The troubles faced by commuters in India are many and varied. The perilous navigation through potholes; the ditches that need to be sidestepped; the congested spaces where one has to literally jostle for space; and the traffic snarls, too. They all contribute to making a commute a harrowing experience. But if the trio of friends of Santosh Samala (31), Viswanadh Malladi (29) and Madhav Koli (the youngest of the three, at 28) have their way, you might be well on your way to a pleasing experience of a long drive as the sun sets, your windows pulled down and your hair being delightfully caressed by the wind. Feel Good Innovations is the brainchild of the three, and it seeks to take the health-related sting out of commutes.
“We are a startup that foresees a better and improved standard of consumer transportation in India. We intend to create unique automotive enhancers- accessories that enrich our experience of automobiles,” says Viswanadh. Their journey began back in 2015 ,when they introduced FeGo Float, which is a car and bike seat leveraging air suspension device.
The founders' backgrounds
All three belong to the Alma Matter of NIT, Surat. Vishwanadh was a former Program Manager of Amazon and previously used to run an ad agency. Many of Feel Good Innovation products ideas stem from Vishwanadh’s B. Tech in product engineering. Santosh, on the other hand, has previously worked with companies like TCS and ONGC. Madhan had worked with Greenko and CLP, and presently looks after the operations of the startup.
Viswanadh comments, “We had to persuade our families and also leave our secure jobs. We took a big hit on our earnings and had to get things done with minimum resources. But our friends and families had our backs and, over time, we managed to work it out.”
Join the party
They also sought and gathered assistance from noted institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, National Institute of Design. The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises extended support and by October 2015, their prototype was in working condition. “The prototype was a huge hit. We bagged numerous awards, and the government supported us, too. Our next challenge was converting this prototype into a mass product. Forty concept designs, six iterations, more than 10,000km testing and many vendors later, we successfully finished our first product, the FEGO Float,” Viswanadh says.
The pain point
Viswanadh says, “An average Indian spends roughly two hours a day on roads, and we realized that we must do something to make that time more delightful, enjoyable and, most importantly, healthier.”
The recognition of how road infrastructure was a bottleneck in the lives of Indians was easy to come by. This inspired Float, which is an add-in saddle that takes the pain out of the shocks and jerks of bad roads. The float can be added to both two- and four-wheelers.
Float makes use of air cell tech. Inside the products, there are a number of air pockets. The result is that the body does not get distressed when one, say, hits a bumper as the most of the shocks are absorbed and the rest distributed.
The product, which is made of pure leather with breathable mesh, allows healthy air circulation which helps fatigue and prevent cramps, especially during long journeys.
According to Vishwanadh, “The best part about it is that it is a universal seat. It fits all kinds of motorbikes. In the longer run, it helps reduce compression to the spine, further reducing backaches, shoulder pains, stiffness and any other kind of distress that happens due to continuous compression of the spine.”
Funding and effectiveness
The company has been successful in winning a number of grants as well as tasted success in a crowdfunding initiative. They god seed money from NDBI and got their angel round from Hyderabad based HNIs.
“Through aggressive scientific testing, Automotive Test Solutions (Pune) has certified that FEGO Float can reduce shocks and vibrations by up to 46 percent,” says Viswanadh.
The company wants to sell its product from both online and offline retailers. Also in the cards is placing the automotive accessory on lifestyle and health channels, which they opine will help them penetrate the market.
If you want a Float for your bike, you will have to shell out Rs 1,400, while a float for a car will set you back by Rs 2,000. The firm already has orders worth Rs 1,50,000 under its kitty.