Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Newndra Innovations has developed a range of exoskeletons (assistive devices) for farmers and workers to double their work efficiency while reducing pain, fatigue, and injury. Ganesh Ram Jangir shares more about his startup journey here.
Use of the Newndra Exoskeleton in the automobile industry
Ganesh Ram Jangir had the opportunity to experience firsthand the consumer need for the product he and his colleagues at Newndra Innovations developed. It was during a visit home to family, at a village farm, when Jangir went to help them with the work in the fields – requiring a lot of bending down movements – that Jangir started feeling back pain. “I asked other people – don’t you feel back pain when you work by bending down? And they all said yes,” Jangir recalls. The farm workers had simply accepted the pain they experienced as a necessity of working on a farm, with doctor-prescribed painkillers the best available solution. Jangir, however, felt that there must be a way to help reduce the stress on farmers’ bodies.
“I was not aware of what is the meaning of a startup, etc, but I had a problem and I wanted to solve it,” he says.
After graduating with a degree in computer science, Jangir spent three years working as a software engineer before applying for support for his idea, which he received from both Indian and U.S.-based organizations. His first team member, Dr. Aalok Pandya, was one of his professors from university in the physics department, and they eventually brought Dr. Anil Kumar Jain onto the team as well.
Ganesh with the JaipurBelt™ team
Developing the product – JaipurBelt™ - a lightweight exoskeleton that can reduce loads up to 50%, making farmers up to twice as productive – was no easy feat. “It took us more than two hundred iterations over the span of six years to come up with it,” Jangir says. Not only did they need to develop a solution that could solve the main problem for farmers, they had to make sure that it was comfortable and easy to use, fit a number of different body types, did not put undue stress on other body parts, and of course, was affordable for the low-income farmers they were trying to help. For this, Jangir realized that what felt like one of Newndra Innovation’s biggest challenges was actually a blessing in disguise.
“Our biggest challenge really does feel like a lack of resources: for the small things we have to struggle a lot. In the U.S. you might find everything available, but here you have to struggle to find the right resources and the right people to build and develop the product. Since this product requires medical knowledge, Indian knowledge, product development knowledge, production resources – of course we can find them, but we can’t afford them. We can’t pay them what they expect – so we have to work in a very frugal way. And that is how we were able to make the most efficient, lightweight, and cost-effective exoskeleton in the world.”
A farmer using a Newndra Exoskeleton in the field
Newndra Innovations has already begun selling the product at a price of $100, with over 300 people and many multinational companies currently using the product, and the company has nine patents granted across the globe. Although not an insignificant cost for farmers, the benefit is clear, especially when farmers are able to see peers who are unable to continue working due to back injuries and debilitating pain, affecting their livelihoods for the rest of their lives. Moreover, given that the product is one-size-fits-all, it is possible to share within families and communities. Newndra Innovations has developed a range of exoskeletons like JaipurBelt, IndoKnee, and ArmMax, supplying exoskeletons to companies in in automotives, logistics, construction, and defense.
Ganesh with his range of exoskeletons
Participating in the Manush Labs accelerator was a great experience for Jangir and his team – especially having the opportunity to learn from peers and access experts from all the different fields that the company’s product touches.
“It was a great learning experience in every sense. From the fundamentals of business to having mentors help us with problems that we usually tended to ignore – the comprehensive curriculum helped us a lot,” Jangir says.
The company is currently looking to raise funding to expand within India, and is also exploring opportunities for partnerships with international companies where other musculoskeletal injuries are common and could be helped using Newndra Innovation’s products. Jangir knows that growth will not necessarily come easily, but is prepared for the journey ahead. “As an entrepreneur in this type of field, you will experience many challenges. You will struggle with development and functional prototyping. There are so many issues – so persistence and patience are key to work on this kind of new product.”
Farmers using the Newndra Exoskeleton