Rajeev Karwal, founder and chairperson of consumer robots brand Milagrow Robots, succumbed to Covid-19 on wednesday morning. He was on ventilator support for almost a week.
Karwal was a towering figure in the Indian electronics and technology space, and is most notably known for bringing LG Corp to India in 1997. He was LG Corps’ vice president of sales and marketing. The IMT Ghaziabad alumnus also served as the CEO of Electrolux Kelvinator and Reliance Retail.
Karwal started his four decade long career, by working with Onida as a deputy general manager of marketing. He was the first MBA graduate to join Onida, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had also worked with Chellsons and Hispano Kaycee in Spain, and Philips Electronics in India. He also went on to found the Academy of Indian Marketing Professionals in 2009.
Karwal set up Milagrow as an Indian technology and consulting firm in 2017. Through its HumanTech division, Milagrow entered the tablet market in 2011 and the domestic robots market in 2012. The company has launched products like Sunlight Readable TabTop, 2% Calling Tabs, floor cleaners and other automated floor cleaning devices.
But with GST tax reforms that kept robotics under 28% tax slab and the demonisation, Karwal was all set to call it quits by 2019. “We had missed the peak festival time…nothing was going the right way. I was not in a good mental state,” Karwal had said in an interview with Moneycontrol.
By mid-2019, Karwala and his team re-imagined Milagrow and turned their focus to the hospitality and facilities management segment. The company’s automated floor cleaning robots were in particular the most popular. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the company had also seen a rise in demand from retail customers and the business was back on its feet as the market went through the roof.
Rajeev Karwal’s Fight Against Covid-19 And Helping Healthcare
Milagrow also had a crucial role in helping Indian healthcare system to tackle the Covid-19 virus. The company had partnered with hospitals to offer a potential solution through their robots which minimise the physical interaction between patients and doctors. Robots are also replacing nurses and ward attendants who usually bring medicines and food to the patients in Covid-19 wards.
Milagrow HumanTech has developed a ‘Humanoid ELF’ that enables doctors to monitor and interact with contagious Covid-19 patients remotely. Rajeev Karwal, in an interview with Inc42, said that the robot was developed on the request of the administration of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). “We thought that we can install certain applications in our existing robots which can help doctors talk to the patients without meeting them,” Karwal added.
Milagrow developed three apps — the first one facilitates doctor-patient interaction, another app helps doctors control and manoeuvre the robot, while a third app broadcasts a live audio-video feed to healthcare workers and doctors. The robot detected minutest of the audio disturbances and could alrm healthcare professionals if any patient needed immediate supervision, Karwal had elaborated. The robot also facilitated video interaction between patients and their relatives.
The company had also launched an iMap 9 robot to properly disinfect specific zones inside the hospitals and minimise the exposure to the virus.
A Big Loss For Indian Tech
Rajeev Karwal’s loss was a big one for the Indian startup ecosystem as well as the technology ecosystem that looked up to him for guidance. Rajiv Makhani, managing editor at NDTV, said. “Another great mind & visionary lost to Covid. @rajeevkarwal. The man who brought Robotics to India with home grown @MilagrowRobots is no more. LG, Philip’s, Electrolux -he blazed a path everywhere he worked. We are losing incredible minds, not just people. A huge loss for us all”
Another great mind & visionary lost to Covid. @rajeevkarwal. The man who brought Robotics to India with home grown @MilagrowRobots is no more. LG, Philip’s, Electrolux -he blazed a path everywhere he worked. We are losing incredible minds, not just people. A huge loss for us all pic.twitter.com/BACrpBDUVv
— Rajiv Makhni (@RajivMakhni) May 12, 2021
Lloyd Mathias, angel investor and business strategist, said, “Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Rajeev Karwal! A stalwart of India’s consumer electronics world – Onida, Electrolux, LG, Philips and founder of Milagrow, gone to soon. RIP Rajeev.”