" Extensive testing to destruction is key to ensuring quality of the product."- Avdhesh Khaitan,Kadet Defence Systems
Kadet Defence Systems is a privately held Aviation and Aerospace company founded in the year 2005 by creating an aerial target for the Indian Army. Kadet Defence Systems is now branching out into the unmanned systems (UAVs) for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. They specialize in UAS Design, Development and Production, Composite Fabrication, Integration and Training.
Kadet Defence Systems was founded by Avdhesh Khaitan. He and his team started from a garage workshop where they created aerial targets for the Indian Army. They now have entered into a contract with the Indian MoD (Ministry of Defence).
In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, we got Avdhesh to talk about his experiences at Kadet Defence Systems, the various products offered by their company, how they bagged their first tender, importance of technology and reliability for any defense product, how to guarantee credibility for any company, where their funding came from, how to get investors for any start-up and a lot more. Avdhesh also discussed about his failures and what has he learnt from them. Read on!
CE: Could you tell our readers more about Kadet Defence Systems?
Avdhesh: Kadet Defence Systems is an integrated solutions provider developing unmanned systems and solutions Our customers include security establishments, first responders, researchers, farmers, industry amongst others.
CE: What are the various products and services offered by Kadet Defence Systems?
Avdhesh: We offer Aerial Targets for weapon development, evaluation and training for the Air Defence Forces, UAV’s for law enforcement and public security and also for industrial and academic applications and UAV Operations and Maintenance Services. We are also manufacture on behalf of global OEM’s and are a part of their global supply chains including offset absorption.
CE: What is the typical timeline between the day the company started its operations to bagging its first tender?
Avdhesh: We waited for 4 years although we did have pilot orders from the very beginning.
CE: How must a start up go about securing order for a defence product, which, more than the advancement of technology, demands a much higher degree of reliability?
Avdhesh: The defence environment is very tough to say the least. We just went in there and followed Sir Richard Branson’s “Screw it. Just Do It” Theory. Developing a product and winning a Tender is not the most difficult but going around the Inspectors during deliveries and the customer complaints which most of the times ends up due to lack of adequate training in respect of the use of the product is. The Quality Assurance System for the Defence Forces needs to be completely overhauled as they have not been able to catch up with innovative technology and are still biased towards foreign vendors. The Quality Assurance System is also not transparent and the various Acceptance Tests and Procedures are thrust upon on an ad hoc basis. More in the case of smaller enterprises. The first tender is about acclimatization and burning cash while things start getting better once you know your way.
CE : How do you guarantee the credibility of your company?
Avdhesh: Life Cycle Management of a product is a key to guaranteeing credibility. Constant upgrades and customer support and interactions ensure performance and maintaining credibility.
CE: Making a product is one thing, but ensuring it’s life over extended period of time is another which can only be guaranteed by extensive testing. How can a startup ensure good quality products and services?
Avdhesh: Build It and they will test it for you is a disaster mantra in the defence business. Extensive testing to destruction is key to ensuring quality of the product and that of the sub systems. Traceability and a good QMS would be the key to success. Internal Tests of all sub system cannot be emphasized more.
CE: What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Avdhesh: Bespoke Development for a customer at the start up stage was one of our biggest failures after having bagged a contract. Another failure was when a company from a foreign nation did not have the required permissions to export equipment after we won them business in India. Takeaways from both were that there was no quick way to business or cash (most important in the start up environment) and watertight agreements with adequate safeguards and deterrents for non performance is a must. The important thing is not to be put off by failure but learn from the occasion when we didn’t succeed!
CE: Where did your Kadet Defence System's funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How can one obtain investors for their venture?
Avdhesh: The defence sector is tough when it come to PE or Venture Capital as business is cyclical and based on competitive bidding process which can take a few years for decisions. We sustained due to own investments, internal accruals and zero debt. The new government is however taking various initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship and things are a lot easier than a decade ago.
CE: Thank you for your time. Any message for our readers?
Be strong and follow your heart and don’t be subservient to nah sayers and failures. There will be plenty on the way.