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Rohit Kochar, Founder, Executive Chairman & CEO at Bert Labs

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Rohit Kochar: I always wanted to build an institution from India. Over my professional journey with GE and American Express, I realised that there is lot of entrepreneurial ability within me in terms of problem solving, client focus, leadership, setting up a clear vision and followed by strategy in execution. Clarity of thought was very strong from the beginning, and I wanted to leverage on this by starting a small company and then building it up.

My entrepreneurial idea germinated from my personal experience with my father, later on with my mother. My father went through lot of serious ailments. Even though he recovered well, there was fear of these chronically ill diseases, affecting with any lacunae in medicine, food regime, or workout regime which could culminate in fatality. So that helped me in focussing, gave me a purpose and idea, to have sense-connect-act. Vital parameters are sensed, detected by hospitals, nurses, and doctors in real-time and analysed, processed and timely actions are taken. And that is how I started Dice Automations, a company in stealth mode, by end of 2015.

I began thinking on how I can scale this up to other industries, that is where the focus on energy efficiency improvement started. And then the space was evaluated, and different aspects of energy generation, energy distribution and energy consumption were mapped. For the last five years, Bert Labs has been helping clients achieve their sustainability goals, capital efficiency goals and bring-in the direct impact on profitability.

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by Bert Labs?

Rohit Kochar: Bert Labs was incorporated on 19 January 2017. Bert Labs is making things connected for consumers, businesses, and governments. Bert Labs is innovation at the inter-section of Artificial Intelligence -Internet of Things solving complex industrial problems, energy efficiency improvement and production efficiency improvement for large corporations across industry verticals, to help them achieve their year-on-year Sustainability, Productivity, Capital Efficiency goals. Bert Labs helps customers leverage their software and hardware to generate customized applications, delivered within the nerves of where they are located.

Until March 2020, Bert Labs was building and deploying Bert Platform Solution to help Enterprises and Governments achieve their sustainability goals in commercial buildings. Due to pandemic for next two years, commercial buildings was not the obvious focus. Bert Labs built and deployed Bert Platform Solutions to help Enterprises and Governments achieve their sustainability goals and manufacturing goals for Pharma Formulation clean rooms, Pharma API clean rooms, Specialty Chemicals, Chemical Soda Ash, Chemical Caustic Soda, Cement Pyro, Automobile four-wheeler paint shop, Automobile two-wheeler paint shop.

Bert Labs’ objective is to become Business Transformation Partner of choice for industries such as –

  • Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing, Drug Discovery & Development

  • Cement

  • Chemical & Textiles

  • FMCG

  • Pulp & Paper

  • Automobile

  • White Goods

  • Commercial buildings (Corporate Offices, R&D Centres, Hotels, Airports, Smart Cities,

  • Hospitals, Malls, etc)

Some of the Business Transformation use cases in above industries are:

  • Sustainability, Energy Efficiency Improvement,

  • Decarbonization, Zero Carbon and Carbon Neutrality

  • Thermal and Air Quality Improvement

  • Production Efficiency & Quality improvement for Manufacturing Operations & Process Excellence and World’s Best in Class Products

  • Safety Improvement

  • Supply Chain Planning &Inbound/Outbound Logistics Efficiency Improvement

Great Companies: What makes Bert Labs different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Rohit Kochar: Bert Labs’ business strategy works on Start Small, Expand Rapidly Flex Muscle. We start with Phase I in different industry verticals and different domains, making Bert Platform Solution ready to use with client appreciation, trust & support. Then we grow in both directions, within the same client for their other plants & in other client ecosystems in the same industry. This model offers Bert Labs the opportunity to expand rapidly, and the scope to offer the most competitive ROI & value enhancing proposition to the client.

Bert Platform is a complete ecosystem starting from Sense to Connect to Insight to Act, which very few companies globally are currently offering to their clients. With such robust & innovative capability, Bert Labs is offering the most cost-effective solution with attractive payback period, for their applications, which in turn is giving them collective savings of INR 10,000 crores - 25,000 crores over next 5 years, having impact on their Profitability of 50-400 basis points, and direct positive proportionate impact on EPS and Shareholder Value.

At Bert Labs, we have made a small, yet significant beginning to building a mindset for Research & Innovation, to solve complex problems for their clients more impact fully than anybody in the global marketplace. Among several strategic ongoing initiatives & drives, the Company challenges all its scientists, developers & designers with 10 patent filings every year.

Bert Labs is the place where the best of global talent come and express themselves, where complete ownership is entrusted upon them based on their raw/latent talent, identified by the Founder/CEO and the leadership at a very early stage, in Bert stringent recruitment process. Then, Bert Labs supports them completely to be a great success, and in the process allows them to learn from their failures.

Bert Labs is a place which is led with the highest level of transparency & full disclosures, with its internal & external stakeholders. Bert Labs’ Founder CEO lives by the principle of, “when in doubt, disclose”, and by the principle that, for any leader, it’s not possible for him/her to be nice every time, however, it’s important to be fair every time.

Great Companies: What were the struggles and challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Rohit Kochar: I strongly believe there a few elements which can be improved in the ecosystem to give a shot in the arm of deep tech early-stage companies.

At Bert Labs we have done well for ourselves in terms of idea generation, building these ideas into product services and then servicing the B2B clients or the end consumers. But around it, building successful enterprises, building institutions, which become world leaders in different sectors, domains, areas is not what we have been able to do so far. At Bert Labs, the philosophy when it comes to investment is that we will rely on our own revenues and profits. Our investment would be as and when we need money to support, investment in innovation, investment in global expansion, and investment in people. These are the 3 areas we look for money from outside, largely from ultra HNIs and family offices, who bring in the strong credentials which we need for Bert Labs. Also, bring in the right intent as an investor where along with the returns, they also want to be part of a journey where we are building something which would last forever. With this temperament, we are building this company which is built to last. From that perspective, yes, we have brought in investment but with very diligently.

At Bert Labs, we pursue a problem led approach rather than product led approach. Initially we started off in the energy space, where energy consumption was the low hanging fruit for us. In energy consumption, commercial buildings was the choice, compared to a manufacturing plant. We started with looking at commercial buildings, and visited airports, Delhi airport, Mumbai airport, Kochi airport, Bangalore airport, we started to visit hotels, hospitals, Taj hotels, Apollo, Fortis, office complexes. One thing which we determined was that the number one energy guzzler anywhere in the world, is centralised air conditioning system, what is called HVAC system (heating ventilation air conditioning system). The second step was realising gaps in the solutions of existing solution providers.

Then there are product related challenges. Hardware is a major challenge, in terms of the ecosystem and in terms of finding the right manufacturers. We outsource the manufacturing of our products which are microcontroller, microprocessor led printed circuit boards. We design them, we write our own software on these PCBs in terms of fabrication and assembly. We outsource manufacturing parts through engagements and have institutionalised our relationship with these companies.

Then there is the integration between hardware and software, how do we make it seamless from the perspective of upstream data flow and downstream data flow because that is what is the fundamental requirement for our solution to work and deliver. The other side of innovation is you do not get enough reference points, so you end up thinking original. you end up thinking indigenously and a lot of Bert ingenuity came into existence for what we ended up building.

Doing original work in research and innovation, because all engineers are doing is relying on the existing libraries, technologies to solve an application. You can certainly do that, at Bert Labs also we do that. But along with this, there are lot of areas which require indigenous thinking. To write an original piece of code, which is solving a problem which does not have a reference point and for that, there comes a lot of training which Bert Labs has been challenged with. Training to begin with the mindset where you are thinking original, that requires very diligent work on behalf of the company.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Bert Labs?

Rohit Kochar: At Bert Labs, our vision for the future is driven by innovation, sustainability, and impactful contributions across various industries. As we look five years down the line, our roadmap is shaped by several key pillars that will guide our growth and influence:

Innovative Solutions: We envision ourselves at the forefront of cutting-edge technological

advancements. Over the next five years, we aim to continuously develop and deploy innovative solutions that address complex challenges across industries such as automotive, manufacturing, construction, energy, and more. Our commitment to research and development will remain unwavering, ensuring that our technologies remain ahead of the curve. Global Presence: Building on our current success, we aspire to expand our global footprint. By establishing strategic partnerships and collaborations, we intend to reach new markets and regions, bringing our transformative solutions to a broader audience. This expansion will not only amplify our impact but also contribute to creating a more sustainable and interconnected world.

Diverse Industry Influence: In the coming years, we plan to further solidify our presence in multiple sectors, becoming a go-to brand for innovative solutions. Our efforts in, manufacturing optimization, energy efficiency, and more will shape industries and set new standards. By diversifying our portfolio, we can effectively tackle a wider range of challenges.

Talent and Culture: Our growth hinges on our exceptional team. As we move forward, we continue to attract top-tier talent, foster a culture of collaboration, and provide an environment that encourages creativity and growth. Investing in our people will remain a cornerstone of our strategy, ensuring that our team's passion and expertise continue to drive our success.

Sustainability Champion: Environmental consciousness is central to our identity. In the next five years, we aspire to make even greater strides in sustainability, developing solutions that contribute to a greener future. Our commitment to reducing carbon footprints, enhancing energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable practices for our clients is paramount for us, and will continue to be a driving force.

Customer-Centric Approach: Our success is deeply intertwined with the success of our customers. Over the next five years, we will refine our customer engagement strategies, aiming to provide personalized solutions that address specific needs. By forging strong, long-lasting relationships, we'll continue to co-create value and drive mutual growth.

Thought Leadership: Bert Labs aims to be a thought leader in the industries we serve. Through thought-provoking content, participation in conferences, and active engagement with industry experts, we will continue to shape conversations and drive discussions around technological innovation, sustainability, and the future of various sectors.

In essence, five years down the line, Bert Labs will be a globally recognized name synonymous with groundbreaking innovation and sustainable solutions across industries. Our influence will be felt not only in the technological advancements we bring forth but also in the positive impact we make on the world around us. We are committed to shaping a better future, and our journey toward that future is only just beginning.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Rohit Kochar: Starting a company and building a company is the same as building any other company out there. There is nothing like startup, companies are in their first year of operation, or tenth year or 100th year. The fundamentals of building a company remains the same. We must be very clear on the problem which we are solving, the market we are solving the problem for, problem must be looked at as understood by the end customer. Develop a perfect market product fit and focus on revenues and profits from day one.

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