Underlining its commitment to bolster innovation across sectors, Venture Catalysts, India’s first integrated incubator, has facilitated a seed investment worth $500k into Kalpnik, a start-up leveraging VR and AR technology to deliver immersive and interactive religious and spiritual experiences. The investment was led by prominent Investors from Venture Catalysts such as Ashwani Kakkar (Mercury Travels & Via.com), Mr G G Gulati (Chairman, United Group of Institutions) Bobby Reddy ( Indus Homes)Dr. Tinku Acharya (Co-architect-Webcam & MD-Videonetics) Raja Sahi ( SVP, Pixelogic Media) Anand Ladsariya (Owner, Everest Flavours), Nitin Agarwal (Owner, N M Fashions & Devesh Agriexim P Ltd) Anuj Puri, Nitesh Prakash (Senior Director, Ola), Vikash Agarwal & Manish Agarwal (Nandan Group), Dipak Agarwal (Onex Solutions), Rohit Parakh, Omi Singhania and investments from professionals from leading companies like CISCO, 24/7 etc. Mr Vansh Gulati from UGI and Anuj Puri from Venture Catalysts will be joining the board of Kalpnik.

Kalpnik’s application is already being touted as a significant development which will disrupt the country’s budding online religious activities, tourism and events space.

Kalpnikwas founded by John Kuruvilla (ex CRO Air Deccan, ex Managing Director, GenNext Ventures, a Reliance Industries sponsored venture fund and Ex Executive VP, The Oberoi Group) and business & technology veterans Ashwani Garg (ex-Director, New Business Solutions & IOT at Intel) and Apul Nahata (ex CTO GenNext Ventures, ex Qualcomm). The diverse backgrounds coupled with the need to create a disruptive Global company from India bought them together to work on this innovative idea which has untapped potential globally but is still an unexplored territory.

Kalpnik has been revolutionising the very concept of devotee engagement in India through immersive VR content& technology. Its proprietary, patent-pending technologydelivers object insertion and interactivity in 360-degreeVR video streams, enabling a viewing experience so powerful that it recreates for the devotee the experience of actually being physically present at the event.

Kalpnik supports industry-leading VR headsets and smart phones and working closely with several manufacturers. The Company has been in stealth mode for a year and it is close to releasing its application for Android andiOSplatforms. Reliable sources in the market mentioned that the company has produced immersive content for several large and small temples, religious organisations, and spiritual leaders.

One of the investor Ashwani Kakkar of Mercury Travels & Via.com believes that helping Devotees engage deeper with their faith will also provide a strong impetus to the Religious tourism sector. This is truly an innovation with a global relevance. The best part about the tech platform developed by Kalpnik is that it is sector agnostic and can be tweaked to address several other verticals like the entertainment and sports industry too.

Speaking of the potential of a disruptive solution such as Kalpnik, Mr. G.G. Gulati, Chairman – United Group of Institutions (UGI), said, “Religion and spirituality play a significant role in the lives of Indians. But with devotees significantly outnumbering available shrines, the crowded complexes at popular places of worship and the sheer physical distance between the devotee’s city of residence and the location of the shrine can often be a deterrent to a fulfilling spiritual experience. Kalpnik uses cutting-edge technology to tackle this challenge and to provide devotees with an immersive spiritual experience, regardless of their physical locations. We are confident that the Kalpnik platform can fulfil the need-gap for such tech-driven religious and spiritual solutions in the Indian market, and even scale to become the global domain leader in the space.”

Raja Sahi, US resident entrepreneur and investorclosely associated with media technologies for decades, said: “Kalpnik has a very unique take on religion and spirituality needs which is not only relevant to Indians living here but has global applicability.”

Kalpnik will be using the investment to develop content for hundreds of temples and gurus and onboard the same on its platform,thus making gurus and temples more accessible to their growing number of tech-savvy followers, both in India and overseas. As part of our Prime Ministers vision to digitise India, we believe Kalpnik will help temples digitise and VRIse their offerings. Sources mentioned that Kalpnik is in advanced stages of discussions with a few state governments to provide its services free of cost to help the stakeholders experience the benefit of their solution in helping bridge the gap between the devotee and their faith.

Ashwani Garg, CEO Kalpnik, added, “Digital disruption has beencompletely redefining how we function and operate. There is no single aspect of our lives which has not been, in some way or the other, revolutionised by technology. Kalpnik is a natural progression in the grand scheme of things. By leveraging cutting-edgeVR/ARtechnologies, we aredelivering an extremely immersive and interactive interface which isbringing devotees closer to fulfilling their religious and spiritualneeds. The investment and support from a market-leadingincubator like VCats will help us in growing our business and taking our unique value proposition to a much larger numberof religious establishments and devotees worldwide.” Our recent visit to the US where we met close to 100+ NRIs further validated our hypothesis that this is a great platform for people across the world to connect deeper with their faith. The immersiveness givesdevoteean experience close to physically being there and the Interactivity further amplifies the experience.

Venture Catalysts has established itself as a game-changer in the Indian entrepreneurial landscape by facilitating start-up development across multiple geographies, supported by an entire ecosystem of catalysts, angel investors, management consultants, and advisors. Moreover, it enables mentoring and seed funding opportunities through angel investments and supports services for the start-up community, helping highly disruptive early-stage ventures in realising their full business potential.

Venture Catalysts is currently operational in 7 cities across India. This includes top metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata, as well as tier-2 like cities Lucknow, Raipur, and Surat. VCats is aggressively expanding its physical footprint in high-potential geographies to tap into the country’s latent entrepreneurial talent.

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