Hyderabad: Whenever we think about the wearable market space the first thing that comes to our mind is the fitness tracker either on our hand or on our smartphone. However, one Hyderabad-based company is trying its hands or do we say legs in the wearable and fitness market space. Lechal founded by Krispian Lawrence has been in existence since 2011 and started commercial sales of its product since the last one-and-a-half year.
The inception of the idea was to build footwear to help the visually impaired with the navigation, however Lawrence later realised that it could be used by anyone. The footwear works on a simple technology called Haptic which recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.
The user just has to download the Lechal app, set a destination and wear the footwear. The sensors in the insoles, shoes or even the buckle will guide the user through vibrations. “For example if the user needs to take right, then the right shoe will vibrate and so on,” Lawrence told Telangana Today.
Now, while this is a good product for the visually impaired, the company soon realised that this could be used by anyone and everyone as most of the tracking devices now either need users to be glued to their phone or listen to the directions. With Lechal, however, it aids the user through vibration. Thus began the prototyping and testing of the product and after three years of intense research, the company was able to launch its flagship product in India in 2016.
“We have shipped our product to over 70 countries and have sold more than 25,000 units of our footwear in the last one year itself. We are confident the same sales run going ahead as well,” the true blue Hyderabadi informs.
Other than just providing directions, the footwear also tracks the number of steps taken and keeps a track of the user’s fitness. And it can also be used by the family to keep track of their loved ones. Other than its own website, the product is available on Amazon and in Croma stores.
While startups in India and in Hyderabad are mostly about software and apps, Lechal is one of the few product-based startups in the city. What sets it apart from many startups is the ability to manufacture everything in-house. “Starting from our hardware to software to product design to product engineering and manufacturing everything is done in-house. And we have shipped all the products from here itself,” Lawrence informs.
One of the most interesting factor about the manufacturing is that 70 per cent of its workforce in the unit are differently abled. It has a total of 120 people employees. While the major raw materials are sourced from 12 different countries, according to the specifications mentioned by the company, yet all the innovations happen here in Hyderabad.
Expansion and Investment
Going ahead, the startup – that has diversified into other segments – plans to enter into partnerships with reputed brands for not only its footwear product but also the other products. Without specifying details about the future products, Lawrence informed that they are in talks with companies in travel and hospitality space to provide them with connected devices. “In addition, we are also looking at partnering with footwear brands to co-brand with them to sell our product,” he said.
The company has so far invested $3.5 million out of which about $2.5 million was bootstrapped. Going ahead, it plans to raise more funds as it seeks more partnerships and branding.