Nothing is more fascinating than seeing an idea evolve. Take Grey Orange, for instance, which was co-founded by Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta in 2011. Today, with its robotics systems for automation at distribution and fulfillment centres, the company is set to bring about a sea-change in the logistics industry in India. Grey Orange designs, manufactures and deploys robotics systems for automation at distribution and fulfilment centres.
At present, it has two product lines, namely the Butler and the Sorter, which have been sold to, and deployed for, over 40 clients. A robotic system, the Sorter it scans and sorts parcels of all types and sizes quickly and accurately for distribution or fulfillment at an average speed of 1,500-6,000 per hour. The Butler allows you to stand still and focus on order picking and inventory putting while it does the running around and carry the shelves and items to the person. A bi-directionally scalable material handling system for goods-to-man, the Butler dramatically reduces the time it takes to get order to homes and inventory stores.
For both Kohli and Gupta, the love for all things robotic started when they were studying mechanical engineering at BITS, Pilani, and built humanoid robots for competitions. Together, they also created AcYut, India’s first humanoid, which won many robotic competitions in prestigious universities such as Standford and Berkeley.
How it began
“After graduating, we were looking to do something that could give us the same amount of adrenaline and thrill,” says Gupta. In 2011, Grey Orange started as an education and training company for robotics. “But we realised it was not a model we could scale and became aware that our core strength lay in technology as opposed to building an army of teachers,” says Kohli. Six months later then, they launched a product firm building medical devices and camera tracking systems.
The thrill was still lacking, though. A year and two pivots later, the company got a clear direction – to service the ecommerce industry. Today, Grey Orange’s automation systems in ecommerce and logistics companies handle up to 70,000 shipments a day, and have significantly reduced the dependence on manual labour by automating a number of tasks.
Backed by Tiger Ventures and Blume Ventures, Grey Orange’s clients include giants such as Flipkart, Amazon, Jabong, and logistics companies such as Kerry Logistics, Aramex, DTDC, Delivery and Gojavas. The company got seed funding from Blume Ventures and Bistpark in Angels 2012, and made its first installation of a sortation system in March, 2013. This year, Gupta and Kohli also made it to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list as well.
“We are a fast-growing team of 300-plus people across offices in Gurgaon, Singapore and Hong Kong, of which more than 200 are in R&D and engineering, covering diverse disciplines ranging from software, industrial design, mechanical engineering and electronics, to embedded systems,” says Kohli. Gupta calls their Gurgaon office “super cool”, where the meeting rooms are named after Real Steel movie’s robots such as Atom, Zeus, Noisyboy, Ambush and others. “The passion is to disrupt and try out new stuff and that is what makes us different,” says Gupta, which visible pride.
Grey Orange also has a 70,000 sq ft state-of-the-art facility in Gurgaon, where its products are mass produced. To deliver the best quality products to its customers on time, there is also a dedicated vendor base backed by trained production staff.
From strength to strength
“We recruit a diverse engineering workforce and hire a person with right attitude and technical skills, in that order,” says Kohli, adding how they are always on the lookout for talent. And while 70 per cent of the company’s recruitment happens from tier-one colleges, it is only a matter of coincidence. “The candidate’s projects and passion for working in our company matters more than pedigree,” clarified Gupta.
The road ahead: introducing more products in the warehouse automation space. Grey Orange is also eyeing international expansion across key geographies. The company also plans to build a robust product pipeline following the footsteps of their previous successful products. The duo’s journey so far deserves more than a mechanical applause, doesn’t it?