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How three former Ola employees are building an 'Ola of home automation providers'

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Until last September, Mrinal Kashyap was heading Ola’s leasing business in Mumbai, and was responsible for the daily supply of vehicles to large B2B customers, including the city’s top hotels. Prior to that, he served as the sales and operations head for Meru Cabs. And, before that, he had founded a logistics startup - MyShipMate - in 2013, which was eventually acquired by Parcelled.in (a Delhivery-funded startup, now defunct) in 2015.

Even though Mrinal spent three years as a salaried professional, the urge to start up again stayed with him. He likes sporting the “serial entrepreneur” tag and is ready to “burn cash and build” something all over again. Late last year, he finally got the opportunity.

The idea of Habitro Labs, Mrinal’s new startup, germinated when he wanted to get his home automated. After a few Google searches and some on-ground recces across Mumbai, he realised that the city had tens of hundreds of local manufacturers and suppliers of home automation systems.

But, the market was highly unorganised; there was no single player who could be trusted with either products or after-sales service. Also, it is not easy for a layman to find these dealers.

Mrinal Kashyap, Co-Founder & CEO, Habitro Labs

Mrinal tells YourStory, “These are mostly small dealers without any technical background who import products from Europe or China, and integrate them in people’s homes. They have no branding, no after-sales channel, and certainly do not inspire buyers even if they have the spending power. Questions remain like what if the shop shuts down abruptly? Can a buyer trust them with a few lakhs of their money?”

Even international companies like Lutron, a global leader in home automation, lacks brand recognition and market connect in India. Their........

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