Bangalore-based Tech.powersquare aims to be a one-stop shop for product development from concept to mass production helping drive innovation into product reality.
The automotive industry has for long been traditionally dominated by legacy players, given the high capital cost, R&D investment and a demanding consumer base. But the charge of the start-up brigade is fast changing the dynamics of the industry for both OEMs and component suppliers.
Typically, in the automotive supply chain, a business relationship takes years to establish and decades to mature. Now some companies are breaking the stereotypes. Tech.powersquare, the B2B arm of Bangalore-based PowerSquare Inc, a wireless charging specialist company, aims to be a complete customer-focused, one-stop-shop for product development from concept to mass production.
Tech.powersquare was incepted with a focus to bring consumer experience from home to in-car environment, which includes wireless power systems and connected experiences. In his first-ever media interaction, Pavan Pudipeddi, CEO, PowerSquare says, "We help companies with their product strategy, product engineering, research and development and original design manufacturing. With our expertise in IoT, power and battery management and product design, we attract a lot of interest from organisations across the globe."
Start-up with a huge manufacturing base
Unlike most start-ups, which typically have a small manufacturing footprint, this company is starting off with a big one. “We have a strategic partnership with Kaynes Technology for our manufacturing requirements. With some of the best manufacturing practices at Kaynes, we have a large footprint of over seven factories across India. We have an exclusive line, each for production and green manufacturing and also fungible infrastructure with the ability to convert assembly line within hours. We have a high-end testing facility, reliability tests such as soak test and burn-in available in-house. Apart from Kaynes, we also have strong support from our ecosystem partners such as Avnet, Arrow, Qualcomm, IDT, NXP and SMC DTDS to name a few," adds Pudipeddi.
Describing the company's core competency, Pudipeddi says, "We create technology-agnostic products and solutions across markets that focus on consumer electronics, smart wearables, industrial and automotive sector. We offer product engineering expertise in translating consumer experience from home to an in-car environment. From a power-based technology perspective, wireless power is one key area that we focus on and we also work on delivering connected experiences through mobile and non-mobile platforms."
The company, which has a core R&D team consisting of around 15 members, is still relatively unknown to many in the automotive industry. However, what’s not known is that Tech.powersquare actively competes with global suppliers and is in fact an innovation partner to a European OEM, which Pudipeddi does not reveal due to an NDA. Pudipeddi says the start-up is working on advanced solutions that have not yet been implemented by any OEM in their vehicles globally. "Tech.powersquare is known across the ecosystem as a company that works with niche technology such as wireless power, which not many suppliers (in India) have in the market. With our strong background and expertise in this category, we attract a lot of interest from OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. These initial discussions open the doors to greater opportunities, enabling us to showcase our capabilities beyond wireless power and also demonstrate our innovations for the market. Passenger cars have become more than just a medium of transport. Today, it is seen as a part of a consumer lifestyle. Extending consumer experience as an in-vehicle feature is our core focus. We have built interfaces using voice and wireless technologies to provide non-mobile experiences to consumer space and the same experience we are bringing into the automotive space. Our main USP is we are able to give the OEMs the same level of technical expertise that the major Tier 1s at a better cost structure and much faster execution cycle, because as a company, we are young, nimble and hungry for opportunities," adds Pudipeddi.
Bringing wireless charging to vehicles
Wireless charging solutions are at present a niche technology, largely seen in the mobile phone and smart-wearables industry. Pudipeddi is confident that with his expertise and background of being a founding member of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), a multinational technology consortium formed to create and promote wide market adoption of the Qi standard used for wireless charging in many products, helps leverage the bringing of advanced solutions to the automotive industry.
During his tenure at Texas Instruments (TI) from 2008-2013, as part of the WPC management team, Pudipeddi says he played an integral role in forging major industry alliances and has extensive experience from TI’s Battery Management and Wireless Power division, where he held multiple managerial roles for over a decade. Before he joined Texas Instruments, he had held engineering and marketing positions roles at National Semiconductor, a $1.4 billion (Rs 9,942 crore) semiconductor company acquired by Texas Instruments in 2011. He was a member of the teams which created the first USB fast charger for mobile phones, the wireless power evaluation module, and the mobile integrated wireless power system.
Responding to how Tech.powersquare's advanced solutions cater to Indian vehicle buyers who are typically price-sensitive, Pudipeddi says, "I feel Indian consumers are more value-driven than price-sensitive. We are not operating at the lower end of the automotive spectrum. The functionality that we are providing is for the premium models that certain a class of audience purchases. Typically, what we see in India are local companies working on joint ventures with multinational OEMs and setting up monster factories that drive costs up because of the larger overheads. The value we bring is being more cost effective than the Tier 1s. Since we can design, engineer and manufacture at the same quality level as the Tier 1s in India, our cost structure can be more palatable to the Indian OEMs."
At present one of the most-sought-after features by OEMs is bringing "consumer-friendly features, and in the forefront is the wireless charging technology. Today, we are in active conversations on various stages with directly with almost every global OEM," signs off Pudipeddi.
(This article was first featured in the November 1, 2019 issue of Autocar Professional)