Hyderabad: Praveen Kumar Gorakavi, a chemical engineer, loves science. He dabbled with it for than 16 years to evolve new products and technologies that have a use in varied industries. His client list includes seven Fortune 500 companies.
Now, he morphed from being a freelancer technology developer to an entrepreneur to set up his own enterprise- The Phi Factory, which is now working on a filler product for paper industry and a bioplastic, which Gorakavi says will change the plastic bags industry.
He got selected for the prestigious Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list (2019) for his contributions to various fields of science and engineering.
“I realised that the SMEs are handicapped by lack of access to innovations. India is a price sensitive market and every SME is competing with each other. The entire domain is falling low in terms of revenues and productivity. We want to build new technologies and give them to Indian SMEs to produce products which have global market ,” he says on why he chose to set up The Phi Factory.
Among others, The Phi Factory will launch G-FP (Gorakavi Filling Particles), for which the company has filed patents for its production and utilisation as well. “We have innovated a new way of dosing the filler product in the paper industry. By using this, the paper-makers turn the paper lighter by 21 per cent and at a 9% reduced cost. This indicates less consumption of trees and also savings in cargo charges,” he says. Now, it is hopeful of Rs 30 crore revenues within a year and it a manifold increase once more stakeholders in the paper and packaging industry start using its product.
It is also coming up with bio-plastic materials. “Plastic consumption is aggressive and many States are slowly imposing restrictions on its use. But when strict regulations are put in place, plastic manufacturers will choke as they have no alternative for plastic bags. From that point, we are working on a bioplastic. This will be soluble in water and will be useful for storing rice, dal and other products. However, it cannot be used to store water and other liquids,” he says.
FMCG is a focus for bioplastics, which will be launched next month. In the test runs, it has already received an order for 250 tonne per month. “We are encouraging SME plastic recycling industries to produce recyclable materials using our technology. While bioplastics are available in market, they are high priced mainly due to imports. We aim to cut down imports and lower the costs. Our technology will be usable with existing machines with no modification,” says Gorakavi adding that the company is also working on bio-aviation gas and will look to have its own production unit in Hyderabad soon.
He taps into industry defined problems (IDPs) to come up with solutions. “For instance, we designed a cap that will dispense 2 ml to 20 ml liquid,” he says about the design which is now used by big FMCG company for its floor cleaner.
In another instance, he developed a pen that could produce as many as 256 colours. This same concept could be used for nail paint, face foundation and other cosmetics. “The technology was sold to a French cosmetic major and the company later used the same principal to evolve a 256-colour face foundation pack,” says Gorakavi, who set up a command-centre at his Necklace Pride residence to interact with his lab-partners.
He also worked on fragrance encapsulation technology for sanitary pads, baby diapers and detergent powder . “We have seen self-adhesive sheets were used only one- side. We realised that it can be used two sides by adding adhesive on both sides thus saving 36 per cent paper,” he says. “We sold this to a company but the latter never took it up any further. There is no point in developing a technology and not using to its full potential,” he says.
He also developed a holographic ink that makes segregation of packaging materials easy and enhances the productivity more than 2.5 times. “A big player purchased the technology from a third party. It is now being used in 172 countries,” he says.
The other product from Gorakavi’s stable includes wrinkle free composite suit fabric that finds a use apparels segment. Then there is ‘dosa’ premix formulation in a can. The other technologies include a water purification device, orthopaedic catheter for spinal restoration and liquid jetting mechanism for electric tooth brush among others.
Currently, his team size is eight and has drawn up plans to touch 50 by end of December this year.