Making the impact tangible – Akshat Kulkarni

Akshat is co-founder and CEO of OrxaGrid – an analytics platform for optimising energy which helps companies to optimise assets, reduce energy losses, and reduce CO2 emissions. Through IoT sensors, AI and industry-specific knowledge they deliver value to a range of stakeholders across the sector.

As part of the Urbantech 2019 Cohort, Akshat worked with EWII to develop a new way to use machine learning and sensors to inspect and assess their high voltage cables underground.

Urbantech: What did you gain most from the Urbantech Program?

Akshat: Ultimately getting a very clear set of requirements and needs from our users was extremely valuable. As a result, we were able to take the technology that we’d built and put it into practical use and then implement that into our system moving forward. It also really broadened our vision of where we could implement our product. We started off working mostly in the developing markets but then realised that the benefit of having a reliable and sustainable supply of electricity extended to cities like Copenhagen as well. Through the program, we realised we’re working on a bigger question of how to ensure people have access to electricity which is sustainable and affordable at the same time.

Urbantech: What’s the secret sauce for partnerships between startups and corporates?

Akshat: A longer-term view is fundamental for big companies who are working with startups. The technology that we build is based on a long-term vision and not just on meeting short-term immediate needs. It’s was crucial for us to have a partner who shared that mindset. In terms of the mindset, it’s important that big companies are proactively offering renewable solutions to consumers and not just waiting for the consumers to ask for it. The burden shouldn’t be on the consumer – change should come from the top.

Urbantech: If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?

Akshat: Next time we’d probably take an even more systematic approach. Last year we were very focused on learning because we were still quite young. Now we have a much better idea of how to get to the implementation much quicker. Coming out of the program, we also realised the value of a numbers-based case study that could show what we’d achieved and where we were heading next. Making the impact tangible is really important.


Connect with Akshat on LinkedIn
Interview by Freya Williams