Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dream of a 'Silicon Coast' in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: They are fresh from college but not desperate for a job!

Eight engineering graduates from this state, known better for its thriving tourism industry, are looking to give jobs to people in their IT startup that is already being valued at around USD seven million.

This team of graduates, which actually shaped its destiny by setting up 'Torque' to provide IT solutions across verticals, now dreams of turning Kerala into the 'Silicon Coast' of India.

"I come from a middle class family. I don't have a big family tag to my name. The state has given me a good education. And, now I think, I have to pay (it) back," Torque CEO Sanjay Vijayakumar told media on asked about the inspiration behind the venture created a year before they left campus.
Obviously, the team also drew inspiration from Stanford University graduates, who helped the Silicon Valley in the US to become the metonymy for world hightech ventures.

Their brainchild Torque has in a short time grown into a pioneering technology business incubated company being currently valued at $5-7 million based in Technopark here.

"Our initial cash investment was Rs eight lakh raised by eight of us while we were in college some 18 months back," Vijayakumar said.
Besides Vijayakumar, the core group included Kenni Joseph, now Torque's Chief Technology Officer, Sony Joy Chief Operating Officer and Anil K Antony, son of Defence Minister A K Antony.

Torque is looking for a venture capital of Rs 700-800 crore to set up a Mobile Hub Technology centre - "Dawn of Silicon Coast" - in Kerala and met President A P J Abdul Kalam at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, much to the appreciation of India's first citizen.

"It was a memorable experience. We were actually given 20 minutes but the interaction went on for 45 minutes. Dr Kalam said that it was for the first time that a group of students had come with a dream of becoming job-creators rather than job-seekers," Sanjay said.

The 'dream project' aims at promoting a hundred startups by acting as a catalyst to promote student entrepreneurship's in the country.
"Our philosophy is to be innovative, adaptive and effective. There is no dream that could not be materialised through hardwork based on this philosophy," Sanjay added.

Torque's focus, so far, has been on mobile value added services. Some of its products like FastAlert, a multi-modal communication tool integrating SMS, e-mails and voice alerts into an intuitive and user-friendly online interface, have been well received.

"We have had enquirers on this from the US and UK on this," said Sanjay.
Another Torque product is MobShare, positioned as India- specific Youtube and Orkut, which enables interaction through MMS blogging and SMS alert.
BlueMessenger, another product, is a bluetooth enabled kiosk creating distant Blue Zones where users could receive ad promotion, download content, interact and chat with users in Blue Zones around the world.