“Our energy-efficient motor controllers optimize appliance and vehicle motor performance, reducing energy waste during operation and cutting down carbon emissions. ” Omer Basith, CEO & Co-Founder Virtual Forest
Electronics Era : Please introduce Virtual Forest as a company in brief?
Omer Basith : We specialise in motor control electronics & human interface technologies for the consumer appliance and electric mobility ecosystem. We provide a unique category of service that gives the Indian consumer electronics ecosystem access to world-class Original Design Manufacturing Services (ODM) while avoiding the high-cost lengthy process involved with the application of new technologies and capacity creation.
Virtual Forest gives its customers a unique design and manufacturing experience – hand holding them in the absence of design requirements, providing in-house domain expertise, and helping them walk the journey from R&D all the way to mass manufacturing. We want to make India the hotspot of electronics manufacturing by becoming the go-to partner for leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
Virtual Forest is trying to address major gaps in the electronics ecosystem, namely the lack of R&D and the huge dependence on imports. The company is trying to build a local supply chain for critical electronic components by designing & developing motor controllers in-house (local IP creation). A lot of OEM players are highly dependent on neighbouring countries like China or Vietnam for critical electronic components. The government is already trying to build a domestic supply chain of electronics manufacturing to cut down on imports and position India as a manufacturing powerhouse. Schemes like PLI, PMP, FAME are all steps in that direction. Our vision is to capture the value of licence costs (involving high margins) in electronics manufacturing on Indian soil. As of now, we are largely assembling and testing finished products and the initial stages of the supply chain are completely outsourced. The market is filled with vendors who are just buying and selling outsourced electronic components. We are trying to change that by specialising in ESDM (Electronics System Design & Manufacturing) capabilities – which is seriously lacking in the ecosystem currently.
Electronics Era : How has your journey been with Virtual Forest so far and what made you start this company?
Omer Basith: The journey has been challenging and fulfilling in equal measure. In a short span of time, we have managed to onboard some of India’s blue chip brands. We take great pride in what we are doing – our mission is to drive net zero emissions through the deployment of our motor control technology in home appliances and Evs.
Prior to joining Virtual Forest, I was the CEO of Solid State Systems Pvt. Ltd. (SSSPL), an electronic component manufacturing company. I successfully exited SSSPL after assisting the company in reaching size in the Indian and export markets. I’ve always been interested in energy conservation and sustainability, and I wanted to do something meaningful in this space. I saw an opportunity to do so in motor run applications while working in the electronics space,. Motors consume at least 60% of residential energy in a typical home in the form of fans, ACs, refrigerators, washing machines, etc. Most of the motors we use today are induction motors, which is not the most energy efficient. If we make the shift from induction motors to BLDC technology, it would not only help in energy conservation but be more cost effective for consumers as well. So that was what propelled me into starting Virtual Forest.
Electronics Era: Surging demand for zero-carbon technologies, materials, and services are opening up avenues for companies to build new green businesses. How do you see exponential growth in this sector?
Omer Basith: The escalating demand for zero-carbon technologies, materials, and services is paving the way for the emergence of innovative green enterprises. This sector is poised for exponential growth due to several key factors. Firstly, global efforts to combat climate change are pushing industries to adopt sustainable practices, creating a ready market for environmentally friendly solutions. Secondly, advancements in research and technology are lowering the cost and improving the efficiency of green alternatives, making them more attractive to businesses and consumers alike. This is supplemented by government policies and incentives designed to promote eco-friendly initiatives. In addition to this, the heightened public awareness and shifting consumer preferences towards eco-conscious products drive demand, fostering a robust market for zero-carbon offerings. As these factors multiply and converge, the sector is primed for accelerated growth, presenting lucrative opportunities for companies to establish and thrive in the realm of sustainable and environmentally responsible businesses.
Electronics Era: It is estimated that almost 85% of opportunities in green tech space can be solved through hardware tech. According to you, how will hardware technology be the game changer in this segment?
Omer Basith: In the rapidly evolving green technology landscape, hardware technology is a pivotal force capable of reshaping industries and steering them towards sustainability.
Innovations in hardware can play a big role in achieving net zero targets. Economical insulation methods and advancements in thermal technologies can improve heating and cooling efficiencies in homes. If these technologies are extrapolated to industrial settings, they can contribute to decreased energy consumption. Furthermore, continued electrification in transportation will open doors for clean power sources like hydro, wind, solar and nuclear. Government policies that enforce energy efficiency and support the easy deployment of these technologies (in terms of subsidies) will lead to a cultural shift in adopting clean energy sources. Virtual Forest’s energy-efficient motor controllers exemplify this potential.
Electronics Era: How Virtual Forest products help in minimising energy consumption, thereby contributing to climate conservation efforts?
Omer Basith: Virtual Forest’s expertise in motor control electronics and human interface technologies underpins its contribution to minimising energy consumption and supporting climate conservation. Our energy-efficient motor controllers optimise appliance and vehicle motor performance, reducing carbon emissions and energy waste during operation. Our precise motor control solutions in electric vehicles enhance acceleration and regenerative braking, recapturing kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost, thus extending vehicle range. Pairing these solutions with intuitive human-machine interfaces helps promote energy-conscious user behaviour, curbs inadvertent energy use and fosters sustainable usage patterns. By combining all these approaches, Virtual Forest significantly reduces energy consumption, conserves valuable resources, and plays a pivotal role in global climate conservation efforts.
Electronics Era: According to you, what are the challenges and opportunities in the Indian EMS Industry?
Omer Basith: The Indian Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) industry presents a dynamic landscape with both challenges and opportunities:
- Infrastructure: Insufficient infrastructure, including the lack of reliable power supply and transportation networks, can hinder efficient manufacturing operations.
- Skill Gap: There’s a shortage of skilled labour, particularly in areas of advanced electronics and manufacturing technologies, impacting overall productivity and quality.
- Regulatory Compliance: Navigating complex regulatory frameworks and compliance standards can be challenging, especially for international markets.
- Supply Chain Disruptions: Dependence on global supply chains exposes the industry to disruptions, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Cost Competitiveness: Maintaining cost competitiveness while ensuring quality is a constant struggle, especially when competing with low-cost manufacturing hubs.
- Rapid Technological Evolution: Keeping pace with rapid technological advancements requires constant upskilling and investment, posing financial and operational challenges.
- Domestic Demand: Urbanisation and the growing Indian middle class are driving demand for electronics and creating a significant domestic market.
- Government Initiatives: Initiatives like “Make in India” and production-linked incentives attract investments and bolster domestic manufacturing.
- Export Potential: Indian manufacturers can leverage cost-effective manufacturing capabilities to make India an attractive destination for global OEMs looking to diversify their supply chains.
- Research and Development: Establishing R&D centres can foster innovation, lead to technology advancements, and address skill gaps.
- Green Manufacturing: A shift towards environmentally sustainable practices aligns with global trends and offers a unique selling point.
- Emerging Technologies: The adoption of technologies like IoT, AI, and 5G creates opportunities for specialised EMS providers.
- Start-up Ecosystem: Collaborating with start-ups can drive innovation and create symbiotic partnerships.
- Local Sourcing: There is a demand for local component sourcing to reduce dependence on imports and enhance supply chain resilience.
Balancing these challenges and opportunities requires a strategic approach, strong collaborations, investment in infrastructure and skills, and a commitment to adapt to changing industry dynamics.