Padmakumar Nair, CEO & Founder, Ennoventure, talks about the journey of Ennoventure and how the company is aiming to flush out counterfeit products across multiple sectors over different product lines.
Please introduce Ennoventure to our readers.
Ennoventure Inc, based out of the United States, UAE and India, is a unique SaaS platform for authenticating and engaging brands across diverse industries like FMCG, Pharmaceuticals, Agro-Chemicals and Luxury Goods.
It has developed a solution to combat problems faced from counterfeiting related challenges in various industries. It conceptualized Enncrypto as a solution that could verify the authenticity of products in a non-disruptive manner without changing the client company’s existing package design and printing process. Enncrypto employs AI, cryptography, and blockchain to add an invisible cryptographic signature to the packaging that counterfeiters would not be able to access.
Currently, Ennoventure is focusing its efforts on companies across diverse industries like FMCG, Pharmaceuticals, Agro-Chemicals, Luxury Goods. Ennoventure is a member of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) with a mission to strengthen its commitment and technical expertise to combat product counterfeiting and piracy, further delivering relevant solutions across geographies.
Ennoventure has also been recently awarded the most secure anti-counterfeit technology 2022 at the EMEA security conference and Exhibition held in Saudi Arabia.
What inspired you to initiate this journey?
I found out about the problem while at MIT; one kid dies every 5 minutes in Africa due to the consumption of fake anti-malarial drugs, and that was the trigger for developing the solution. Early in 2017, when Shalini Nair was running her own startup, I called her to set the ball rolling towards the foundation of Ennoventure with the aim of combating counterfeiting. By August 2018, Shalini applied for two patents in the US; one for the verification of the authenticity of the products using smartphones by scanning labels which contain our invisible cryptographic code and the other pertaining to design and how the cryptographic code for a particular design is optimized. While one patent was granted in November 2018, the other one was in February 2019.
How did you manage to raise capital for this venture?
In April 2018, we raised USD 0.5 million in a seed fund round followed by a series A round of USD 5 million in 2021 from Fenice Investment Group, USA. We had a bridge round of USD 0.5 million between the two rounds.
What were the initial obstacles you encountered and how did you overcome them?
The initial years were very crucial for us, in terms of raising funds from investors and scaling as an organization. It took us three years of hard work and dedication to raise our Series A round, led by Fenice Investment Group. The pandemic was an added disadvantage in our journey towards fund raise, wherein industries across the globe were affected and we were no exception either.
Another challenge that we have been facing is the lack of awareness about innovative anti-counterfeit technology in the industry and the need to adopt the same. It is hence extremely essential for us to educate our clients about the need for anti-counterfeit solutions and their potential in protecting and empowering brands.
The other challenge that we faced during the elementary years was the lack of experienced professionals with ample knowledge about our patented solution. This led us to hiring freshers and providing them with training from scratch.
How would you differentiate your offerings from those available in the market?
Enncrypto was conceived as a software solution that could check the validity of product packaging without disrupting the company’s package design and production process. Its encryption technology combines AI, cryptography, and blockchain to create an invisible encrypted code that counterfeiters won’t be able to read. On several fronts, multiple machine learning models are used to detect questionable signals. A Deep Neural Network, for example, can swiftly detect fake product lookalikes, while blockchain stores the product’s e-pedigree from the manufacturer to the consumer.
With cutting-edge technology solutions, Ennoventure aims at creating technology-powered experiences that enable a better future for all life, everyday. Its new anti-counterfeit solutions have unique features as follows:
• No CAPEX required – there’s no need for the product manufacturers to change anything in the production process
• No design change required for product packaging
• No special ink needs to be applied on packaging
• Invisible cryptographic signature which cannot be copied. Hence, it’s better than QR codes that can be copied easily
• Embedded throughout the package. Hence, its better than hologram stickers that can fall off the product
• Works on any printing material, including the most difficult one, blisters
• Easy to use at consumers’ end, i.e., mobile-scannable
• Geotagging enabled- to track the fakes and parallel imports
• Can be provided on different platforms for consumers to scan the product- web, app, social media
• Can work as a brand-engagement tool to serve several purposes along with anti-counterfeit features
Where do you see yourself in the next 2-3 years?
We have raised $5 million in a series A round led by Fenice Investment Group. We aim to utilize this capital towards expanding our team and go-to-market strategy across key markets globally. As part of our growth strategy, we are currently focusing our efforts on pharmaceutical companies in India as it is a key market for the export of generic drugs. We have further plans to expand into the European and US markets.
What advice do you have to offer to other budding entrepreneurs like you?
The industry has immense scope to adopt technologies that can solve the menace of counterfeit products in my opinion. However, most companies are playing the wait and watch game and are stalling till it possibly becomes a rule of law through government legislation. I believe there is potential for 10 or more industry players like us, working towards solving the issue of counterfeiting while ensuring brand reputation and authenticity.
Globally, anti-counterfeit solutions are expected to reach $120 billion by 2025. In order to achieve this, companies across varied sectors must recognize and adopt such technologies. This will further increase the demand for innovative solution providers, further opening up a big opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to contribute towards addressing this global challenge.