Despite being a million-dollar market, the digitization of manufacturing companies is restricted to sales, procurement, and distribution. Manufacturing units are still largely untouched by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Pinak Duttaray is on a quest to change that with his category-defining deep tech venture, Ripik AI.
Ripik AI is a platform that builds and deploys enterprise AI software to automate the decision-making process for plant engineers and managers. The platform aims to optimize manufacturing plant management.
Pinak is a third-generation manufacturing engineer with a decade-long experience in driving AI transformation for 20+ manufacturing companies to optimize their profitability. As a first career move, he chose to sweat it out in factories instead of opting for a posh office job.
This unusual choice came with its advantage. Pinak gathered the nitty-gritty about industrial operations, where he identified one of their pressing gaps. In the last five years of serving major clients like ITC and Tata Steel, he saw them become flagship stories of using technology to improve profitability. Building an AI practice from 2017 to 2020 also made him realize the scope of using artificial intelligence to optimize some of the decisions taken on plant floors.
When Covid hit, Pinak could take a break from the relentless traveling and bring more focus to what he actually wanted to do. He decided to venture out and pursue his passion for making the lives of the factory operators easier, who work persistently every day to deliver the goods. Quitting his previous firm job, Pinak joined Byjus as the India Head for math and coding verticals while parallelly working on his startup idea. As Ripik started picking pace in January 2022, he began pursuing the startup idea full-time. “By that time, I had two clients, Grasim Industries and DCM Shriram, and more clients kept onboarding steadily”, Pinak elaborates.
Embodying the essence of science, the founder also shared interesting insights about naming the startup, “ Ripik is a scientific word which indicates a state when the brain is in resonance. It is almost like dopamine release, and I believe my brain emits ripik rays whenever I use technology to enable companies to improve their profitability.”
Pinak couldn’t fathom why the manufacturing space has implemented too little digitization on shop floors.
He established Ripik to create and help companies deploy decision science tools for the decision makers of the manufacturing units, i.e., the plant engineers. He elaborates on what the startup does for companies, “Engineers and managers, who are responsible for all the decisions like the raw material rate and flow or throughput rates, run the plant. The precision of these decisions impacts the productivity and sustainability of the plant. We’re building software that optimizes the decision-making of floor managers, thus reducing costs and improving the productivity of factory operations.”
The startup has deployed its cutting-edge products in more than ten marquee business houses in India, including the lead players in the pharmaceutical, power metal, and chemical cement industries. Ripik’s propriety products have shown phenomenal results, which include 5-10% throughput and 1-4% yield improvements, 10-15% energy efficiency, and about 10% reduction in quality loss.
A physical illness that went undiagnosed for almost a decade occupied much of the founder's childhood. This episode of his life made him more resilient with a strong sense of willpower and determination to overcome hurdles. That gets reflected in his attitude towards the apparent setbacks that come his way while building the startup, for instance, parting with a prized employee, non-paying customers, or failing to acquire particular customers.
Despite facing hindrances from the family about diving into entrepreneurship, Pinak went with his gut, passion, and determination and started his founder journey. He talks about another obstacle that may have delayed the start of his entrepreneurial journey, “I had been conversing with a prospect co-founder for almost three years, and when I was up and ready to start up, he requested more time.”
Pinak mentions that shifting from an established professional career to entrepreneurship was also an intense journey. He says, “It is different from starting straight out of college, which comes with its pros and cons.”
The founder affirmed that despite getting offers from other VCs, he chose Accel Atoms for its high reputation within the Indian VC space.
Pinak had multiple discussions about Ripik with Accel investment committee members, Bharat and Shekhar. Since he was doing something different which doesn’t fit the classic VC thesis, he was initially skeptical about his selection into the Atoms program. But all went well with the investment committee of Accel, who also invested in the startup in its seed round. Praising the investment committee members, Pinak says, “It took a while to convince Bharat, but Shekhar got the idea quickly. Shekhar and I are both penetrative by nature. Within half an hour, he asked me ten deep questions, and the good part is that I had the answers.”
Ripik has already established a stronghold in the Indian market. The team is now looking forward to partnering with leading manufacturing companies in the European and US markets to get one step closer to their global vision.