“We started out with just one patent. TechLaunch was the catalyst that turned it into a business.”
Eeshan Kulkarni is a third year student enrolled in the NUS PHD-MBA double degree programme, who is honing his engineering and business skills at the same time. Before commencing his studies at NUS, Eeshan graduated from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Engineering and Commerce.
In spite of his already packed schedule, Eeshan was excited to sign up for TechLaunch, a module offered by the NUS Division of Engineering and Technology Management. Thanks to his experiences during the module, he has developed a start-up from scratch, based on technology developed at NUS. The experiential-learning format of the module means that Eeshan has had the chance to rub shoulders with real industry experts such as established venture capitalists, and is working with them to develop a real start-up.
It was during TechLunch that he first discovered Visual Light Communication, or Li-Fi, a form of networked wireless communication utilising Light Emitting Diodes (LED) to transmit information. Li-Fi pushes new boundaries in data transmission by modulating LEDs at a very high frequency in order to send over data to devices such as mobile phones.
Fascinated, his team decided to develop their start-up based on Li-Fi.
As Li-Fi supports indoor positioning, Eeshan and his team identified museums, airports, libraries and shopping malls as locations where Li-Fi would have an advantage over WiFi and GPS. The team encountered a few setbacks, having previously acted on the assumptions that they would be able to find a novel application for Li-Fi, first in airplanes and hospitals, and then in mines. Weeks of work went down the drain when they discovered alternatives had already been developed in those areas.
They finally decided upon promoting the use of Li-Fi in shopping malls, and began making contact with shopping mall managements to offer their proposal. To their delight, Li-Fi has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm. However, it was those early mistakes that proffered some of the most valuable lessons Eeshan learnt throughout the course of TechLaunch, and which demonstrated the utmost importance of validating assumptions before acting on them.
Now that TechLaunch has come to an end, Eeshan is a full-fledged entrepreneur and co-owns his very own Li-Fi based start-up. Recently, his company was registered as an official business entity, and today he continues to work towards commercialising Li-Fi.
Eeshan and his team have come a long way from the early days. What began as a simple module selection has transformed his life. Eeshan has gone from being a graduate student to a co-owner of a very promising company. Today, Eeshan is no longer just “that tech guy.” As business lead of his very own start-up, he is on a mission to bridge the gap between technical knowledge and business savvy.
Recent spin-off Kiranum Labs specializes in the development of visible light communication, or “Li-Fi”, systems. Imagine taking an LED bulb, the kind you’d use to light up a room, and using it to transmit data at 10x the speed of Wi-Fi. That’s what Kiranum does. The company, founded by Prof Andrew Bettiol, Dr Shuvan Prashant and PhD/MBA student Eeshan Kulkarni, are now looking at applications in the indoor enterprise space. Their tech has received a great deal of interest from shopping malls, airports and mining companies, and Kiranum is now working hard to develop a commercial Li-Fi prototype. Want to find out more? Get in touch with the friendly team at firstname.lastname@example.org.