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This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

June 3, 2012

Garrett

Jugaad is a unique term synonymous with low cost innovation emerging out of rural India but small town India is not far behind. Take the case of Belgaum, my home town for instance, not too long ago a sleepy town known for its foundry cluster & a clutch of good educational institutes. Now the city can boast of churning out Garrett, India’s first  fully integrated RFID based Jewelry tracking solution. However unlike Jugaad this innovation is no mishmash of an existing technology or platform nor does it come cheap (Price range 4 Lacs - 9 Lacs).

Praveen Chikkodi, a local technopreneur  is to be credited with this solution who while visiting one of the security related exhibition, in a momentary spur of the moment was inspired about the idea. He recognized there’s a market opportunity just sitting there, waiting for someone to develop a convenient, affordable solution.  He knew India Jewelers Inc had to make the next big leap from Bar code to RFID but also aware that easier said than done.

Apart from the technical challenges in designing & developing such a solution from scratch there was a primary hurdle to be addressed. And that is tackling the Indian mindset, especially the Jewelers  who  despite various advancements in technology still cling on to age old practices. Even in today’s world, they work under the mentality of a zero-sum game, in which it is bleakly assumed that the existing way is the best way, and if there was a better way it would already have been tried.

However no deterrence is big enough if the credo is  to start thinking about innovation in terms of being able to do things that were hitherto not only not possible, but not even conceivable. Tata’s Nano or Swachh water purifiers or for that matter Godrej & Boyce’s  ChotuKool refrigerator would not have seen the light of the day had they had not challenged such status-quo.

We began with a simple surmise ; that it is not humanly possible to keep track of hundreds & thousand of  expensive Jewelry items through human intervention. And the  starting point was a Business case study  that would explain them the plot while  pinpointing  underlying assumptions. Getting a clear insight into their modus operandi was never an easy task however, for obvious reasons. Thankfully progressive Jewelers like Lengade brothers in Belgaum came to our rescue with various inputs. Suhas Lengade was particularly an interesting character I came across (he reminds me of Goa’s CM Manohar Parrikkar in appearance), a Doctor by qualification he got intensely curious & supportive of the project.

The Product launch  would be a curtain raiser event & from a list of cities that we shortlisted we narrowed it down to Kolhapur. For 2 reasons, one that it is the abode of Shree Mahalakshmi the Goddess of wealth  and two, it is a wholesale trading center for Silver items and is a seriously rich city now  that boasts of a luxury cars population that is unparalleled in India.

Around 25 top Jewelers from Kolhapur city gathered  at a Business Hotel on 19 May when the product was formally launched. The chief guest Mr.Suresh Gaikwad (inset in pic) President of Kolhapur SARAF association & Mr.Manick Jain, Vice President Kolhapur SARAF association addressed the gathering after the event & expressed their appreciation of the new product and its utility value to the Jewelers. The event was covered by local Tarun Bharat (Kolhapur), Pudhari & Lokmat newspapers.

The product will soon be available across India & best in class Jewelers will undoubtedly be using the product. The 'made in Belgaum' may be missed in the fine print but will surely be a proud reminder for us & the city.
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