Hyderabad: Women in technology roles are very few, and when it comes to technology like robotics, which involves machine building, software development, raw material supply chain knowledge and so on, women are a rarity. But all this did not deter Harshitha Puvvala from stepping into this segment and making a mark for herself.
Post her engineering from Vasavi College of Engineering, Harshitha went on to do her Masters from IIM-Bangalore, and like millions of others, she also dabbled in the corporate sector for two years. It was those two years that made her realise that robotics was her calling. And joining hands with Kisshhan PSV, she co-founded H-Bots. Her main vision with this company was to develop a product via robotics that was not just fancy or geeky but served a purpose in society as well.
“With H-Bots, we developed products like Robo Cop, a smart policing robot that can keep a tab on what is happening with 360 degree vision. Recently during Covid-19, we also developed Accord that helps institutes screen people for Covid-19 and disinfect rooms. However, while doing all this we realised that the robotics industry was facing a lot of issues in terms of supply chain, funding, market reach and skilling,” Harshitha said, who has expanded her horizons by starting the All India Robotics Association (AIRA).
AIRA plans to set up a robotics centre in Hyderabad and create a business export path of $350 million by 2022 by providing skilling and up-skilling opportunities for students and employers through the centre.
This first of its kind association was born from her pain of running a robotics company and facing difficulty in getting funding along with issues with raw material and component procurement. Most of the components used in robotics are imported, which according to Harshitha, increases the cost and leads to a high burn rate of cash. She did her groundwork to find out that most of the components were available in Hyderabad from SMEs in industrial areas. She also found that every robotic company was facing these issues and having gone through them herself, she worked on the concept of AIRA for two years.
Harshitha said her father, who was an entrepreneur himself, has been her role model to follow her passion and she wanted to prove to people that entrepreneurship was not dependent on gender. While technology has always fascinated her, but her major focus is to make technology useful to society and she feels that more and more women need come into the technology space to bring about a change in society.