The Fear of Social Entrepreneurship
Does a failed entrepreneur exist? Because no one ever introduced themselves to me as a failed one! An entrepreneur does not take risks, he manages risks. An entrepreneur would find the strengths and opportunities in accordance to the area where the business opportunity is identified therefore the idea behind our entrepreneur is not formulaic.
In case of social entrepreneurship the problems often identified and discussed on forums are of limited liability for the ‘social entrepreneur’ and unlimited liability for the already impoverished community. In India, social entrepreneurship is ashamed of a success rate of 3%. Grassroots interventionists shirk from taking active initiatives or even providing inspiration because of the lack of knowledge on business management, development strategies and local economy analysis. The core motive of the interventionist tends to dwindle because it lies in a vulnerable place in the community and stems from the daily battle for economic betterment.
Therefore, with the investment of only the time of the self-sacrificing interventionist, not his own philanthropy (read capital) nor the risk or credit of the gravely indebted farmers, one may find social entrepreneurship to be a rising challenge for the handicapped interventionist.
Entrepreneurship in agriculture
Agriculture is not just about good agriculture anymore; it is about more complex avenues for developing agriculture, which requires entrepreneurial abilities to corroborate already existing systems and dissuade them from dependence on farm income.
The major enterprising skills as well as market linkages can identify agriculture and to some extent semi-processing units within the rural sector which can further lead to forward linkages in the rural non-farm sector, thus luring trade related commerce to be on the rise. This is only a certainty if agricultural credit is available to the farmers. However the scope for saving and availing credit for the farmer is a large potential goldmine for money creation in the rural areas, as the ability and willingness to repay for the farmer is very high, provided they are organized.
The reason behind this seemingly distorted analogy about the willingness of the farmer to repay is the more obvious willingness to grow and be more closely associated with the bank that gives interests to the farmers at a lower rate than the local money lender. Thus using the mainstay of the rural economy which is agriculture to spur the rural non-farm sector, it will also help increase the agricultural productivity.
The existing dual economies
The dual economy model does draw sweeping conclusions which may not be applicable to all developing countries alike. But take for instance in case of Maharashtra where it is of great use to observe a dual economy, with the financial capital of the country- your very own Bombay as well as the highest levels of malnourishment in the country- Nandurbar district being just a few 100 kilometres apart. There is a greater emphasis on enhancing the capabilities of the village.
The scope for Social entrepreneurship is immense but the risk isn’t that of the interventionists, it is to a large extent that of the community involved. A community so scared of risk that a lifetime of drudgery and servitude seems better than the effort invested in trying to find a way out!
About the author: Ishani Tikku, has studied M.A. Social work in Rural Development at Tata Institute of Social Sciences and is now working with the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission
Ten Questions to decide if you are an Entrepreneur
Note: Views expressed are personal and not meant to offend anyone
The fact you’re currently logged on to the entrepreneur’s e-mag Outbox, is enough guarantee to the fact that there is an entrepreneurial bug creeping somewhere inside you right now! And no doubt you want to know more about how it can help you. Yet, you’re constantly filled with doubts as to whether or not you can be an entrepreneur. It’s time to stop wondering! Score yourself on the following ten questions and discover the real you.
Are you uncomfortable with the status quo?
Do you constantly feel an urge to change the world around you or are you happy with the way things are in your life and surroundings? If you’re happy with how everything has been done by God and men, can adjust easily everywhere and see no need to change or induce changes, you are not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is a change maker. He improves things. He’s never satisfied with who he is and grows agelessly. He’s never satisfied with the condition he is in and improves it untiringly!
Do you spot opportunity?
Do you find yourself looking at empty spaces and spotting opportunities?
Are you a bundle of ideas?
Are you an inactive listener to your friends/family/work discussions or do you participate and come up with ideas sometimes, even if they are fancy? If you extend your imagination and stretch it beyond limits, only then can you find the entrepreneur within you. If you find yourself lying on your bed or sitting in your study, apparently doing nothing but actually thinking about a particular problem, issue or situation? If you do, you’re on your way to generating ideas and becoming an entrepreneur eventually.
Do you attract criticism?
A good way to find out whether there is an entrepreneur within you is to notice how many ‘people’ are criticizing you. Generally, all good ideas attract discouragement from ‘people’. Even though this is not a sure shot way, it happened to more than 90% of the entrepreneurs. Weigh their arguments, pay heed to the ones you find sense in, make amendments if necessary and go on with your idea. An entrepreneur sees things differently. People may not understand your vision and criticize you. But criticism is often a great help!
Do you ‘innovate’?
Innovation is a key to present day businesses. It is about thinking in new directions, exploring paths not yet trodden, stretching to a new domain and following up on it. It is time to ask yourself whether you do things the ordinary way, or do you make a difference in every small task you take up? A hundred and million people may be assigned the same project and yet, if you’re the one to execute it differently, come up with a totally new idea and be bold enough to implement it, you have innovated! Welcome to the league of entrepreneurs.
Do you have the courage?
Are you scared of change? Are you scared of mass opposition to an idea you truly believe in? Are you afraid of failure? One, it is okay if you’re scared. Two, do you have the courage to overcome that fear? Fear is in human nature but an entrepreneur is a natural fear fighter! He believes in himself to an extent that nothing can block his way once he’s seen his destination. He faces challenges with courage and approaches problems as a hurdle he needs to pass to be one step closer to his destination. Do you find yourself submitting to someone else’s wishes, just to take the easy way? Or do you fight it out, for the cause you believe in?
Are you obsessed with (formal) education?
Do you find yourself checking out the list of top schools too often? Is education all you think of? Is planning the next degree and the next and the next all that you’ve done in the past? Take a break. Education equips us. But it is not an end in itself! An entrepreneur attaches more importance to learning from experiences, observation, trials, etc rather than formal education. He knows it is important but only if supported by these other factors.
Thus, even though there is no age to be an entrepreneur, he starts young. He starts with ideas and education is only a tool that indirectly helps him build upon it. An entrepreneur might be a guy whose studying physics but can come up with a slum development model for a locality!
Do you relate to other entrepreneurs?
Do you find yourself watching the success story of a person who changed the lives of a few children with disabilities and getting motivated? Do you find yourself reading heroic stories of men with great business or social impact and idealizing them? Do you find yourself hooked on to Oprah and imagining similar life for yourself? Do you feel an urge to go out there and play your part? If stories of other entrepreneurs make you look at yourself doing the same things a few years down the line, then start planning. An entrepreneur makes dreams come true!
Are you convinced easily?
Do you ask a lot of questions before agreeing to something or someone or are you easily convinced? An entrepreneur has a clear idea of what he wants. He’s seldom confused by others or manipulated. He puts forward his view point and is ready to row the boat even against the flow of the waters. He’s not stubborn; he is assertive. He’s not hard to get along with; he’s ruled by his own principles.
Do you do more than just dream?
It is easy to dream, idealize, imagine and generate ideas than it is to repaint the world. An entrepreneur never sits back. So even if your answer to the above questions is positive, it does not make you an entrepreneur unless you start planning for it and acting on it. It is said, anyone can put on slippers but it takes a lot to carpet the whole world. The entrepreneur acts on his ideas. He is the change he wants to see in the world!
Less Plastic More Life
It isn’t hard to find examples of antagonism between educational qualifications and one’s dream in life. What makes entrepreneurs different is that they face this mismatch with courage and take a less travelled path.
Vinod Lal Heera Eshwer, the man behind the green mass movement, and a polymer engineer by training, explains, “Although, I graduated with a distinction, I swore never to use any of my knowledge to produce any more of the hazardous stuff. I always dreamed of finding a way of recycling plastic to clear the whole plastic mess. But destiny decided I was better off as an advertising copywriter. So I joined the Advertising industry.
Nine years later I found myself as a creative director with the lingering urge to do something about the plastic mess. So I created a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of using plastic bags. This campaign was spread across the internet, outdoor, posters and print. However, it wouldn’t have seen the light of day if not for the support of my colleague Ramesh who art-directed the entire campaign, Dipen Sagar, a tech genius who created the website, Senthil, a photographer who shot the campaign images, Vimalkirti Deshmukh and Priya, two art directors who did the groundwork. Needless to say, all their services were rendered free of cost and voluntarily. My involvement was that I authored the campaign and was persistent enough to get everybody to make this happen!”
The Journey so far
The main idea was to raise awareness among people who were completely unaware of ‘the blood they were getting on their hands every time they accepted plastic bags for convenience’. He adds, “We wanted them to pause and think. We wanted them to consider making the journey from plastic to fabric. When the campaign went live, we had no idea how many people would actually care enough to let go of the ‘convenience’ of walking into a shop empty handed and walking out with their stuff in plastic bags. Although, the results were slow, the message had many takers. The site tracker shows that people from across the globe visited the website and continue to do so. The traffic to the website is so high that Google offers the word “lessplasticmorelife” as a suggested keyword. We consider this a huge milestone in our journey to raise awareness.”
Vinod’s work has aroused curiosities among many who sent him queries on how to make the plastic to fabric shift quicker and cheaper, how to involve NGOs in the production of cloth bags, etc. “The press have been most generous towards this initiative and have provided us with media coverage. Obviously, for a cause like this that’s most often conveniently brushed under the carpet, it is most welcome as it helps spread the word.” He smiles and quickly adds a ‘thank you in advance to Dhriiti.
Message to the youth for setting up any green business/social enterprise
“If we wish to truly reach out and make a change, we need to first be that change. Be clear about what you want and why you are doing whatever you’ve chosen.
The second quality is the resilience to face naysayers, critics and pessimists who’ll keep telling you that it’s not worth it. Ignore them. Walk to the beat of the drummer in your own heart. And keep walking. You are bound to succeed.
Another thing I’ve learned from creating communication for lessplasticmorelife, waterforfree.org and treesforfree is that we have to resist the urge to come across as being” holier than thou”. We have to stop sounding preachy. If we wish to make a change we need to connect with the masses in their own lingo but not necessarily on their terms. We have to package our message in a contemporary manner. We have to sound like a friend.
Next, don’t get drowned by information overload. The solutions to the most complex issues are always simple. So learn to identify the simple answers.
Don’t think too much! If you keep second guessing what others will think and so on, you’ll never get around to doing anything.
About the author: Unnati Narang is a graduate from SRCC and a serial entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of www.serenewoods.com and 440 Hertz
Enterprises that continue to do things the way they have been doing them in the past soon become history! Innovation is the key to continued success of any enterprise which strives to meet the inarticulate needs of the existing market.
The business life cycle includes inception, introduction, growth maturity, decline and exit. In the inception and introduction stage, an entrepreneur toys with business ideas, their feasibility, business models, their launch etc. It is at the growth stage that new challenges start to surface. One of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs is how to constantly innovate and not get stagnant.
Authors of the bestseller Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, summarize their findings from 3M and provide key takeaways to drive Innovation at an enterprise:
“Give it a try–and quick!” – Essentially echoing on having a process to try out a lot of stuff, and keeping what really works. The key here is to do something. Keep on trying something new.
“Accept that mistakes will be made.” – Learn from the mistakes quickly, and move on. Failures are part of what leads to innovations. Don’t repeat the same mistakes though.
“Take small steps.” – Experiment, but on a small scale. When something looks promising, go all out and seize the opportunity. This way one can do plenty of inexpensive experiments that create a funnel of would-be innovations.
“Give people the room they need.” – Without entrepreneurship, there is no experiment. Without experiment there is no success or failure. Create time and room to experiment.
Overcoming resistance to innovation
Its human nature to resist change. The strength of habit associated with existing behaviour and the myriad risks of adopting an innovation are the most common factors why people resist innovation. As an entrepreneur you not only needs to look for opportunities to innovate but you need to also understand the psychology of resistance to innovation to be able to execute your decision.
Most of the time innovations are communicated keeping in mind the people who embrace innovation. On the contrary, entrepreneurs need to communicate their innovations considering the ones who might resist! Hence while as an entrepreneur you aim to innovate constantly, communicate it to your employees considering their perceived fears.
When the perceived risk is low but sufficient change in existing habits is required, convince your team on the usefulness of the innovation and hence the need to change habits. Innovations which attempt to replace existing products fall in this category.
Radical innovations and technological breakthroughs like nuclear energy, videophone, birth-control pills are examples of innovations which bring along high risk perceptions. Here your communication needs intensive emphasis on negating perceived negative effects, inducing experimentation.
And there are some ‘No resistance innovations’ like changes in the fashion industry, which neither contain any perceived risks nor attempt to replace existing habits.
The Broom Broom Enterprise
Ever wondered how and where, one of the most essential cleaning equipment in all Indian households, the broomstick, is made? These were a few questions that intrigued me to discover an entrepreneurial potential in Meghalaya in the North-east of India. And at once I decided to travel to the picturesque state with vast expanse of broom grass plantations.
Meghalaya is home to a population of 2,306,069 inhabitants (census 2001) with about 5780 villages. The people in Meghalaya find their source of livelihood in agriculture and allied activities. The broom plant is a major forest-based resource for the farmers here and is distributed widely throughout the state of Meghalaya. It is commonly found on the hills, damp steep banks along ravines and on sandy banks of the rivers.
Set in a hilly landscape, Meghalaya is divided into 7 districts – East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, Ri Bhoi, and Jaintia Hills. The biggest advantage for the farmers in Meghalaya is the cultivation of broom-grass which is easy and requires less financial investment.
The broom grass can be grown even on marginal lands, wastelands and jhum fallow. Its cultivation can promote the sustainable use of fragile and degraded lands. It grows well on a wide range of soils varying from sandy loam to clay loam. The planting can be done by seeds or rhizomes. Some people also collect and transplant the wild seedlings for propagation. However, it is considered better to get quality seedlings from reputed nurseries.
The culms arise centrifugally during the peak growing season (April to July) and bear inflorescence (panicle) on shoot apex at the end of vegetative growth. The inflorescence that is about 30 to 90 cm long resembles a fox-tail and is used as broom. And this is sold as broomsticks!
Trade & retail
However, more than the botanical bit, what I really wanted to know was how the brooms ultimately reach its users. Do traders go to Meghalaya and buy it from farmers? What is the mechanism involved? How is the pricing done? With the rest of the economy, has this industry also grown by leaps and bounds? What is the life of people involved in this trade like? Is there an entrepreneurial spirit within them that constantly pushes them towards the better?
I got in touch with Bhaskar who runs ‘The Bhaskar Broom Company – Bamfoi’, about 50 km away from Guwahati. “Our Company collects brooms and takes them to Guwahati. There we sell them to the traders. After that it is those traders who supply it to the end users.” He also mentioned how the market for brooms is largely confined to northern India, mostly cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
Broom grass grown in the hills is made available to traders in a nursery at Karbi Anglong district of Assam, which are sent to Guwahati by small companies. Usually traders purchase the produce only between February-April. A bundle of 1 kilogram of broomsticks contains about 3-4 sticks and costs Rs.20-22. In the off season, the same is sold for Rs.30-40. To the small and marginalized farmers broom cultivation is an economic activity that sustains their seasonal livelihoods.
Marketing broom grass is easy since Meghalaya offers a vast linkage of all the villages to the wider regional or national market through their local market. In the months of December, January and February these local markets are flooded with broom sticks and the middlemen are the potential buyers. Earlier there used to be no fixed price and it was dependent completely on the price quoted by the middlemen. Now that the market has developed, a stronger framework is used.
“We take the grass from here and get them tied into brooms in Shillong. After that they go to households all over the country” says, a trader. Thus, value-addition of binding tufts of broomstick into an easily usable broom for sweeping floors and dusting ceilings, etc happens elsewhere.
Leading to national growth
Activities such as cultivation of broom grass on a large scale, if promoted not only help in regional development and providing employment but also contribute to the national growth on the whole. Although the cultivation of Thysanolaena maxima (broom grass) is largely unorganized, it grows in the wild on the hillsides, traders confidently make the sweeping statement that Meghalaya is easily the jharu capital of India. Agrees P.S. Nongbri, a Shillong-based forest officer who had prepared a report in 1995 on broomstick production and how it could be improved.
Mizoram Forest Produce Marketing Agency (MIFMA) purchases broomsticks at Vairengte on the Mizoram-Assam border are in turn sold to Shree Shyam Trading Company, New Delhi and the North East Regional Marketing Corporation, Govt. of India Enterprise, Guwahati.
According to MIFMA, Rs.3 crores have already been used to purchase these broomsticks and some families have received incomes of up to Rs.3 lakhs from their sales.
Apart from the MIFMA, the major change that took place happened after the Meghalaya Forest Department took these brooms to international trade fairs – a trade fair in Delhi in 1994 received an overwhelming response! Country-wide enquiries came along and by the following year, the price of a quintal of broom grass shot up from Rs.1,100-Rs.3,000. Even though the middlemen take a huge part of this revenue, they get about 60% of the price even which fetches the average household Rs.6,000-Rs.7,000 a year as additional income. The Meghalaya government decided to promote the plantation of broom grass in 1995. The scheme, from all accounts, has met with great success.
Efforts from NABARD
Even on the banking and finance front, there have been commendable efforts. For instance, The National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD), the Apex level National Bank in the field of Agriculture & Rural Development established on 12 July 1982 announced some favourable policy initiatives for the North-East India especially Mizoram.
It went one step further with its SHG (Self-help group) linkage programme which involves linking such groups to the formal banking system by sanctioning Rs.10.90 lakh to NGOs and banks for promotion and credit linking of more number of SHGs in the days to come. 9 Farmers Clubs have so far been formed and assisted with active participation of NGOs and bankers in the State. Further, grant assistance aggregating to Rs.8.81 lakh was provided to various NGOs for conduct of 15 Skill Development Programmes in various activities. These included broom processing and broom-making in addition to other trades like candle-making, tailoring, jam & pickle making, jute & handicraft, bamboo basket weaving, etc. These programmes have benefited 393 participants to provide self-employment.
The farmers of the North-east, the traders and the middlemen are part of an industry that poses a huge business opportunity. It continues to define the lives of a large segment of India, as they learn to recognize its benefits not only for themselves and their customers, but for the environment as well.
Top 5 WRONG Reasons to become an Entrepreneur
1. I hate my boss!
Despite what a pathetic, low-life, blood-sucking vampire you think your boss is, she/he should not be the reason you give up your job and go on your own! Never try to get away from people – that’s what escapists do. There are stories about how people hate their ‘bosses’ worldwide, but think about it – you too are someone’s boss and are you being hated too?
2. I hate my job!
Now, this one’s interesting. If you hate your job because the work does not appeal to you, you should for sure do something else – or even change your role within the organization. But if you hate you job because HARD WORK does not appeal to you, and you want to quit just to laze around, you’re certainly in for some surprise. If you could not manage a small role in a large organization, how do you expect to lead an enterprise/business?
3. I want to make loads of money!
There’s nothing wrong in thinking that way. The only problem is, if you make that your singular guiding principle, you will never learn to care about your customers. You will never learn how to solve problems or to bridge gaps. You’ll never learn how to deliver value. And it’s better to be financially challenged than be high on pelf!
4. I want to make a high-value exit
All over the world, several entrepreneurs come up with a cool idea, work hard to develop it and then sell their idea to the highest bidder and make tons of money and sail away into the sunset, or play golf and drink expensive wine. My personal opinion on this matter is very nicely summed up by a quote from the recent James Bond movie, Skyfall: “I’ll leave when the job’s done” ~ M.
5. I want to be independent.
There’s an interesting quote by Tagore: “The boat which does not obey the commands of one rudder, is at the mercy of a million waves”. If you think no one’s going to shout at you, or ask you for an explanation just because you are the head of an organization, you’re wrong. As simple as that. You interact with several entities within your work environment – be it your office, or your business. And you will never be ‘independent’ of these entities. Teachers, farmers, salesmen, soldiers, washermen, CEOs, housewives, sportsmen, politicians, traders, artists, movie stars, shopkeepers – absolutely NO ONE is independent. Ever since humans started walking and hunting and going out to bring home food, people have interacted with others. It is this interaction that make up a society, and if you think you can get away from that, you may be disappointed.
Entrepreneurship is simple and difficult in its own ways, just like any other profession, or hobby, or pursuit. Make sure you have the right reasons to launch your own venture. What are some of these right reasons? I’ll tell you some other day!
About The Author: Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, Founder and CEO of ArtSquare (https://www.artsquare.in/) India’s Largest Online Art Platform
Bamboo – a ‘green’ option for housing
In India, the early bamboo architecture laid the foundation of the dome-shaped Mughal constructions including the Taj Mahal. Recently, India has seen a swelling demand for use of bamboo in the construction industry, leading to better economic conditions especially in the rural areas. Also the dynamics of supply chain management would see a change with increasing opportunities for small players and start-ups.
Increasing Business Opportunities for Entrepreneurs
The paper and pulp industry consumes 35% of the bamboo grown in India followed by housing at 20%. The National Mission on Bamboo Technology and Trade Development has assessed the demand for its various applications as 27 million tonnes against the availability of 13.47 million tonnes. The size of existing bamboo economy is estimated as Rs.2043 Cr. as against the market potential of Rs.4463 Cr. The projected annual average growth rate of 15-20% it is expected to reach Rs.26000 Cr by 2015.
Entrepreneurs must exploit this opportunity and use this natural resource to meet the increasing need for housing and growing pressure on land.
Bamboo could substitute as the main load bearing element in construction
Field visits to the rural areas of Jharkhand reveal that Bamboo is primarily used as load distributors on roofs with timber as the main load bearing element. Due to the long gestation period of trees and growing concern for deforestation, availability of timber poses a threat. With the spurring of construction activities in the rural areas under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Indira Awas Yojna and the likes, it is imperative that entrepreneurs at the grass-root level look into local materials to sustain such activities. Hence there is a need to investigate if bamboo could substitute as the main load bearing element.
Land degradation & acute shortage of bricks
Our interaction with Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC) officials also revealed that there is an acute shortage of bricks in the district of Ranchi itself so much so that the requirements of bricks for construction work under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is becoming increasingly difficult to meet. Against a requirement of 2,79,78,200 bricks in a year, the total availability in the district is 2,76,00,000 bricks. Thus if we take into account the demand for SSA alone the shortfall is to the extent of 378200. One brick requires 0.0204 cubic metres of soil, totalling to a requirement of 570755 cubic metres per year to meet the requirements of SSA alone. This has implications in terms of land degradation too.
Addressing global warming
Growing concern over the impact of increasing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions on world climate has prompted the world community to address this pressing environmental problem, thus the Energy Building Code 2007, was introduced as one of the measures. Bamboo is not only the World’s fastest and the strongest growing woody plant but is also an enduring, versatile and highly renewable resource. Its adaptability to different climatic conditions makes it one of the most important species for mitigation of the climate change. It has been reported that ‘Phylostachys bambusoides’ in Kyoto, Japan, has a carbon sequestration potential of around 2 tonnes per hectare. Agro-forestry has been found to be the most cost effective method of addressing the carbon emission and consequent global warming issues. By going for shorter gestation period species like bamboo, can be used as an effective mitigation option through carbon sequestration.
An eco-friendly housing option
Bamboo construction is also an attractive business area as customers are showing interest in eco-friendly products and the government is also looking for substitutes of timber so that the forest cover is protected. National Mission on Bamboo Applications (NMBA) was set up with a budget outlay of Rs.100 crores in 2004. Its core aim is to promote bamboo based products. Using bamboo for housing purpose is an eco-friendly option. When bamboo is used in houses then the carbon remains locked in the bamboo till the duration of the structure. The lesser the processing, lesser the energy consumption. The use of bamboo parabolic arches as load bearing elements is thus a ‘green’ option for housing, a growing opportunity for green entrepreneurs!
About the author: Smita Chugh is a ‘Doctoral Research Student, Centre for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi’.
Abhijit and Gaurav Parashar, ECPS India
Abhijit and Gaurav, entrepreneurs from premiere institutes – IIM and IIT, are motivated with a cause. Their drive to discover and implement sustainable environment solutions finds its roots in their student years. The promoters have a long background in climate change mitigation programs and campaign. As Gaurav puts it, “I am the founder of Delta Climate – the first campus sustainability program which is an enabling means to convert the IIT campuses sustainable; and Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) – a nationwide youth network of climate change activists. I have had long term interactions with groups like the Clinton Climate Initiative, 350.org and understood the dynamics of the green market. We have realized a lot of spaces where IT can automate processes and make them more efficient.”
ECPS was founded out of a considerable need gap analysis between the currently existing audit and consulting model which lacks in providing complete solutions to the Energy and Carbon needs of a firm.
The focus of ECPS
Abhijit and Gaurav have identified four key focus sectors, which are critical to solving the energy and climate crisis in the coming decade. These are smart motor systems, intelligent logistics, improved building technology and smarter grids. Talking about the enterprise, they add, “ECPS is strategically positioned to serve the market gap unfilled by the conventional consulting model which is unable to serve the non compliance energy and carbon markets, in particular. We believe that technology has the power to complement what consultants and auditors are doing in this market, in a more efficient and cost effective manner. Also, automating solutions gives us a big competitive edge in terms of scalability and customer loyalty over any on-site model.”
Challenges and hurdles
Just like any other enterprise, these young entrepreneurs have faced and overcome various operational and technical hurdles. In their entrepreneurial venture, the duo has consulted many mentors and guides, so as to make the most of their experience and fresh perspective. Abhijit, 23 and Gaurav, 20 confidently talk about their journey so far, “We are a start-up of students, with work experience in varied fields. We have had to work our way out to run ECPS along with our curriculum at IIT’s and IIM. We have to be very efficient in managing time so as to strike a perfect balance between work and the academics and coordinate well with the system. While building our product we have to be specific about providing high quality custom solutions. To overcome these problems, we have always worked as a team, understood the problem at its core and work towards the solutions in a systematic manner.
For operational issues, we have always been helped by the Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Bombay and the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay. We have always found our solution by brainstorming and discussion. For technical problems, we always have the luxury to consult our Professors at IIT Bombay and IIM Bangalore. We also are in touch with a network of technical professionals; we work with them on an informal basis.”
USP for the clientele
ECPS offers an out-of-the-box and smart IT solution to fulfill the energy and carbon efficiency needs of the clients. The enterprise mostly has corporate clients who use their software and products on a recurring basis. Gaurav discusses, “ECPS provides solutions which supersede the current offerings in the market. Our USP includes the following:
- Cost cutting potential
- Branding advantages
- Corporate valuation and Investor requirements
- CSR and corporate sustainability
- CDM potential
Our current revenue model of ECPS is based on recurring revenue, based on the services offered to our clients. We operate as a Software-as-a-service (SAAS) model. ECPS would stick to the same revenue model for the next couple of years.”
Message to the youth of India
Gaurav sums up all his lessons and experiments with entrepreneurship quite precisely in his message to the emerging entrepreneurs of India, “I have always believed that one can pursue his/her goals and aspirations with hard and smart work. To all the potential entrepreneurs in India, I would like to say – be sure about what you want to do and how you would do it and once you have made up your mind, hold no bars. The world is yours! It is a very good time to be India – to enable the lives of millions with your enterprise. The future looks very bright to me.”
In an interview with Abhijit and Gaurav, founders of Energy and Climate Productivity Solutions (ECPS), Unnati Narang explores the intricacies of their product based technology firm focused on providing smart IT solutions to the clean technology sector in emerging markets.