures. The interesting thing is that money, rather the lack of it can turn dreams into nightmares. To overcome our first hurdle, we pooled in what little we had of it to make an early, more achievable device that could control a computer intuitively. We learnt to create a business plan and studied the fundamentals of building a startup. With a little understanding of business and a whole lot of heart, we entered VIT University’s first ever Startup Competition. To our greatest surprise, we were declared the Runners-up in the competition with a prize money of Rs.30,000!

Just like Robert Frost in the Road Not Taken, the road ahead diverged into two. We could have chosen to be content with the money or choose to build a dream from it. In a surprising move for college students (I am still surprised we did this!) we chose the latter and there was no turning back. Driven by the passion to see our dream come alive, we toiled hard after college hours and exams to work on our product, now named the KAI.

Soon enough, like any good Startup story, the money we had to develop our product was dwindling. The questions on academic commitment were only beginning to pour in when we came across a ray of hope in the form an Entrepreneurship grant of 1 lakh announced by the Technology Business Incubator at VIT University. Things took a turn for the better when we were among the only 3 startups who were declared to be eligible for the grant in the first round. Using our pocket money, we brought our own testing equipment and electronic gear and dumped it in Abhishek’s hostel room, which now resembled a Research lab more than a room. We conducted our board meetings in toilets, skipped lunches for discussions and even missed exams to pursue the realization of the KAI.

Old Workspace
Old Workspace

In June 2016, we received a mail from an organization called Venture Cup. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we realized we had been invited as 1 among the 50 top university startups in the world to pitch at the University Startup World Cup in Copenhagen. It was soon followed by an invitation from the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit to demo our product in Paris! Inspiration now became determination to prove ourselves to the world. With the help of 3 exceptional mentors, A. Balachandran from VIT-TBI and Salma Moosa and Vivek Srinivasan from the Startups Club, we learnt the fundamentals of building a business and crowdfunded 50,000 by demoing our product in various cities across India.

We soon had an exceptional product and a solid business plan to present at an international stage. When we left India in the hopes of conquering the world, life had other plans for us. When we reached our competition in Europe, we were truly humbled by the talent the world had to offer. It was here where we learnt the potential one could achieve if one didn’t set limits on themselves. From college students who sent satellites to space, to intellectuals who created human organs on a chip and from neuron data transfer to 3D pictures in a cube, we had been exposed to the latest in technology and brilliance. Our little invention on a hand looked like somebody had brought a hot wheels to a super car exhibition. However, instead of being disheartened, we became truly enlightened about the real potential they were yet to unlock.

University Startup Worldcup
@University Startup World Cup

We didn’t win any award during both our foreign events. Yet in our minds, our trip to an international platform was a story of victory. It wasn’t a victory because of what we were but because of what we realized we could be. We now had a better understanding of exactly what our weaknesses were and what is it that was expected.

In a surprising turn of events, our victory at the ‘StartupVIT!’ competition at VIT University gave us a wildcard entry to the National Demo Day 2016. The National Demo Day was a nationwide startup hunt that witnessed the participation of 94 startups from across 10 cities. This time, armed with newfound knowledge, we were ready.

On 11th December 2016, we were declared winners among 11 other full-time entrepreneurs from across 10 cities at the National Demo Day 2016. We were the youngest participants and the only college students in the competition and had managed to grab the 5 Lakh Prize at a national stage.

Demo Day Winners
Demo Day Winners. Vignesh, Abhishek & Me (Adarsh)

The feeling of winning the title is still something I do not know how to frame in words for I was literally speechless when it happened. But, perhaps more than anything, I recognized the victory as a validation of the dream that Abhishek and I both shared together. We suddenly understood that success, will always be on the corner, right after we reach the very edge of tolerating failure.

As we were called up on stage to receive the prize money, the jury imposed one condition on us. We must incorporate our company.

On 22nd March, 2017, Araciv (I wonder why) Technologies Private Limited was born.