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Showcasing Smart Innovations

  • The Calamus One Ultrabike can travel up to 80 kilometers on a single charge, has a detachable battery, a weather-proof computer and navigation touchscreen. Photograph courtesy CES.
  • The Calamus team explains the features of the company's Calamus One Ultrabike at CES 2020. Photograph courtesy CES.
  • The Wagr and Calamus teams at the India Tech Park at CES 2020. Photograph courtesy CES.
  • The Bengaluru-based Wagr team showcased its smart location and fitness tracker for pets at CES 2020. Photograph courtesy CES.

At CES 2020, Indian start-ups like Calamus and Wagr presented their unique innovations to a global audience.


While technology trade shows are a staple around the world, one of the most prestigious among them is CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association. Held each January in Las Vegas, this event attracts more than 170,000 attendees annually and has grown over the decades to take over entire convention centers, hotels, restaurants and other public venues citywide. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CES 2021 was held virtually in January, where over 2,000 companies showcased their innovations.  

CES is one of the most important places for tech companies to exhibit their products and meet prospective partners and customers. Major players like Google, Samsung and Amazon showcase products each year in more and more spectacular booths. Google even created its branded roller coaster ride at CES 2019. But many CES attendees say their primary focus is on Eureka Park, the area where hundreds of up-and-coming tech stars from around the world first exhibit their wares. Countries and regions have begun to create their own “pavilions” at Eureka Park, to help their start-ups introduce their brands to the world. 

In January 2020, the Motwani Jadeja Foundation sponsored the India Tech Park at the Eureka Park at CES. Six Indian start-ups with a focus on innovation and sustainability were invited to exhibit at this first-ever India pavilion: Wagr, Calamus, Hyper Lychee, Altifarm, Strom Motors and STEMpedia. 

The Bengaluru-based Wagr showcased its smart location and fitness tracker for pets at the event. The tracker uses Global Positioning System (GPS) and cellular technology to monitor locations and sets activity goals to keep track of the pets’ fitness. “At Wagr, we’re building the world’s first smart pet care platform,” says Wagr co-founder Siddharth Darbha. “We’ve already successfully launched and sold out India’s first pet wearable that monitors the location and fitness of dogs.”  

Mumbai-based Calamus has developed Calamus One Ultrabike—a first-in-class pedal-assisted e-bike that the company’s co-founder Nilesh Bothra describes as the most advanced and safest e-bike in the world. It can travel up to 80 kilometers on a single charge, has a detachable battery, a weather-proof computer and navigation touchscreen. The bike supports Android apps, biometric scanner for locking and unlocking, a scanner for blindspots and handle-grips that vibrate to warn about approaching vehicles. 

Both Darbha and Bothra say they were overwhelmed by the size and scope of CES in 2020. 

“Although we’d read about it and seen the videos, the scale of CES is to be seen to be believed,” says Darbha. “Never before have we had to take Ubers to go from one booth to another at an expo. It was exciting to be part of an industry that seems to be constantly eager to collaborate and to disrupt itself.”  

“I think CES was extremely important,” says Bothra. “We knew it was going to be very, very important for us and, in fact, what happened there was much more than we expected. The foot traffic is just amazing, especially where we were at the Eureka Park. I think that’s the place to be for any start-up.” 

Both entrepreneurs said the interest from the attendees at the convention exceeded their expectations. 

“We [Calamus] had an overwhelming response,” says Bothra. “In fact, there were three of us at the booth and there were times when even three weren’t enough. We saw a great spike in sales during and after CES. So, it was very, very helpful. And, of course, there were future potential leads.” 

Darbha says that his team met with companies and individuals from around the world, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Japan, Brazil, and other countries, who wanted to partner, distribute, invest in and work with Wagr. 

“The experience was crucial in our progress,” he continues, “as it helped us engage directly with a broader consumer tech audience that helped us imagine more clearly what our global expansion will look like.”  

Following their experiences at CES, both entrepreneurs have set their eyes on a successful future. “We’re now working on expanding our platform beyond our award-winning pet wearables and will be launching exciting features soon,” says Darbha. “Beyond this, we will be making our platform available globally, by leveraging some of the relationships we built through CES.”  

Calamus plans to move beyond e-bikes into other types of vehicles. “Our eventual goal is to make India’s first hypercar, which is the epitome of the supercar or the sportscar industry. That’s something that’s not come out of India, ever. We’re going to be the first ones to do that,” says Bothra.  

Bothra also shared his advice for entrepreneurs who are thinking of exhibiting at CES. “Any time an opportunity presents itself, any start-up founder should grab it without thinking too much about it, because you can't possibly know what’s going to happen till you actually make the most of the opportunity,” he says. Bothra adds that specifically, for Indian start-ups who want to enter the global stage, CES is the place to be. “It is, of course, difficult to get an opportunity to present at CES, he says, “but if you do get it, then you have the exposure you need on the global stage.”  

 

Candice Yacono is a magazine and newspaper writer based in southern California.