Gokul Shrinivas was a state hockey player before an injury ended his career and his prospects for any other for a long time. The injury affected his 10th board, limiting his picks for college. “Four-Hundred-plus rejections, can you believe it,” he says. Later, while interning for Amazon in IT, he realised electronics was his true love. MinionLabs, a Bengaluru-based startup that helps businesses and buildings become energy efficient, was born out of his final year academic project. And Gokul Shrinivas, aged 26, who is founder and CEO, is determined to see it through.
Energy Monitoring is a complex function that requires either the installation of a traditional meter or a smart meter, with sensors on every device in a house or a building, involving huge capex. The complexity of doing the right thing often dissuades positive action. MinionLabs created a smart AI (artificial intelligence)- and ML (machine learning)-enabled wireless device, which has to be installed only in the Bus Bar Panel Board of a building. The ‘Minion’ can fit in a palm, and detect the activity of each appliance in a home, office or a factory, without any new wiring or sensors.
It uses the unique noise or energy signature an electronic device produces when switched on, and collects up to four million data points per second. The user gets real-time device-level energy consumption analytics of usage and savings on a mobile application. Since it monitors noise signatures, it can also predict when any appliance needs repair, and alerts the user, saving time and cost. The company says it is GDPR compliant.
According to a World Wide Fund for Nature-India evaluation in 2020, MinionLabs has enabled a lifetime savings of 5.25 million kWh of electricity and reduced 3,712 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. Seventy-three Minions are deployed at 52 buildings across Bengaluru, Chennai and the UAE, with customers including Fortis Healthcare, Cisco Systems, Accenture, MRF India, MSEDCL, Robert Bosch and Ford India. It claims to offer up to 30 percent energy consumption savings per annum.
During Covid-19, as offices and industries – MinionLabs’ target market – shut down, it pivoted to energy management for gated community buildings to survive.
“The technology MinionLabs uses has been around for a long time, but it has productised it successfully, and its self-learning model will accrue more value over time as the Minion gains market share. MinionLabs helps reduce capital expenditure and reduce electricity wastage,” says Mohan Kumaramangalam, working president, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, who led pre-seed funding round from Indian Angel Network in March 2020.
“Although the recognition is an individual one, getting here was certainly not a one-man’s show. I’d like to take this opportunity and thank everyone who has been a part of my journey. A huge thanks to our early backers, my incredible team, investors, friends, and well-wishers who continued to support and pushed me forward. When I first decided to start MinionLabs, I barely knew what entrepreneurship would really mean to me. But there were a couple of things that I was certain of:
1. I wanted to build something great that could help people save their energy costs, reduce their carbon footprint, and save our earth from climate change.
2. I got rejected in more than 400+ job interviews due to my 10th Standard marks being less than 60 percent, but I wanted to prove myself to the world. I also wanted to show my capabilities and to change the method of hiring through skills and not just by marks.
And it all happened in India, where my values truly resonate.
Currently, MinionLabs is in its early stage, but it has been the proudest decision I have ever made. At the age of 26, along with my team members, we are all pushing boundaries every single day – from research & development to experimenting and building something that can truly make an impact in this world.
I can’t wait to see my idea growing, and my vision becoming a reality one day – to turn our buildings autonomous that can take pre-informed decisions through Artificial Intelligence for energy efficiency and productivity,” says Gokul Shrinivas.