Rohit Gupta, founder of Crux Labs is a Restorative Innovation advocate. His debut product Crux LX is a palm-sized smart device that is able to unify communication across voicemails, landlines and mobile devices anywhere enabling seamless communication amongst teams and SMBs. Imagine how many tools this palm sized device can replace.
By now, we all know that Restorative Innovation is a framework & an innovation model that refers to new strategies, ventures, products, concepts that are designed to restore health, humanity & the environment in addition to creating & capturing a promise of value for the innovator and consumer.
We sat down with Rohit and we are in awe of his product’s impact and how they use open-source software and hardware to craft a green-product that is efficient, innovative and very cost effective. In his own words, here are 8 reasons why Rohit and his product Crux LX is a sustainable and Restorative Innovation champion:
- Small is Big. A lot of people are in awe of what a small device like Crux LX can do by replacing their old-bulky EPABX system. We don’t need grand packaging to imply Crux LX’s impact. Following a micro-server design, it works with minimal input materials and efficiency in mind.
- Simple & Compact Design. When we think of telephony and telecommunication, we imagine telephones, wires, complex technology and bulky power-guzzling devices. But, like how Steve Jobs liked the inside of the Apple device sleek and organized, I wanted Crux LX to exude simplicity on the outside, to ensure the product reflects what we have done on the inside by breaking down the complex telecom technology. I worked with the manufacturer to zero in on a case design that was sleek, compact and small, yet good at dissipating heat in an always-on product.
- Analog versus Digital. There are good reasons to move from analog to digital, whether it is in analogical terms of office automation with digitalization instead of keeping data locked in paper records that is un-actionable, or in telecom space, in terms of a digital SIP (Session Initiation Protocol, the tech behind VoIP) telephone line instead of an analog PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) line. A digital line is more secure, provides actionable data, and enabled access to a solution that facilitates seamless collaboration and improves workforce productivity. It also enhances work-life balance of SMB employees, since with extension mobility, employees can work from anywhere and be connected and productive even when not in office.
- Market and Adoption. By taking an open systems approach to development, Crux LX is being cost-competitively manufactured in Singapore with help from organizations like Avnet, that supplies components globally(including Singapore) at competitive prices. Educating the market takes time but very worth it once my customers realize the value Crux LX gives to them. Singtel, the largest telco in Singapore, has successfully tested and certified Crux LX. Today, we have close to 20 clients with about 30 unit installations under our belt. We are currently establishing the distribution channels in the region and hopefully increase our production capacity that will drive down our cost.
- Frugal & Open Innovation. There are two schools of thoughts when we are creating something new that involves creativity and innovation. Either it could follow a proprietary systems approach (what I call as exclusive innovation) or it could take an open systems approach (what I call as inclusive innovation). Intellectual Property can be created using either systems. Just like Google Android platform is an example of an open system and lager IBM and Microsoft’s recent acquisition of GitHub is a step to further that philosophy. We have developed Crux LX on similar principles using open systems and tried to keep customizations and deviations from standard design to the lowest. As a result, Crux LX today is the cheapest, simplest and feature-rich telephony solution for small businesses in the market, which does not have any recurring monthly fees.
- Green Innovation. Building sustainable solutions is not optional anymore. Sustainability has to be a requirement in every project plan and a key consideration in every business process. This is the only way we can restore balance on our planet. Each Crux LX unit requires 5V/2A of power source and consumes about 500mah of power per hour. The unit can also be powered using a mobile battery bank — a 5000mah bank can keep the unit running for about 8 hrs. We are also exploring an idea given to us recently, if we could accept trade-ins of old EPABX systems against new Crux LX units. This is a Restorative Innovation move as most companies like us don’t know how to handle disposal of the old devices. Sustainability is so well ingrained in us that even our website is hosted on GreenGeeks, which is a web-hosting company that not only uses efficient servers and green sources of power, but also gives back 300% more power than what it consumes.
- Purpose. The reason why I started out with Crux Labs is simple. I want to make technology consumable for SMB so that they stay at par with large enterprises and draw benefits from latest and greatest of technology solutions. For this, we need to break-down complex technology and develop products that are simple and affordable. The social entrepreneur in me also wants to see how technology can be used to improve quality of life and connectivity in rural areas. My previous article on Poverty and rural entrepreneurship provides a deeper view into the need to bridge the gap. I am keen to partner with government or non-profit organizations focused on rural development to sponsor a pilot using Crux LX to implement communication within village clusters.
- Mentorship. Learning and sharing go hand in hand. Outside of Crux Labs, I am a mentor to several startups in accelerator programs in Singapore, namely PlatformE and Startupbootcamp. I specialize in technology and its commercialization and give back by advising startups and sharing my experiences, so that the journey of other entrepreneurs is smoother.
Support for Crux LX is on the rise from SMBs. Aside from the successful Kickstarter funding, two of Rohit’s clients have committed investments to the company. It is a concrete validation for a start-up, when its clients not only buy their product but are able to share the vision of the business opportunity, and trust its capability to execute and deliver, and commit to investing in it.