CD MEDIA (CDM): Can you tell us about your background?
Rajat Khare (Founder of Boundary Holdings): I come from the world of computer science and I specialize in data analytics and AI.
I’m from IIT Delhi, which in the US is very popular because all the tech firm CEOs are from IIT Delhi. In many cases, they’re literally from the same university. And when I was at that university, I started a business around training in AI and in related fields such as robotics.
I then went on to build a business around AI and robotics spanning across multiple fields, like the financial industry, stock markets, safety, industrial automation, and so on. And further on, I started Boundary Holding, a deep-tech investment firm. The vision behind Boundary Holding was to help innovative young entrepreneurs who were very tech-driven, much like I was.
It took me a long time to get into the commercial arena via technology driven solutions and help to create a business and hence I now like to catch entrepreneurs pretty early. I invest capital with them and mentor them, helping them with my connections across the globe to enable them to build a great business.
I think we’ve put forward around 30-35 investments in different fields to-date, which all have a connection between AI and robotics and, frankly, that’s what we do – We now invest globally.
CD MEDIA (CDM): Could you tell our readers a little bit about your portfolio of companies at present and the diversity of your business investments…?
Rajat Khare: So let me divide it the way I see it – there is one set of companies which dabble in MedTech and MedTech companies; and there’s one that builds robotic wheelchairs, which can climb stairs (basically supporting the disabled community), that is very unique; it has built-in AI, so it protects them from accidents and other things.
Similarly, another model is robotic back-support provision-oriented, which uses AI to help workers who are in ‘heavy industries’ – It supports their back and prevents injury. And it’s also used as a sports rehab solution if somebody has a back injury.
Another company creates equipment that can be used for spine surgery, and it has an AI-driven app that helps medical practitioners who are performing the surgery to have a more accurate way of fixing the screws. It ultimately improves the success rate of the surgery.
Another set of companies utilize AI for predictive analytics. There’s Konux, which is US headquartered. It helps in predictive analytics for railway maintenance; the maintenance of railway switches and many other things which are critical for the railways.
Another enterprise which does the same for oil and gas pipelines.
One company performs predictive analytics of border intrusion, providing a trap camera with a special AI which can help the camera detect if there is a rogue element crossing the border. And then there’s another set of companies that use AI for drones.
We oversee companies in clean tech, recycling Multi-Layered Plastics. And the specialty of this device is that it has a built-in AI system that separates Multi-Layered Plastics from the rest of their trash, which is very unique. Then there’s another company that specializes in water drones, which use AI and autonomous controls to clean marinas, rivers, lakes automatically of plastic and other waste, oil spills, and so on.
So, yeah – there are many companies!
CD MEDIA (CDM): So, what is a ‘Deep Tech’ investment firm, and do you think this is a model that’s going to be on the rise in contemporary business?
Rajat Khare: Most of the VC-stage investments or family office investments have been in the internet space, which did very well; Amazon is doing fantastically well.
But suddenly you see that there are so many problems in the world, geo-commercial, geopolitical problems, and technology turns out to be pretty much the only solution in most cases, if not all.
Deep Tech innovation has to happen; it has to be funded, and it has to be commercialized.
This Deep Tech model [which we spearhead] works very well for us. You have to be a student of technology, always learning. Coming into this from the financial space would not work.
CD MEDIA (CDM): Where is your business amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)?
Rajat Khare: So the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is our main theme and focus, is sparking a very important change that is happening in society.
Essentially, you see, today’s world offers a combination of robotics, AI, and connectivity that never existed before. So breakthroughs of 4IR are going to revolutionize, obviously, industries everywhere.
It’s not just going to be in one particular area but advance whole industrial societies, and the change is happening as we speak.
Today in an Amazon warehouse, you would see drones working autonomously, let’s say, moving stuff. The data behind their actions resides on a centralized platform. You would have AI-based drones doing public safety maneuvers, for example.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here and while the US and Europe are the two main places where this change is happening, it’s also taking place in China. The investments we oversee, born of 4IR, are global, and most of these companies obviously appeal to a big customer base or aspire to have a big customer base in China, Europe and the US.
CD MEDIA (CDM): What advice would you give tomorrow’s entrepreneurs who are looking to establish themselves in AI or connect on strategies in Deep Tech?
Rajat Khare: Yes, I think there are multiple aspects to consider here. I think the first, very important aspect, is to do business with AI, but do so ethically.
You don’t want to build AI technology which could be counterproductive to society, whether it’s in the form of security threats, or it’s in the form of causing unemployment, and so on. Your objective of AI should be to help society move forward, so ethics are very important.
And the second critical thing is, while you spend a lot of time building AI tech, the entrepreneurs in this space are very technology oriented. You should be this way also, but you must take care of the commercial aspect, and the use cases of your technology in the real world. So, if you are more practical, you will not become just a tech lover, but you will have your product used in the market and get paid for it. And that’s a very big thing, which is frankly, absent in 50% of AI entrepreneurs I meet today. They’re very tech-focused, but they forget that they have to build a business; it has to be commercial, and it should serve a customer.
And then the third one is, while funding and raising money is very important in the way businesses are built today, it’s also very important to raise money to the extent you need it and use it very wisely. Because when you have too much of something, many times these firms, instead of focusing on creating a business, they create a luxury expenditure powerhouse company, which destroys the value and the confidence of investors in the long run.