Number Crunching: A smart calculator for traders
By Anuj Bhatia
A year ago, Praveen Mishra, the co-founder of Tohands, thought making a “smart” calculator would be a dumb idea and nobody would want it. But when he saw a woman running a small shop in Sarjapur, Bengaluru, struggling to keep track of all transactions, Mishra realized the importance of a ‘smart’ calculator that also records data. “She would calculate the final amount on the calculator and write it down on paper, then at the end of the day, calculate the final amount again using a calculator,” he said.
“Calculators have a basic use case, but we can do other things besides calculating, making smart calculator a good tool for traders,” Mishra said, explaining the idea of transforming the humble calculator into a “connected” calculator. He started Tohands in 2017 with Satyam Sahu and Shanmuga Vadival.
Small Business Backbone
Mishra observed that small business owners are neither comfortable with digital mobile khata (cash book) apps nor have the resources to invest in expensive invoicing machines. What they prefer is a simple calculator to perform the regular calculations that are involved in daily life. “The backbone of small businesses in India is still a calculator,” he said. That’s when he decided to reinvent the calculator, but the challenge was how to improve it.
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The first version of the “smart” calculator developed by Mishra was a prototype Raspberry Pi-powered device with a keypad and two buttons, one for credit and one for debit. The second version was a much more refined product and had the calculation functionality as well as the credit and debit function, but the screen was small and the device used a membrane keyboard. It wasn’t until Tohands was selected at T-hub, an incubation hub for IT startups at Raidurgam in Hyderabad, that Mishra and his team were motivated to try the hardware again and improve the design to make the smart calculator a reality. The third version of the smart calculator, priced at ¥3,000, is more user-friendly and can do much more than the first and second versions combined.
Focus on the little things
Mishra said he applied the principle of MAYA (Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable). For example, the button pattern of this smart calculator is somewhat similar to what you see on a Casio or Citizen calculator. However, there are subtle changes that are unique to this calculator. The calculator’s memory buttons have been scaled down to accommodate cash-in and cash-out buttons, for which Mishra’s startup has filed a patent.
Unlike an ordinary calculator, the smart calculator saves all calculations. The connected calculator supports Wi-Fi and a mobile application displays the transaction on your smartphone. There is a built-in memory of 16MB, which can store 5 million transactions. The device comes with a 2400mAh rechargeable battery, a USB-C port for charging, and a dot-matrix display.
Mishra said Tohands plans to roll out new features and improve capabilities via OTA updates. The target is to build 2,000 units per month and expand to 1 lakh by next year. The company received Rs
30 lakh as investment from the T-hub Startup India Seed Fund and anotherRs 20 lakh from angel investors. The funds will be used to set up a manufacturing unit for these smart calculators.
The connected smart calculator supports Wi-Fi and a mobile app displays the transaction on your smartphone
Tohands aims to build 2,000 units per month and gradually expand to 1 lakh by next year
The startup received Rs 30 lakh as investment from T-hub Startup India Seed Fund and another Rs 20 lakh from angel investors