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Torchbearer Thursday: Team Zuppa

– Mira Venkat

Lumiere Torchbearer Thursday is a weekly initiative that aims to showcase the outstanding contributions made by organisations during the pandemic. On May 28, 2020, Lumiere welcomed the “first family of deep technology” from Chennai. The family runs Zuppa Geo Navigation Technologies, which aims to structure a Post-COVID society by enabling efficient use of resources through data driven operations and technological innovation. The bright minds behind this company and its groundbreaking innovations – Sai Pattibiram, Venkatesh Sai, and Rajashri Sai – greeted us with warm smiles.

The name “Zuppa” caught our attention. When questioned about its origins, the family had an interesting story to tell. They explained that the word is derived from the Italian word that translates to “Tuscan soup,” an amalgamation of vegetables that come together to form a wholesome dish. Similarly, Zuppa prides itself on its diverse range of technologies. They had decided to jump on the bandwagon of naming their company after a food item, a popular trend at the time of Zuppa’s founding.

Zuppa’s journey is truly unique. They have long specialised in drone technology, specifically drone autopilot and flight control. Mr. Sai narrated that Zuppa invented their drone technology just when a ban on the use of civilian drones was enforced, leaving them with the relevant technology but no market to cater to. Nevertheless, the foundational principles of geolocation (GPS tagging) and geonavigation (the act of flying the drone) continued to guide the company as they reengineered their technology to be applied in other fields.

Soon, Zuppa began developing vehicle tracking systems, further diversifying into temperature monitoring solutions for cold chain vehicles and cold storage. The team’s rapid adaptability and zest for innovation eventuated in yet another application of its core competency upon the onset of the pandemic. This time, Zuppa has harnessed its technology to create social change.

With just a smartphone mounted on a selfie stick-like contraption, the Zuppa application enables one to monitor their body temperature and SpO2 (oxygen saturation) levels to detect symptoms of infection. Using cloud computing, this biological data – along with data regarding user identity and the date, time, and location of the scan – is stored in a database. If a high temperature is detected, the individual is directed to nearby hospitals with available beds using real-time allocation. Currently, the Zuppa application has been adopted by companies and factories who use it to trace movement of employees, monitor vitals, and identify clusters of the virus.

Zuppa’s differentiated approach to inefficiencies resulting from asymmetric information (for example, inadequate information about available hospital beds) ensures that a crucial societal need is met. It eliminates redundancy associated with manually recording data, ensures safety due to the contactless procedure, and is accessible to all.

When asked about the future, Team Zuppa was optimistic about the lifechanging potential of their software. They were hopeful that it will be adopted on a national scale to prevent further deterioration of public health once the lockdown is lifted. There is scope to extend this platform to clinics and hospitals, where doctors can constantly maintain a personalized log of the patient’s temperature and oxygen levels. Zuppa’s technology could possibly eradicate the need for unnecessary visits to the doctor, serving as a bridge between doctors and patients who can rely on telemedicine instead. Furthermore, partnerships with e-commerce companies could optimise the safety of deliveries for the customer and employee alike.

Team Zuppa’s session was incredibly inspiring. We were left marvelling at their determination, dedication, and rapid ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. The family’s passion for technology and community complement each other to deliver an extremely impactful resource to the nation. At Lumiere, we are enthralled by this revolutionary development. We are excited to witness this Torchbearer Trio light up the way for efficient post-lockdown management.

1992 - 1996
1996
1997 - 2001
1999
2001 - 2007
2013 - 2019
1992-1996

Initiation

Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.

1996

Beginning

Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica

1997-2001

Incubation

The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.

1999

Establishing

An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.

2001-2007

Invigoration

Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.

2013-2019

Innovation

Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.