Dayal Nathan is Founder and CEO at Ojas Digital, whose Android app, ERates gives analytics of every consumer’s power consumption at their home, office or factory. In this way, the consumer will know about his/her electricity consumption for the last two years. The app also has other features like being able to tell you how much energy your appliances consume and predict how much electricity you are likely to consume over the next 5 years, among others.
You can download the app here.
Tell us more about eRates. How were you inspired to build this app?
ERates is an Android app, which gives analytics of every consumer’s power consumption at their home, office or factory. The mobile app takes data of each consumer’s power usage from the Electricity Board, in terms of units and money spent, and produces analytics using a simple graph on his/her consumption for the last two years.
The inspiration came around 2 years ago, when there was a lot of hype on energy saving measures both by the corporates and the government. So, the idea flashed on the basis that only if a consumer knows how much energy he is spending on various gadgets, will he find a way to reduce energy.
How can this mobile app help users/consumers/industry/government ?
The data helps consumers understand when they have used more power, and what is their month on month and year on year comparison. Plus for enterprises, we have an option to analyse individual machines or devices to see where we spend more power. However, for homes and small offices this may not be possible as it is too expensive. Hence we have come out with a tool, to understand appliance types used by a consumer and then give back graphical data to show him, which device is using more power.
This may help him to find his own methods (either using less of it or finding alternative methods) to reduce power costs on devices which draws more energy. The app also has a feature that predicts how the power bill could go down by using energy efficient products like LED, BEE 5 star rating appliances. From the industry perspective, data is not only on paper once a month, but always in their hands, to make them think of ‘going green’. The Government, when it spreads awareness, it sends a message to its citizens to stop wasting energy, and therefore industries save energy and at the same time green initiatives can be launched.
What are the challenges and obstacles you faced in building this product ?
Challenges faced were mostly on getting the right team to execute the project and the funds to do the same. You meet many teams, as all call themselves app developers, we then spend time with them, and after the stipulated time, either they show progress which is nowhere near what you discussed, or it’s too expensive (from the premium developers). So the right team, the right design are the huge challenges with respect to the app.
What are the key challenges for entrepreneurs and startups in India/South India/Chennai?
From Chennai’s perspective, it’s more like a second fiddle compared to Bangalore. The ecosystem for tech startups is not so evident here, unlike in Bangalore, although it is slowly picking up. There are just a few events from the startup point of view which is conducted by TiE, but that’s just a once a year event. Other than that you don’t get to see many investors or VCs. So usually, you get to only present your idea to high networth individuals (HNIs) or a few angel investors in the city. However, I see many funds and VCs trying to do some informal events in Chennai to see what’s happening here.
What are the key differentiators of your product compared to its competitors?
The apps mostly in the market are focussing on the bill details of a customer, or the best they do is connect to the payment gateway of the electrical power company. However, ERates does analysis on the historic data of the last 2-3 years for each consumer, to analyse his pattern of power consumption for different seasons. We also give appliance- wise power consumption patterns to each consumer, so he is aware which appliance consumes how much.
Plus the simulation graph between the current power consumption and simulated power consumption, had the consumer used energy efficient appliances, is also available. And the most important thing is that the consumer has analytical data for two connections in a single app, as we have statistics to see that if each house has two connections like ground floor and first floor, it shows an accurate picture.
What is the future roadmap for the product and your startup?
The roadmap is to make the app in vernacular languages like Tamil, Hindi, and Telugu. Once this is done we would like to roll it out in all the states in India, for the consumers to benefit from the app’s analytics.