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While Hug started off with building consumer-focused devices, it is now focusing on B2B, building AI, IoT-based products for enterprises.

T-Hub turns 3 Meet Hug Innovations developer of a gesture-controlled smartwatch
Atom Startups Friday, November 30, 2018 - 09:00

As part of T-Hub’s third anniversary, TNM will be featuring five startups that have been with T-Hub, India's largest incubator for startups, since its inception and that have grown into success stories.

The December 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape left a massive impact on Raj Neravati, who was then working in Dallas in the US. While several people took to the streets or social media to lend their support to the horrifying incident, Raj decided to go one step further. He wanted to bring about a change using technology to make women feel safe.

That is how Raj’s entrepreneurial journey began. What started off with the thought of launching a safety app saw various pivots, and after deep research and development, it finally took shape as HUG, a gesture-control technology and device startup in October 2016. The startup is known for developing the world's first gesture-controlled smartwatch. This patent-pending technology comes with Contextual Intelligence that instinctively understands the intent of your actions, be it to turn up the music or dim the lights using just hand gestures. And in keeping with Raj's initial motivation to promote women's safety, it can also send out SOS signals using hand gestures. These devices are manufactured by Foxconn.

The T-Hub startup then went on to launch a smart kids tracker that it developed for Eurokids called Eurokids Mybuddy Smart Locator. Last year, it launched a sports fitness tracker called Hug Elan, a multi-sport fitness tracker that has intelligent sports detection to recognise the sport or activity that the wearer is doing.

The fitness band is not only water resistant, but also comes with features such as all-day activity recording, heart rate tracking, breathing guide, auto sleep tracking, sedentary alert, call alert, notification alert, music control, weather alert and remote image capturing.

Currently, Hug has four consumer products: Hug Smartwatch, Hug Elan (Fitness Tracker), Hug Fit (Entry level fitness tracker), My Buddy (kids tracker in partnership with Eurokids).

With these four products, Hug has managed to garner roughly 30,000 customers and has seen revenues of roughly Rs 5 crore in the last two years.

Its innovative technology also won Raj and his startup several accolades from across the globe. In March 2017, Hug innovations was awarded the best startup in India in the Global Mobile Challenge where 1,500 startups from across the world participated. It also made it to the top 3 in the APAC region.

Read: T-Hub turns 3: Meet StuMagz, which created India’s first digital campus ecosystem

It made it to Nasscom’s list of the 10 hottest startups to watch out for in 2017. It was recognised as one of the top 20 emerging Indian companies by Mayor of London in May 2018. It also made it to top 20 of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India programme, which ranks the fastest growing technology companies in India based on their percentage revenue growth over the last three financial years.

While its innovation got global attention, Raj says that it was T-Hub that gave it a platform to ideate, pitch to investors and build a brand. “For me, the biggest value add from T-Hub was that they helped us build a brand and got us industry recognition, which eventually also helped us win several awards,” Raj says.

However, Hug has now shifted its focus from the B2C segment to B2B, focusing on building devices for enterprises.

“The promise was to address women safety and that’s how our first product was launched. But I realised that the consumer market is challenging when you don't have a lot of money to spend on marketing. So four months ago, we decided to move to the enterprise side,” Raj says.

Hug is now focusing on large enterprises and is building products for them, with a focus on artificial intelligence and Internet of Things. It will not be rolling out any more consumer products with a complete focus on the B2B segment. It has lined up three large enterprises in the Agri-tech, healthcare, and industrial IoT space, and will be building products for them.

“The advantage of the B2B segment is that we are now building product for businesses and their customers and so customer acquisition is now the responsibility of the enterprise we are working with,” Raj adds.

Raj is also confident of revenue growth in this segment and is now targeting a revenue of $2 million in the next 12 months from the three enterprises it has on board. Going forward, it will continue to add more clients and hopes to reach a break-even this fiscal.

“Our gesture-control tech, which is patent pending will still be there. Product revenue will continue with enterprise focus and AI and IoT will be future capabilities that we will go deeper into,” Raj adds. 

Also read: T-Hub turns 3: Hyd’s Banyan Nation uses data and technology to manage waste flow

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