Gamifying vocational skills using the Metaverse

Years before Metaverse became a household term, Skillveri, a startup incubated in IIT-Madras’ Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI) in 2012, was using virtual reality hardware and software to plug gaps in vocational skills.

Running simulator courses to teach welding, the startup had its first paying customers by 2013-14. Founded by Sabarinath C Nair and Kannan Lakshminarayan, Skillveri went on to add courses for painters and AC technicians on its simulator by 2018. Today, it serves both industry and education institutions.

The startup has set up multi-simulator labs and built a solar panel technician training model, which is being used by an Indian company that also works in Tanzania. Also on its portfolio is mechanised painting: Nippon Paint and Skillveri provide training in mechanised spray painting, which can nearly halve the time taken for a home painting job.

“With a small VR headset and software installed on their laptop, technicians who were spending close to a year in vocational courses can now learn the skill in two months, ” says Nair.

But it wasn’t all rosy for Skillveri. When Covid struck, the company too had a difficult time, but kept afloat with some quick thinking. By adopting a SaaS (software as a service) model and shipping software licences alone on cloud, the company kept exports revenue going. “We also used the pandemic to optimize our product, make it more immersive and improve its performance,” says Nair.

The startup currently has almost a 50-50 split between industrial and academic (polytechnics, ITIs, etc.,) clients. It is also seeing interest from various home services aggregator startups. Metaverse played a huge role in more people understanding the tech, says Nair. “Something like a VR headset that was prohibitively costly earlier is now much more affordable,” he adds.

In a rarity for a deep tech startup in the space of vocational edtech, the company has been profitable since 2019, and remained break-even during Covid years. “We are doing revenue of around `6 crore currently, and we hope to touch the `10-crore mark by next year,” says Nair. The startup also bought back investors’ shares and currently only counts promoters, their friends/families, and IIT-M’s RTBI, as stakeholders.

Looking ahead, Skillveri is focused on global expansion, especially in North America. “We are setting up an entity in the US. By January, we will have a team based in the US,” says Nair. They are also adding more skill sets to the simulator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *