Kalpnik uses AR & VR to help people 'go' to any place of worship

Apul Nahata, former chief technology officer at Reliance Industries-sponsored venture fund GenNext Ventures, had the eureka moment when his parents wanted to go to the Birla Mandir near Kalyan, but could not do so because climbing the stairs was an issue.
Nahata’s friends John Kuruvilla, a Reliance Jio and Deccan Airlines veteran, and Ashwani Garg, former director of APACSmart home and building at Intel, had similar stories to narrate. It got the veterans thinking. Could they possibly use technology to solve this unique need?
The thrill of starting up after being in leadership roles was too good to let go and they got together to build ‘Kalpnik’, a virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) product that could help people ‘go’ to any place of worship. All the user had to do was strap on the headgear.
“When we started, people did not understand. When we went to temples, people were like, ‘Boss, what are you doing?’ We had nothing to show to them. We wanted to build a product company from India that was globally a first of its kind,” said Kuruvilla. “In 2016, VR/AR was largely entrenched in the gaming sector, but we felt that this technology can be applied in a unique way to solve devotees’ problems.”
The first break came when they met a few former IITians at ISKCON Mumbai, who believed that such a product might possibly be good for their devotees around the globe. One thing led to another and they soon developed an app ‘VR DEVOTEE’, on both Android and iOS.
“After 18 months of extensive ground research in India and the US, we went live on January 25 with live streaming of The Flower Festival at ISKCON. In two days, with no marketing from our end we got close to 2,000 downloads and streamed to close to 500 devotees concurrently, out of which 80% were from India and 10% from the US and 10% from the Middle East,” said Kuruvilla.
Kalpnik has tied up with around six temples now and is in the process of getting 12 more on board. The biggest challenge was distinguishing themselves from other religious content that was available and finding answers to various customer pain points. The team began investing in high-end cameras and creating the right rigs to shoot with multiple cameras.
“We received feedback like, the headset is heavy, can you change it? The lenses are not giving a holistic view, can you look at bigger lenses? We worked with a product company to deliver the experience,” said Kuruvilla.
Kalpnik, which has raised $500,000 from a clutch of angel investors at Venture Catalysts, works on a freemium model, wherein people can watch part of the video for free and need to subscribe for the rest. The company plans to get around 100 places of worship on its platform by the year-end and is also in the process of setting up ‘Darshan Experience Zone’ in residential neighbourhoods. These zones can be shops in neighbourhoods, wherein people can walk in to have the VR experience.
“The use of cutting-edge virtual reality and augmented reality technologies for the benefit of NRIs, millennials who are stretched for time, senior and other citizens, who wish to participate actively in either daily or significant religious rituals and ceremonies, without having to physically visit various sites, will prove a major boon not only within India, but across the world. The credentials of the team are impressive and complimentary,” said Ashwini Kakkar, executive vice chairman of Mercury Travels, who has invested in the company.

Trending News

Amazon India reportedly closing in on Flipkart

Paytm seeks RBI license for P2P lending

IBM launches low-cost blockchain platform starter plan for startups

Regional OTT players shine despite foray of Netflix & Amazon

Chargebee secures Rs 120 crore in Series C funding

Flipkart's fashion vertical ahead of both Myntra, Jabong

Facebook breach: Privacy advocates in India seek stronger data laws

Amazon has warrants in BPO servicing rivals Flipkart & Paytm

Zappfresh raises Rs 20 Cr funding led by Dabur's Amit Burman

Alibaba to invest $2Bn more in Lazada, replaces CEO

OYO acquires Chennai's Novascotia Boutique Homes

Amazon cuts seller fees in a bid to push certain categories

Facebook Lite to launch in developed countries, including United States

Reliance Jio adjusted gross revenue up 21.3% at Rs 5,300 crore in Q3

Angels offer to dematerialise unlisted shares to solve row

Healofy raises $1M seed funding from Omidyar Network

Agritech startups Sabziwala and LivLush merge their business under new entity Kamatan

Myntra brings EMI down to just Rs 50 in sales push

HDFC Bank blocks all its credit and debits cards to buy or trade cryptocurrencies

India to lead in data science job creation: Biocon Chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Avail Finance lands $17.2M from Matrix Partners & Ola, Freecharge and Flipkart founders

Understanding local nuance is our key competitive edge: Indian Internet firms

SpaceX is launching its broadband satellites into orbit this weekend

Unilever threatens to cut back online ads over 'toxic' content

Google hires former Samsung Mobile CTO to coordinate Internet of Things projects

Go-Jek plans India foray in second half of 2018

Pivoting away from Cube brought us to the right route: PayU's Jitendra Gupta

Ola parent to invest Rs 400 crore to boost Foodpanda India logistics & tech

Alibaba plans tighter integration of Paytm Mall with BigBasket & XpressBees

MakeMyTrip posts wider loss in Q3, may revisit OYO strategy

Google fined Rs 135.86 crore by CCI for 'search bias'

RBI suggests tax sops, self-regulation to build fintech space

Swiggy hires new CEO for its Access Service, gets new CFO

Logistics company Delhivery registers 44% increase in FY17 revenues

WeWork to acquire one of the oldest social networks, Meetup

Toyota, Suzuki to produce electric vehicles for India market by 2020

Qualcomm rejects Broadcom's $103 billion offer

Fashion e-tailer Voonik asks staff to forgo 3 months' salary

EasyRewardz gets $2 million Series-A funding

'Anemic' iPhone 8 demand drags Apple shares lower

Lending platform Lenden Club gets Rs 3.5cr in Equity Investment

On festive sales, Flipkart says 65% clients from Tier-II cities