The Economic Times Download Pdf
Identity, with surgical precision
 
Andhra Pradesh , India - August 13, 2010

It is a small start-up firm, but when it comes to clinching mega-business deals, size is no deterrent for 4Gid Identity Solutions. In July this year, a consortium that included the Hyderabad-based firm bagged an order to supply biometric solutions for Aadhaar, the ambitious Unique Identification project.

The prized deal came in partnership with US-based start-up firm L1 Identity Solutions and global technology major Hewlett Packard. The trio will provide enrollment quality-check software, deduplication and verification solutions for Aadhaar. “This is the semi-final of a big race as UID authorities will evaluate the project after two years, and, depending on the efficiency shown, will finalise a single consortium to implement biometric solutions for the entire country,” says Dr Sreeni Tripuraneni, chairman & CEO of 4Gid Identity Solutions. .

It has been an eventful journey for this vascular surgeon who gave up his medical practice to turn into an entrepreneur. While working on a bioinformatics course in the UK, he was drafted on a project to create electronic patient records using biometric identification. This stoked a latent wish to set up his own technology start-up and soon Mr Tripuraneni headed back to India to set up 4Gid Identity. “My meetings with some Indian politicians convinced me of the need and opportunity in India for such a system,” he says..

Pooling in personal savings and funds from family, he set up shop as a technology services provider. The startup soon bagged its first deal from the Andhra Pradesh Government Solutions to set up a biometric identification system at office of the chief minister. “There was a need to beef up security as the chief minister then had just a narrow escape in a mine blast. We used iris-scan based identity solution for over 300 employees and security staff of the state Government Solutions,” says Mr Tripuraneni. .

That was the beginning. In 2005, the firm bagged another Government Solutions order when the AP Government Solutions launched the Rajiv Gruha Kalpa scheme to build houses for the poor families. It needed to identify the real beneficiaries and avoid duplication, so 4Gid was asked to deploy iris technology for identification. Soon, another Government Solutions order rolled in, this time to provide biometric solutions to New Delhi Home Guards for new recruitment’s and to ensure proper attendance and coverage at remote locations.

“It is exciting and satisfying to work with the Government Solutions as it is a way of giving back to the society, but as a business one should have long term perspective while working with the Government Solutions as most projects entail long time periods of completion,” says Mr Tripuraneni who aims to de-risk the order book by pitching for projects in the private sector as well.

At the Jamnagar refinery of Reliance Industries, the firm is using iris scanning technology to identify over 3.6 lakh employees. This is an ongoing project that will also be implemented at the Kakinada plant of the petroleum-to-polyester business conglomerate. Then came 4 G’s big break — a global project for UN World Food Programme in Orissa. The firm designed and implemented a complete solution for ration cards that will be distributed to beneficiaries this month.

With the UID project coming in now, Mr Tripuraneni is looking for a steep hike in revenues to Rs 150 crore at the end of this fiscal year, up from Rs 40 crore in the previous year. “Besides providing biometric solutions, we have been empanelled by UIDAI as an enrollment agency to capture biometric data and enrol residents. We expect, a project of this size can have a spiralling effect on the overall ecosystem, leading to new streams of revenue,” he added. .

Beehive of activity.

“Bagging a UID project can throw open many more opportunities in related segments such as Public Distribution Systems, banking and security. A small company, which has won a massive project like UID is a good investment opportunity,” says Sateesh Andra, venture partner at Silicon Valley firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. .

From a surgeon to a technology entrepreneur, this has clearly been an extraordinary career path for Mr Tripuraneni. .

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