Partner spotlight: How OPIC outreach workshops connect small businesses with the global market
In 2010 Milind Tavshikar (pictured) was a recent graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Business with a winning business plan built around a technology he’d developed to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of shipping cargo. SmartKargo is a cloud-based RFID technology that uses handheld devices to scan cargo before it is loaded onto aircraft. Because it is cloud-based, it can be deployed without any upfront investments in hardware and when it is deployed it can help reduce theft and misrouting and improve value chain productivity.
Tavshikar’s business, QuantumID, had won money from a business school competition, raised additional funds from angel investors and had had early success entering contracts with some major Indian airlines. But as it sought to expand in India, it struggled to raise financing.
Tavshikar learned about OPIC during one of OPIC’s outreach events like the Expanding Horizons OPIC will host later this month in Nashville, and ultimately obtained a $3 million OPIC loan to expand its business in India.
“We struggled for a year and a half to bring more money into the company,” says Tavshikar. “Since we were a U.S. corporation, banks in India did not want to finance us and since our customers were in India, banks in the U.S. did not want to lend us either.” In 2015, OPIC committed additional financing to support QuantumID’s expansion into The Philippines, a country whose geography of more than 7000 islands poses significant challenges to travel and cargo transport.
In the five years since OPIC initially partnered with QuantumID, the company has formed partnerships with multiple international air carriers including Norwegian Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and India’s Spice Jet. This network is supporting international freight shipments across multiple carriers, as well as cargo shipments in passenger jets. As more travelers decline bag checks and carry on their luggage, airlines are seeing more unused cargo space. By offering businesses a reliable way to move cargo on commercial planes, the QuantumID technology helps lower the cost of shipment.
The business now employs 15 people in its Cambridge, Mass. headquarters as well as about 50 in India.
Since 2006, OPIC has been hosting small business workshops around the country On Nov. 19, OPIC will bring its popular Expanding Horizons workshop to Nashville, where it will educate small businesses about the opportunities of investing in emerging markets and the ways OPIC can help. Learn more about Expanding Horizons.