“In addition to providing financial support, Banco Santander introduced us to some brilliant people at MIT, and some venture capitalists as well” - Karthik Rau, CEO at Stoke

26/03/2021 | Karthik Rau

Karthik Rau, MBA at the IE Business School, is the CEO of Stoke, a start-up focusing on the development and commercialisation of technology that allows other companies to remotely monitor the status of their industrial assets in real time.

This entrepreneurial project, which is a pioneer in its field, would not have been possible had the founder not decided to take part in the Santander X Tomorrow Challenge, a global challenge launched by Banco Santander in 2020 to promote innovative solutions to tackle the problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis.


“Our partnership with Banco Santander came at a critical stage in the development of our project.”

Karthik Rau, CEO at Stoke, winning project in the 2020 Santander X Tomorrow Challenge in the Re-Invent category
Karthik Rau, CEO at Stoke

Karthik signed up for this international challenge, along with more than 2,250 other companies, with Flicq, a start-up that develops smart sensors, algorithms and IoT (internet of things) platforms for both industrial and consumer use. That proposal won the first place among the more than 800 business initiatives competing in the Re-Invent category, which seeks to help traditional business models to evolve.

However, thanks to the boost the participation in the Santander X Tomorrow Challenge gave him, the entrepreneur was able to refocus his project and look towards new horizons.

"We were going through a period of change in terms of business dynamics due to the pandemic, and one of the prizes in the competition was financial support. This allowed us to carry out market research and understand our clients a little better."

As a result, Karthik and his team were able to launch a new product line that led to the founding of Stoke as an independent company, specialising in providing firms with tools to monitor their industrial assets, such as motors, compressors, pumps, HVAC systems and conveyor belts, from anywhere in the world and in real time, without needing to put employees at risk.

"Stoke has a very straightforward mission: to enable companies to monitor industrial assets in a simple way and without the need for lengthy and complicated installation procedures."

Based on the Edge AI technology developed by Stoke, which combines smart sensors, analytics and connectivity, the initiative that was developed thanks to the Santander X Tomorrow Challenge introduces a plug-and-play product that's giving excellent results onto the market: it can be installed in just 20 seconds, and is guaranteed to run for at least 3 years before the battery needs to be replaced.

"Our company is growing and scaling well thanks to the fact that Banco Santander, as well as providing financial support, has introduced us to some brilliant people from MIT and also some venture capitalists from their financial ecosystem who are still supporting us."

For this reason, Karthik strongly recommends any CEO or founder of a start-up to take a good look at Banco Santander’s initiatives for promoting entrepreneurship, and to take part in the next challenge: Santander X Environmental Challenge. This is a new global challenge launched in collaboration with the Oxentia Foundation aimed at entrepreneurs with innovative ideas that will help to combat climate change, and have a positive impact on the environment.

Stoke technology, developed by Karthik

With prizes worth 120,000 euros, mentoring programmes and awareness campaigns for the winners, the Santander X Environmental Challenge will reward the projects that best contribute to building a more sustainable future submitted in one of these two categories:

  • Be Sustainable: focused on initiatives that encourage green finance and investment. How does your project attract sustainable finance and investment from people and investors who want to support economic activities that have a positive environmental impact? How does your project help investors or financial institutions to help companies take the lead in the transition towards a low-carbon economy?
  • Be Mindful: focused on initiatives that raise awareness of the importance of reducing the environmental footprint. How can your project help people and businesses measure their own environmental footprint? How can you help provide solutions that help businesses and whole industries to reinvent themselves, reduce their environmental impact, and promote biodiversity?

If you have a project that will help companies take the lead in the transition to a low-carbon economy, the opportunity is here for you. Sign up for the Santander X Environmental Challenge!