Bangalore-based Tonbo Imaging (earlier known as Serial Innovations India Pvt Ltd), which develops imaging technology for armed forces across the globe, has secured Rs 34 crore ($6.4 million) from Artiman Ventures, a US-based early-stage investor.
Tonbo, whose technology is used in unmanned vehicles and drones by the defence sector all over the world, including the DRDO units in India, will use the money for research and development and scaling up its teams in India, the US and Israel.
“We will use the money to expand our sales and marketing team. Currently, we are not spending much on that,” Tonbo founder Arvind Lakshmikumar told VCCircle. “We typically spend 40-50 per cent of our revenues on R&D; so a large chunk of the funding will go into that as well,“ added Lakshmikumar, an alumnus of BITS (Pilani) and Carnegie Mellon University.
Set up in 2007, Tonbo develops intellectual property for products that sense, analyse and control complex environments. Tonbo’s systems allow soldiers to see during day and night, through fog and foliage, and do real time interpretation of battlefield environment. Its applications also include surveillance – sensing automobile collisions before they happen. It also provides micro-optics, lower power electronics and real time vision, sold in the form of smart cameras.
Tonbo, which caters to the defence and homeland security markets in India, the Middle East, the US and Africa, is now planning to expand its products suite in India. “There are very few companies in the imaging and optics markets in India and most of the technologies used in the optics and imaging spaces are being imported. Now, we are scaling up our products suite in India to make sure that people don’t depend too much on foreign markets for security products,” said Lakshmikumar.
The company, which has 15 patents awaiting approval, raised Rs 2.2 crore from Mumbai Angels last year. Tonbo has a 12-strong team, with offices in Palo Alto and Singapore as well. Its key customers include Europe’s largest defence contractor BAE Systems, auto parts maker Visteon Corp and Autoliv Inc., the world’s largest maker of automotive air bags and seatbelts.
Commenting on the investment, Ramesh Radhakrishnan, partner at Artiman Ventures, said, “India is in the early stages of creating world-class product companies. Tonbo’s technology and products are cutting edge with very compelling performance and cost metrics.”
Artiman has also invested in Gaurav Network Systems Pvt Ltd, Nethra Imaging and Virident Systems Inc., according to VCC Edge, the data research platform of VCCircle. It has also put in money in Cellworks and Oncostem Diagnostics.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)