Aastha Verma – Preventing Risks By Promoting Digital Change

Businesses can overcome hurdles if they see them early. In these crucial times, a business can survive only if it is future-ready. In this scenario, Risk Management plays a vital role that can change the businesses’ tomorrow.

Ms. Aastha Verma and her expert team at Tardid are empowering businesses to chart new paths by helping them to predict and make smarter decisions.

Tardid is an AI Product Company focused on Risk Management for Heavy Industries. Tardid is a close-knit family comprising of all the team members, working towards a common goal of bringing an AI product that can help in saving lives and money for the end customers. It’s for making the workplace safer and increasing the quality of the product.

In a talk with Ms. Aastha Verma, COO at Tardid let’s discover more about the company and her views on the current industry scenario.

  • What were the initial challenges you faced? 

Challenges were there from the word go. The decision to quit a comfortable job and start something new at a time when there was not much financial backup was just the surface issue.

The challenges started growing bigger when we tried to step up from ideation to the actual production stage. When Neel & I thought of the idea of Tardid, AI was still relatively new, and to implement it in heavy industries beyond the usual process improvement part was unheard, thus as many start-ups, Tardid also faced the problem of raising a fund for a completely new area of work.

Challenges are also involved to get like-minded people to join us on this journey. It was equally important to remain financially disciplined for the initial 1.5yr while we were bootstrapping and also to maintain the discipline after our first angel round of investment.

Challenges have never seized to come our way, from finding the right investors to making customers understand the benefits of our offering.

  • Which was that point that triggered the growth of Tardid?

When Tardid got our first opportunity to provide proof of concept from the Navy, was the trigger point for our success. There was no looking back for Tardid from thereon. One project followed with others and our team slowly started to grow and gain confidence. Today we are far more confident than what we were we started and there has been no looking back ever since.

  • What is the reason behind Tardid’s long-standing success?

Success only comes through when all the pieces fall together in place work towards a common goal. I strongly believe in the Power of Association, and I would say, the success of Tardid is due to a group of like-minded people, with the same vision trying to achieve the same goal and working together towards it. This group is not only the founders and investors but also the entire team working relentlessly.

I would also like to add that Niladri Dutta, our Founder & CEO is personally responsible for keeping the team motivated and focused on this direction. We know we have not been able to compensate the team at par with the industry, but they have been great enough to have faith in us and working together. Honesty to the team about all our challenges and difficulties was also responsible to keep us bonded together in thick and thin.

  • What are the products/ services Tardid focuses on? How are they different from those in the market?

We all are well aware of the unprecedented risk involved in heavy industries like marine, oil & gas, manufacturing, etc., a lot of these risks are involved due to unplanned failures of the assets like big pieces of machinery/ structures.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

Vivian Greene

Brainbox is an Indigenous-built Artificial Intelligence Platform. Tardid works towards managing the risks associated with the uncertainty of breakdowns/ failures using the power of Artificial Intelligence.

Brainbox is a Physics-based model-driven AI platform that makes it unique compared to our competitors. Our 4 modules Brainbox Prime (Structural Health Management), Brainbox Xander (Machine Health Management), Brainbox Stormbreaker (Decision Support for Prime & Xander), and Brainbox Knowhere (AI-Based Threat Intelligence), cater to the diverse but critical needs of Heavy Industries to manage their risks proactively.

At present most of the available solutions look into making operations excellence, a few IOT based solutions may provide the real-time status of the assets but none provides proactive alert with root cause analysis and the steps required to avoid such a breakdown. This is a major difference that differentiates Brainbox and its modules from the rest of our competitors.

  • How do you decide to take Tardid a step further in terms of your products?

I think it is still early for us to diversify from the existing set of product suits which we offer, essentially as the market has just started looking into AI in heavy Industries with a keen lookout. However, I would like to point out that when we started we had bundled our entire offering as a single product but over the years and understanding our customers better, we realized to de bundle the product into different modules. This helped the customer to adopt what is required and also gave them a path on how to map the future roadmap for their organizations.

Brainbox provides the customers with the flexibility to increase the engagement starting from just one asset to the entire plant one step at a time. This allows the customers and their team to use, experience the advantages, and move forward.

  • Is there any new addition to the list of products/services? Anything exciting you would like to share?

Though we are not adding new products we are in the process of setting an AI Lab for Heavy Industrial requirements. Often the customers from heavy industries doubt before they adopt a new technology on the viability of the product for their environment. With the help of AI Lab, they will be in a better position to look into what is achievable. Also, a prominent methodology in heavy Industry is NDT, with Tardid’s AI Lab, they will be able to experience the NDT & AI-based testing at the same time to understand the differences first hand. Thus helping the customers to make their decision better.

Life is not going to get any easy by waiting, we have to work hard towards making life the way we want it to be.

Aastha Verma
  • How has technology transformed the traditional way of business?

The technology is a complete 180-degree change from the traditional thought process. Traditionally the heavy industries relied heavily on the experts/ underwriters/ surveyors for understanding their assets. Unfortunately, the opinions changed from one individual to another and also from one region to another. Moreover, the industry-heavy depended on the thumb rules which are being followed for years. At Tardid we call the above systematic casual analysis, however, what Brainbox delivers is a Scientific Knowledge-based Decision Intelligence Platform.

In simpler terms, Brainbox relies on the knowledge it has from this asset in a scientific process-driven manner. Also as it is an AI system, it can process information with better accuracy and speed than what an individual can do. Brainbox remains unbiased and independent and cannot be influenced by anything but the facts.

Slowly but steadily the industries have started experiencing the benefits of AI and the adoption of technology has been growing. Even in COVID times, the adoption of new technology has been a priority in all industries, with almost 26% of world leaders in heavy industries looking to adopt Artificial Intelligence.

  • Can you please brief us about your professional experience?

Well, my professional experience started as a Business Analyst with HCL, right out of my B-School. I was lucky to get a great first boss who helped in shaping the professional I am today. Over the years I changed a few jobs and my profiles along with. I also dabbled with entrepreneurship earlier while I was on my maternity break for a few years. But in my last organization, I was heading the strategic partnerships & alliances.

In these years, no matter what profile I worked with which companies, few things which always stood out were perseverance, being assertive and not aggressive, to empathize and not sympathize. With this mantra so far I have been able to sail through and made some great friends in the industry who I came across. Good professional relationships helped me to find my way through and maneuver successfully in the corporate world.

  • What are the key achievements of your entrepreneurial journey?

When we started Tardid, we had kept it bootstrapped, for close to 1.5 years, working out of Café Coffee Day. There were times when there was doubt on the idea, the market but now when I look at Tardid, I feel we have been able to do fairly well.

I have a superb team, who I will not change for anything. I simple but robust infrastructure we call our corporate office. A world-class product Brainbox, which has been delivering to our customers. Along the way, Tardid got it due to recognition from different agencies both in India & globally. But what brings a smile to our face is that we have been able to build something which will change the way heavy industries dealt with the huge machinery. Brainbox is changing the world perspective and that’s the biggest achievement for Niladri (Founder & CEO) and me.

  • How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?

It may be a cliché to say, that our team is our extended family, but then again it is true in every sense. The team is unique as we are a group of people with a varied backgrounds both professionally and personally. A lot of our team members left their well-paying jobs to join our crazy bandwagon.

It’s the belief of the team which drives Tardid, we believe that’s our biggest strength.

  • Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?

All client experiences are unique and noteworthy. For us, one thing remained a constant in all our interactions, or should I say our first interactions with our clients. When we present our product, we are often confronted with disbelief as we are trying to bring a complete change in their thought process and how the risks should be perceived and managed.

We have often been questioned about our educational background and previous work experience which were in drastically different industries. But this doubt which the clients had given us the motivation to prove to them that we can deliver, and our diversity is our strength. A different lookout made Brainbox possible and today Brainbox is essentially an outcome of all the objections which the clients gave to us converted into a product that meets and exceeds their expectations.

  • One person who you admire the most?

Some people may not be able to relate to her but I find Helen Keller the most inspiring person and I truly am in awe of her. Being deaf and blind never stopped her she has and shall continue to inspire millions of people around the world. She never allowed our challenges to limit her, on the contrary, she converted her challenges into her strength. A lot of us who complain about our circumstances should read about her and understand our challenges are just in our head, if we can perceive it we can achieve it.

  • It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?

It’s a rat -race only if we think it’s a race. I believe there is enough for everyone to co-exist and sustain. We need to have a more collaborative environment to work in tandem and constructively.

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