In a recent episode of Shark Tank India Season 3, a small-town innovator from Yavatmal, Maharashtra, Harshal Mahadev Nakshane, showcased his creation — an AI car. The vehicle, a product of Nakshane’s start-up AI Cars, claimed to be India’s pioneer in artificially intelligent hydrogen-based vehicle manufacturing. The Sharks, however, refrained from diving into this venture.
The 27-year-old entrepreneur sought a Rs 2 crore investment for a four percent equity stake, unveiling the fact that he and his team crafted the AI car over 18 months in the humble confines of a backyard garage. The prototype, crafted at a cost of Rs 60 lakhs, employs a hydrogen fuel cell, ensuring a swift 5-minute refueling time and an impressive range of over 1,000 kilometers.
During the episode, the judges, including Anupam Mittal, Namita Thapar, and Vineeta Singh, took the AI car for a spin through the streets of Mumbai’s Film City. The contestant himself took the wheel, demonstrating the car’s autonomous capabilities as it deftly navigated sharp turns and handled obstacles. However, a momentary setback occurred when the vehicle struggled through a steep climb.
While the judges were impressed with the ride, they hesitated to invest. The primary concern lay in the ambitious combination of AI and hydrogen technology in a country lacking the necessary market and infrastructure, with limited refueling stations. Despite recognizing the entrepreneur’s sincerity, the Sharks believed the venture was too ambitious for the current Indian automotive landscape.
In response, the Sharks offered pragmatic advice to Nakshane. Instead of pursuing his own venture, they suggested he find employment within an established automotive company. The reasoning behind this counsel was clear — the endeavor required “billions of dollars,” far beyond the Rs 2 crore he sought. Deepinder Goyal of Zomato emphasized the importance of setting aside ego and understanding the practical hurdles ahead. Anupam Mittal commended Nakshane’s ambition but expressed concern about him being on the wrong path.
In his closing remarks, Mittal acknowledged Nakshane’s intelligence but urged him to redirect his efforts toward contributing to established companies where he could utilize his talent to push for new and improved technology. The Sharks, while appreciating the visionary thinking emerging from small villages, emphasized the need for a more practical and realistic approach in the face of significant industry challenges. This is not the first time that Nakshane’s and his AI Car have hogged the limelight. Recently, the AI Car was seen and appreciated by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Back then, it was presented as a hydrogen-powered car. You can read about that story here.