Welding The Gap
The SmartCEO|January - February 2018

While typical technical training institutes take about a year to upskill workers, Ankur Capital and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation-funded Skillveri has designed training simulators which can help welders pick up the skills within two or three weeks. With its R&D efforts focused on developing more such simulators in related fields, the founders are keen on taping India’s manufacturing sector with the hope that they can skill at least one lakh people for the 90 million jobs expected to be created in the next five years

S Meera

As India gears up for ‘Make in India’, the need to upskill more workers to meet the increased demand has become mandatory. However, leading technical training institutes in India still run on outdated curriculum, and we still don’t have enough skilled workers for key manufacturing jobs.

Realizing this need-gap, in 2009-10, entrepreneur Kannan Lakshminarayanan approached his marketing head, Sabarinath C to find ways to tackle it. Sabarinath, during his research, realized that it was a specialized skill and India was hiring labor from China and Peru to meet its needs during metro construction. Meanwhile, Kannan, had even attempted to develop a prototype training module that was expensive and hence, had to be shelved.

By now, Sabarinath’s enthusiasm for this space grew, and he went on to identify people who were willing to develop a solution at a lower cost. Kannan, who eventually became his business partner, invited Sabarinath to use his existing business to start this new product line to avoid delays caused by formalities associated with registering a company. In 2012, the two were able to demonstrate the prototype to the welding community and assess its viability.

The existing training by ITI takes a year; typically, too long a period for young men who need to support their families. The tutorial from Skillveri, as the duo’s Chennai-based startup is called, can skill a welder for the job in two to three weeks.

Going to Market

The automotive industry was interested in the simulation-based training module, and by January 2014, the company started getting orders from customers who had experienced a trial version. Seeing the effectiveness of the product, customers also requested for a similar module for spray painting. However, Skillveri was bootstrapped at the time, and it needed the sales to strengthen its welding training module and build that market.

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