Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Retail startup turns 'Covid-19 kit' maker, for safer public spaces

Deep-tech startup Veda Labs, earlier focussed on retail customer data, has now developed an AI product to monitor social distancing, masks, temperature and occupancy in large spaces

Naini Thaker
Published: Sep 8, 2020 09:06:30 AM IST
Updated: Sep 8, 2020 12:19:12 PM IST

Retail startup turns 'Covid-19 kit' maker, for safer public spaces(From left) Saurabh Yadav, co-founder and head of AI; Veer Mishra, co-founder and CMO; and Vivek Singh, co-founder and CEO of Veda Labs
Image: Aditi Tailang

The Covid-19 outbreak has brought untold miseries to many businesses, but the healthtech landscape has grown through it, devising ingenious mechanisms and technologies to fight the public health crisis. According to DataLabs by Inc42+’s ‘India’s Healthtech Landscape In A Post-Covid-19 World Report 2020’, the size of the healthtech market in India is likely to touch $21 billion by 2025.

While the lockdowns restricted the availability of raw materials, broke the supply chain, and made labour scarce, a number of healthtech startups augmented or revamped their existing resources to fight Covid-19. Take for instance, Telangana-based Marut Dronetech’s drones that were re-engineered to help with disinfection and surveillance across 19 districts in Telangana, or Bengaluru-based Invento Robotics that launched two robots and also raised ₹2 crore in the process.

Forbes India looks at five such startups in a series. Today, we will look at Veda Labs, which expanded its client base from retail stores and coffee chains to any company that was providing essential services—from warehouses to hospitals
Founded in 2018, deep-tech startup Veda Labs decided to use its existing technology and come up with a ‘Covid Kit’ that, through an AI-based technology, monitors key parameters like social distancing, mask detection, fever screening, space occupancy and sanitisation alerts in real-time.

Earlier, the startup was focussed on the retail segment, capturing consumer data via CCTV cameras. “There are 40 attributes that could be captured, including age and gender through AI and ML technologies. This data can help our clients understand customers,” says Vivek Singh, founder and CEO, Veda Labs.

During the pandemic, Veda expanded its client base from retail stores and coffee chains to any company that was providing essential services—from warehouses to hospitals. “Even some temples have shown interest in installing our technology,” says Singh. As soon as there is a change in any of the parameters, an alert is sent to the client.

The Alchemist Accelerator-backed company provides customised solutions for Covid-19 as well. Singh explains: “We place a monitor with a camera at the entrance of a store. If the person has not worn a mask, the entrance won’t open. The same goes for temperature or if there are more than a certain number of people in the store.”

The startup is charging a one-time installation cost—starting from $2,500—followed by a monthly subscription charge for its Covid-19 kit, depending on client needs.

According to Singh, there is a lot of opportunity in this space since this is the new normal, and eventually all stores will have to open up. “With the fear that people have for public spaces, this is how clients will want to make people feel safer in public spaces,” he says.

While the startup had about eight clients last year, they are already in talks with about 30. “So far we have raised strategic investments from Satin Neo Dimensions and California-based Alchemist Accelerator of about $600,000. We are already in talks with investors for more funding,” says Singh. The startup, which is headquartered in New Delhi and San Francisco, clocked in a turnover of $120,000 last year. “The expected revenue for the coming year is $3 million,” he adds.

Read previous instalments of this series here

(This story appears in the 11 September, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)