Butler and Sorter seem like an unlikely pair. One is unassuming, small, and squat, though it has a talent for lifting weighty shelves and whirring around with them. The other is loud, long, and immobile, with a conveyor belt for a spine and pneumatic arms that swing with unerring precision.
Yet, they are a match made in robotic heaven with a bright future, especially now that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) promises to transform their homestead: The Indian warehouse. And there is no one more invested in this mechanical love story than a 27-year-old engineer called Akash Gupta.
Gupta is the chief technology officer (CTO) of GreyOrange, a robotics company that he founded with a senior from college, Samay Kohli, in 2011. The venture, which began as a way to formalise a collegiate obsession with robotics, has grown to become one of the rising stars of India’s startup ecosystem.
Having raised at least $38 million from the likes of Tiger Global and Blume Ventures, GreyOrange now sells its warehouse automation solutions (featuring Butler and Sorter) across the world. The company, now headquartered in Singapore, has a massive research & development facility in Gurugram, near Delhi, and offices in Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, and Dubai, with a total workforce of over 650 people.
For two years in a row, it has also been voted among the world’s top 50 robotics companies to watch by trade publication Robotics Business Review, where its peers include Alphabet (Google), Boston Dynamics, and DJI.
So, it’s a little hard to imagine that less than a decade ago, GreyOrange’s CTO scarcely knew anything about robotics.
BITS by bit
Gupta spent most of his school years in Kanpur, a large industrial city in Uttar Pradesh once known for its thriving textile mills. “I was deep into computer programming, computer animation, and stuff like that,” he said in a telephone interview during a business trip to Santiago, Chile, last month. “But, of course, nothing close to…