Homegrown e-commerce companies in India are slashing prices and delivery times as they battle to serve the country’s burgeoning middle class. Many of these companies are able to do it because of warehouse automation technologies developed by Samay Kohli and his team at the robotics firm GreyOrange.
GreyOrange sells swarms of “Butler” robots, which store products and bring shelves to human workers, and “Sorters,” which automatically scan and sort packages of any size or shape. The company boasts 92 percent of India’s warehouse automation market, a sector that Kohli thinks “can become humongous.”
With offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, the company isn’t content serving India alone. It plans to expand into the Middle East and China this year, and within two years Kohli expects to be exporting warehouse robots to Europe. He hopes to get a first-mover advantage over other robotics startups chasing the same opportunity—one that became even larger after Amazon bought the warehouse automation company Kiva Systems in 2012 and brought its technology in house rather than selling it to Amazon’s e-commerce rivals.
Kohli and his cofounder Akash Gupta launched the company in 2011, after developing, while in college, what they believe to be India’s first humanoid robot. Seeing China’s e-commerce boom, they spotted “an industry ripe for disruption,” says Kohli.