Asutosh Katyal is the Founder & CEO of Captech Technologies, a platform that built India’s First Construction Labour Marketplace “eFORCE”. He is a vibrant, innovative, and a highly disciplined professional with a strong entrepreneurial network in India- with a rich experience in constructing high and super-high rise buildings. He is a computer scientist from the University Of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and is currently involved in creating an innovative technological solution to bridge the gap between migrant labor contractors and the various construction companies/Developers in India. He built a major of his team during the challenging time of the pandemic. Today we got a chance to interview him, Let’s know more about him & his entrepreneurial journey.
We hope this can inspire you to become a successful person too! It is worth listening to a successful entrepreneur or to people who share their success stories? We can significantly learn many things from the experiences of them, by listening to their story.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with him:
Q1) Tell us a little bit about your start-up and your journey, please;
Hi, I have always been passionate about solving problems and starting a business. I did my engineering and specialization in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, US.
After completing my education I returned from the US to join Capacit’e Infra projects limited to get “on ground” experience of how high rises and super high-rise buildings (80 floors and above) are coordinated and built from scratch. To understand the ecosystem at a deeper level I was posted on many construction sites and even coordinated several major projects in the Mumbai MMR region as a project coordinator.
The “on-ground” experience was hectic and long as most construction sites work Monday through Sunday (7 days a week) from 8 am to 8 pm. After working on-ground for a good 3 years it became very clear to me that there was a dire need for technology in our Indian construction industry. A piece of technology that could really revolutionize how the industry has been working for so many decades! The construction industry globally for some reason has become the ‘Neglected child of technology’.
There is a need for platforms and technology that can transform the construction industry in a similar way as Henry Ford’s Assembly line revolutionized manufacturing forever. That’s how Captech Technologies and its eFORCE platform was envisioned, executed, and brought to fruition.
Q2) How did the idea for your business/startup come about?
From my ground experience, it was pretty clear that as the fastest-growing major economy in the world, India needs a lot more organized workforce to meet its needs and that was also something I was extremely passionate about while laying the foundation for Captech Technologies.
By observing, managing, and completely handling the execution of several infrastructure sites as a project coordinator, day in, and day out. It became evident to me that the disorganization in India’s workforce had been the Achilles heel, stopping Indian Infrastructure from growing as fast as it really can!
Q3) What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur? What challenges did you face while starting your company during the COVID-19 phase?
I have always seen entrepreneurship as a noble profession. It’s not easy to identify a real-life problem and find a solution simple enough for practical use and then finding a way to monetize the value created in the process, all while scouting for your first early adopters. All four stages are fairly complex and involve a mixture of both Science and the arts. The complexity and thrill of solving meaningful problems in a way that truly creates monetizable value for society are very addictive and that’s why I chose to be an entrepreneur.
Starting an entire organization from scratch is never easy, be that before the pandemic, during or after.
In our case, if you see, Captech Technologies has grown very very fast even during the pandemic. From ideation to building the team to create a high-quality enterprise-level B2B platform, to actually creating and exhaustively testing the platform and to further getting our platform live on all the sites of our first client- all of this has happened in less than a year, with the bulk of the year in Covid-times.
Creating an organization and building your core team definitely polishes your skillset as a leader at any given juncture of life, however, I am proud of the extra-grind I had to go through to form the entire core team during the pandemic and create high-quality Software as a service with state of the art cybersecurity and privacy for the client’s data, that too all before the internal deadline I set out for myself. The entire experience has definitely refined me as a leader and an executor and made me a lot more resilient, patient, and obsessed with the end to end value created for our clients.
The added challenge of funding, starting, and fundraising during covid times when the entire world was reeling in chaos and disorganization was an experience that very few entrepreneurs get to experience, and am glad to be one of the few who did get this chance, as it really helped me build agile, resilient and practical systems to govern the organization- the benefits of which our investors, clients and we ourselves will be reaped for a long time to come!
Q4) Describe your business entity in the field of infrastructure, and let us know about your expert opinion on the Indian infra market’s current situation? How has COVID-19 affected your market space? What’s the future in terms of technology for the Indian Construction industry going forward?
Captech technologies is a group company of the construction major Capacite InfraProjects limited. At Captech Technologies, we are investing in finding new ways in which technology can transform the existing construction practices in India and also create new job opportunities. Technology has transformed the world and it has changed the way the construction industry operates today. Advancement of technology has enabled the industry to further personalize the customer experience at every touchpoint.
The pandemic has caused havoc disruption in the supply chain, however, the industry is slowly but steadily recovering from the current situation faced due to COVID-19 and countrywide lockdown. I am sure that the speed of the recovery will increase greatly in the next 2-3 months. The time is right to invest in tech-solutions especially in growing major economies like India where internet data and access to smartphones to the country’s common population is increasing so rapidly!
Going forward, if our construction industry invests the next couple of months into technology and a more robust, resilient modern supply chain ecosystem then the growth projections in the long-term could be phenomenal.
Q5) How is “eFORCE” going to revolutionize the industry? How does this technology work?
Captech technologies’ eFORCE platform will revolutionize the industry in more than one ways, it is a multi-lingual end to end mobile platform through which general contractors and developers are matched to the “right-fit” list of subcontractors and labor contractors that can finish their projects quickly. The subcontractors and labor contractors will be matched according to their expertise, experience, and bandwidth- this will help the general contractor and developers solve their workmen issue fast while virtually digitizing their entire “Labour resource department”.
The subcontractors on the other hand will get real-time business leads all through a multi-lingual simple mobile app. eFORCE platform goes one step further and helps increase payment transparency between the Developer/ General Contractor and the subcontractor so that with this additional boost of trust and transparency- sourcing and procuring the necessary resources to complete projects even before time can be quickly found and applied.
Q6) Idea behind launching this platform? How is it going to help the laborers, contractors, real estate players?
What inspired me to launch this platform is my determination and passion to transform the construction industry, with the help of technology and provide a one-stop solution platform to the laborers, contractors, and real estate players.
Post completion of my course in Computer engineering from the US, I returned back to India to dedicate my time and learning on the construction sites of Capacite Infra. During this time I witnessed the massive engineering challenges faced by the sector. After spending a couple of years understanding how the construction ecosystem in India worked, I realized that there is a need to bridge the gap between the Developers/General contractors with the various subcontractors and specialized vendors that will boost our entire supply chain.
Q7) What traction have you received till now? How much workforce can your platform deliver after 2 months of launch?
eFORCE is an integrated technology platform for sub-contractor & workmen deployment.
Currently, eFORCE is live on more than 30 projects pan India, and Project in-charges across the country have onboarded several specialized and unspecialized labor contractors who have in turn deployed thousands of skilled laborers on these sites. The registered labor contractors on our platform, which is growing each day, can provide more than 2,00,000 workmen (cumulatively and pan India). We are registering over 300 KYC-verified labor contractors in a week, which now takes the count of the total KYC- verified Labour contractors to 2000 and counting. We have helped our clients on-board and retain several thousand skilled laborers in the last 16 days– this further validates our vision of organizing the nation’s disorganized labor force thereby increasing long-term productivity for the entire Indian Infrastructure and manufacturing industries.
Q8) How technology can revolutionize the construction industry? Do you see more technology adoption post covid-19?
In the last 20 years or so if you see global trends, sectors like aerospace and manufacturing have seen tremendous gains in productivity, owing to revolutionizing technology. However, if you see the trend of technology adoption for construction, comparatively it has a lot more to do to catch up with the other major sectors. The silver lining of this pandemic for our industry is that it has given us enough time and motivation to rethink, rebuild and modernize our supply chain management so that we can grow faster than we ever thought was possible. With Digital platforms linking all the stakeholders, better payment transparencies, and faster completion of projects the skilled and unskilled workforce of India will have multiple job opportunities, opportunities that could offer much better pays and with a lot more consistency!
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