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Kerala Startup’s Make-In-India Alternative to Zoom Wins Rs 1 Crore Prize

Kerala Startup’s Make-In-India Alternative to Zoom Wins Rs 1 Crore Prize

Security has been a core issue with the Zoom app and VConSol has addressed this issue through several measures.

When the pandemic was declared in mid-March, a majority of companies across the world started adopting virtual meetings through various apps. And within months, schools and colleges also shifted to teaching online. As a result of this huge migration to the virtual world, US-based video conferencing app, Zoom, saw a huge leap in the number of users, adding 2.22 million monthly active users in 2020 alone. But the privacy and security policies of the app raised a lot of criticism and concern over the past few months.

To face these circumstances, on 12 April 2020, The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology’s Digital India had rolled out a challenge to develop a world class video-conference solution that was an Indian equivalent of Zoom.

After receiving entries, the jury shortlisted 12 companies who were given Rs 5 lakh each to develop their own prototype, and then the final three were given Rs 20 lakh each to develop their individual platforms.

On Thursday, a newly-launched video conferencing software named VConSol, was declared as the winner and took home a grand prize of Rs 1 crore, with an additional Rs 10 lakh for operations and maintenance.

The software has been developed by Joy Sebastian, 44, a resident of Pathirappally, Alappuzha, under the aegis of his company Techgenstia Software Technologies. Joy was helped by 50 of his colleagues to develop the software.

Joy Sebastian

Currently the software offers three different categories for video conferencing — business, family and education.

All three categories provide the user with the opportunity to connect with existing endpoints including Polycom, Cisco and Lifesize along with Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS and Android. It also allows screen sharing through wireless, Airplay and HDMI connections.

The software allows the integration of softwares like Moodle and other platforms using APIs.

Developing the Award-Winning Software

Joy started his career about 20 years ago with the web audio conferencing company Aavenir. After working there for almost 9 years, he launched his own video conferencing company along with his friend Tony Thomas, and soon took up research and development activities for companies across the world.

While this is the first time Techgentsia has developed in-house software, Joy told Mathrubhumi that he had been working on the product much earlier and that it would have remained anonymous if it weren’t for the government’s challenge.

“We had developed this technology earlier and the product that was presented in the challenge was the latest version which underwent trial and testing,” he said.

Video Facilities Better Than Zoom

The team

Unlike Zoom, Joy claims that the image quality of VConSol will not be affected by the number of participants in the conference call. Over 100 people can attend the video call at a time, while over 300 can watch a conference.

The creators also vouch for the platform’s security.

“Security has been a core issue with the Zoom app and VConSol has addressed this issue through several measures. Each participant will be provided with different passwords and to ensure that only those invited are able to join the video conference. We also have an OTP verification process in place,” Joy said while accepting the prize.

The jury also selected products developed by the other shortlisted applicants and decided to offer a developmental contract with an amount of Rs 25 lakh each, for further developing their product within a period of three months.

All four finalists — Techgentsia, Sarv Webs Pvt Ltd (Jaipur), PeopleLink Unified Communications Pvt Ltd (Hyderabad) and Instrive Softlabs Pvt Ltd (Chennai) — will be supported by the CERT-In and CDAC.

The jury and mentors include NASSCOM Chairman Debjani Ghosh, Indian Angel Network’s Saurabh Srivastava, Sharad Sharma of iSpirit, a software think tank, and experts from IITs.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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