Since my childhood telecommunication technologies have fascinated me. I always wanted to be an engineer, specifically a Telecommunications engineer.
My parents wanted me to be a doctor, and I did my best to ensure that I score passing marks in biology in 12th, after which, I was allocated a seat in Civil engineering and was quite depressed till I got a seat into E&C. After B.E, I came to IITM to do my M.Tech in Digitial Communications.

shiroor3After M.Tech, I worked with many companies around the world, exclusively in telecommunications domain. I have worked with large telcos, leading equipment manufacturers and huge consulting firms.

After about 18 years in telecom domain, I shifted to Dairy Industry. For someone like me who had been so particular about being in telecommunications, it was quite an unconventional shift. It seemed like a big mistake on my part to many of my friends, my family and colleagues. However, the transition from Telecommunications to Cows was not totally a disconnected shift. It was all about applying technology in an area where the application was not so obvious.

My co-founders and myself started Stellapps Technologies in April 2011, with the hope and aim of “Applying Technology for Improving Lives” in relevant sectors of India. Machine-to-Machine communications (aka M2M, aka Internet of Things) was the latest buzzword in the telecom industry. We wanted to use M2M as the theme and build solutions around it. We started off by considering several industrial segments, in which we could build solutions. At around the same time, there were requirements from few start-up Dairy companies to build some remote monitoring solutions for small scale commercial dairy farms. As we started working on it, we realized two things. First was the fact that there was very little or no technology support available to a small scale dairy farmer to run his farm efficiently and profitably. When we looked around elsewhere in the world, we found that lot of research and engineering had been applied to dairy industry, but little of it was suitable in its current shape for the typical Indian dairy farmer. We started working on building solutions for the small and medium dairy farmers. Our friends, families, and mentors were quite understanding and supportive. Around that time we met Prof. Jhunjhunwala, who encouraged us to reach-out to RTBI cell at IIT-M for incubation and as expected, the RTBI provided us the  required support.

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On the lawns of Brahmaputra hostel

Slowly, we started understanding the dairy domain and how technology can be applied to it. Soon the realization grew and made us understand that technology support is just one piece of the puzzle. Lot of things needed to fall in place, such as, finance, infrastructure, animal health-care, insurance, milk marketing, feed management, and lot more. We started building engineering solutions and the support structure for the non-engineering parts as well.

Today, we at Stellapps are rapidly growing. We are operating in many parts of India, and also in some places outside India. We are humbled by the encouragement we have received from everybody. We are glad that we are able to work in our area of passion, while applying the same for making a difference in an area like dairy industry which means so much to the world we live in. We hope to keep exploring and finding new ways of applying technology to improve lives.

The author is Ravishankar Shiroor (MT/96/EE), Director, Stellapps Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore. Meet him at his lecture on “Technology and Innovation in Agri & Dairy Sectors in Emerging Markets – An Entrepreneur’s View” on October 31st  at 5 pm in IC&SR Auditorium.