Eliminating Counterfeits

Counterfeit IQ is working towards weeding out fake and unauthorised traders and products in the market

By Ramrai Naik

Digital revolution will change how the markets work – especially the shadow economy which nourishes fake products, which in today’s times are made nearly identical to their original counterparts. The team headed by Ganesh Faterpekar has developed a powerful tool in the form of a mobile app that can recognise counterfeit products/documents and help bring it to the notice of companies as well as the authorities. If this application is widely accepted, it has the potential to weed out unauthorised traders in the market.

Counterfeit IQ was founded in the year 2016 with a mission of eliminating counterfeit products and documents. According to its founder Ganesh Faterpekar, currently there is no fool-proof system which can help end users to differentiate between the original or counterfeit goods. People usually take help of logos, holograms, packaging and sometimes gut instincts based on how they feel about the product to identify the authentic product. “Counterfeit IQ will help you identify the counterfeit or fake product in a matter of seconds,” Ganesh assures.

“We are using blockchain technology to solve the problem of counterfeiting. It is a proven technology used in the financial world to transfer money securely”                                                                               Ganesh Fatarpekar – Founder, Counterfeit IQ

On being asked about why the issue of counterfeiting needs to be resolved, he says, “The losses due to counterfeiting stand at 1.7 trillions dollars; and in India it is estimated to be around 16 billion. The primary industries that are affected is manufacturing – drugs, pesticides, FMCG, spare parts, to name a few. It is not only about money, but there are around 700,000 deaths per year worldwide due to counterfeited drugs which needs to be addressed to save the human lives.”

Currently Counterfeit IQ is targeting high-end luxury goods; the alcohol industry; and medicine makers. However, in the near future, the startup would explore other markets, as well.

Informing about the technology used in the app, Ganesh tells, “We are using block-chain technology to solve the problem of counterfeiting. It is a proven technology used in the financial world to transfer money securely. This technology has already disrupted the normal financial world through Bitcoin and other crypto currency. And now, this technology has garnered attention of the world and is being adopted by other domains too.”

He recounts the year 2005-06, when he designed mobile apps, at the time when smartphones didn’t exist in the Indian market and apps were nowhere in the scene. “Back then, we envisioned that mobile apps are going to change the lives of people in the near future and now we can’t do with apps. We have an app for everything starting from managing our priorities to managing our lives. Today, we have a similar vision that block-chain is the technology for the future and it’s going to transform everything we do in the next 10 years. The fact that Chinese retail giant AliBaba is working on similar products like ours validates our vision as well our technology potential.”

How it works?

The startup takes the responsibility to integrate Counterfeit IQ at the product manufacturing level for their clients. Manufacturer then embeds product information onto their products. CounterfeitIQ team secures the product information by creating Blockchain transaction. Followed with integration with their supply chain to track the product flow. Finally, the product is delivered to the store.

Counterfeit IQ follows a three-step process to ensure that products/documents are authentic. To start with authorisation where the app validates the provider, ensuring that given product or document is manufactured or issued by the said entity. Secondly, the authentication, wherein it verifies the content on the packing/document is not altered. And lastly, the personalisation, wherein it matches the personalised content like store information, location data, user data etc.

On the user side, user scans the blockchain transaction using Counterfeit IQ in the store. App does the authorization and authentication. If the transaction is valid, the app will unlock the transaction and show the result about its genuineness.

Part of the core app feature are: scan feature, where users can detect fake product in a matter of seconds; report feature through which users can report if they encounter any fake products to authorities and companies.

Some of the additional benefits of the app are analytics like Heat map of most counterfeit areas, mail trigger to authorise to conducts raids, purchase point marketing, streaming the supply chain etc.

Ganesh considers identifying a counterfeit product or documents in matter of seconds is their biggest unique selling point. Other than that, there are other advantages like offline verification, multi-level verification, scalability, etc.

Counterfeit IQ has a web-based application which can be used by the manufacturer. It is also available on an android platform which can be used by the regulatory authorities and the end users. Also, the startup provides an API which can be integrated with any existing platform.

Ganesh expresses the need to add virtual token based solutions as most of the manufacturers are reluctant to print unique QR code on each SKUs for reasons like need of digital printing over offset printing, regulatory permission for changing labels etc.

For Ganesh, the new technology adaptation is a challenge by itself. He says, “We are the front runners in using blockchain in supply chain and in anti-counterfeit solution but the question we were posed were ‘whether blockchain technology will sustain’ etc.” However team CounterfeitIQ believes in innovating on new technologies to stay relevant.

Scaling heights

Having been drawn towards coding at a young age, Ganesh Fatarpekar had gradually started building apps. This was when general public were not even aware of the mobile technology or any ‘app’. The journey from there has been upwards where he has kept up with the promise to build solutions on varied grounds of mobile technology.

Ganesh Faterpekar, was born and brought up in Goa. He has 12 years of industry-wide experience in formulating technology solutions and a global exposure working in major technology hubs like Bangalore, London, Silicon Valley. His previous work experience includes for MNC clients like American Express, Travelodge, Mindtree, AVIS, Blackhawk Networks.

In 2005-06, Ganesh designed a Mobile Encyclopaedia which was featured on Gomantak Times. The following year, he designed a mobile app for tourists. In 2015, he was a winner at hackathon organized at Blackhawk Network, California, USA. His startup Counterfeit IQ was the top 10 finalist for two of the finest startup competitions in the state – Kaun Banega Udyogpati in 2016 and Chief Minister’s Startup Competition in 2017. His company was also adjudged as winner for Goa Management Association’s Startup of the Year 2017. The year 2017 has rather been fortunate for him with his startup being touted as one of the top 24 ideas that will change India – a distinction favoured by FIRSTPOST TV18 Pulse The Venture, a hunt for India’s most innovative business idea.

The Idea

Ganesh elaborates on how the idea of CounterfeitIQ app struck him. “In March 2015, I was travelling from San Francisco to Mumbai. When I got down in Mumbai, I purchased a bottle of Bisleri which I later realized was a fake. At that point, I had no means of proving that the bottle was fake; nor could I report it back to the company. Next day when I went to a restaurant, I purchased a bottle of Aquafina and on that bottle I saw some numbers printed below the barcode. That’s when I questioned myself, whether we could use Blockchain to solve this grave problem of counterfeiting.”

“I know about blockchain technology because I was working for a payment company in the Silicon Valley and I was developing products based on it. So when I went back to the US, I started connecting the dots backwards and 7-8 months down the line I had prototype which could solve the problem of counterfeiting,” he informs.

The Counterfeit IQ team comprises of four people which includes developer and marketing. Rajesh K, who has 15 years of advertising and marketing experience, heads the marketing function of the startup. Apart from them, they have hired a consulting firm based out of Mumbai who are putting together the ‘Go to market’ strategy.

On being asked about the response to the app, a year down the line from founding, Ganesh says, “End users are very upbeat about the app. They really want to use it for high-end products. However, app adoption can’t really happen until the manufacturers incorporate the technology onto their products.”

In the near future, Ganesh Faterpekar and his team are looking into possibilities of using Blockchain and Ethereum technology to solve other use cases. At the same time, they are looking to help small business raise money through Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and are also open to Blockchain and Ethereum consulting/training if any business organization needs the same. Some other products in the pipeline includes, SmartLock based on Blockchain smart contract.

Ganesh Faterpekar feels CIBA as their incubator has done all the necessary hand holding required right from incubation, providing mentorship, exposure to the industry. “We would like to thank CIBA and specially D S Prashant for his continued support. We would also extend gratitude to CII Goa Chapter, Karnataka excise group for giving us an opportunity to showcase our product to them,” he expresses.

5 years from now, Counterfeit IQ team sees themselves as the de-facto standard providing anti counterfeiting solution. “We are targeting 2 million USD in revenue in next 5 year,” claims Faterpekar. For youngsters who wish to be entrepreneurs Ganesh says, “Focus on solving a problem and delivering the value and you will automatically be an entrepreneur.” Further he quotes Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones fame), “Don’t wait for defining moments because they will never come. The moments that define you have already happened. And they will already happen again”.

 

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