Clean Tech, an untapped golden opportunity which will change the way the world lives. SSMUM, May 2011
Startup Saturday meet-ups have always been exciting. As an audience we see a variety of themes and learn many facts from real Entrepreneurs who have ‘been there and done that’. But can you remember the feeling where you go out with a preset mind and all your perceptions get thrashed with ideas and possibilities you could have never imagined? If you connect with such feelings you understand how much enlightening Startup Saturday for May (Mumbai edition) was. The theme was Clean Tech and thanks to the awesome speakers there was great food for thought to each genre of audience.
Talking about clean tech we start thinking about recycling waste to make something all commend but no one buys. We think about the climate change speeches, NGOs, corporate social responsibility and all. Is there a Business sense to all this? A remote possibility is all we can say. This was about to be tilted head over heels at SSMUM. The speakers talked about why clean tech is a golden opportunity to be grabbed and how innovative solutions are bashing our futile assumptions.
The first in the list was Professor Dipankar from Treelabs. Dipankar has been a speaker at SSMUM earlier. A small demo of a device that can be used for metal welding is all that he needs to prove the power of what Treelabs is doing. Multiple times smaller, light enough that even a child can hold it, no need for any eye protection cover- Do you believe this device can do all that? What if we say you can touch the device with your bare hands! Dipankar talked about how our pedagogy is incapable of coming out with more innovations that the world needs today. A simple machine like a ceiling fan works at a whopping 1% of efficiency and if this is the case you are clear with the kind of opportunity this industry holds
Post Dipankar we had Anirudh, CEO of Carbon Clean Solutions. Anirudh holds 2 patents and has developed a unique venture which helps capture carbon emitted in the environment and convert it by liquefying which can be later used for various purposes. Did you ever imagine you can actually capture the carbon coming out of those long necked chimneys and convert into a soft drink to serve! Anirudh even talked about the importance of execution with respect to clean tech. The best quote was a simple idea he said “A customer is the best person who can tell you what he requires”.
Next we had Nitesh Mehta from Newreka technologies. He introduced his thought process with the help of the term Enviropreneurship. Newreka currently provides value based R&D services along with in house developed products as offerings. Nitesh described how he kept on customizing his offerings and gave the best value when it came to clean tech to his customers. It was definitely unconventional for this industry. A low cost helps him pitch customers and then showcase the capabilities of his products, this way he is able to overcome the resistance that he initially faced. A noteworthy formula that he shared was Environment Impact Factor or EIF which simply means Kgs of waste / Kgs of product. He even stated that this variable is very high for Pharma products and a big opportunity to tap in.
With so many ideas popping and a huge crowd of idea hunters, the next immediate concern was about investment. Clean Tech unlike other industries requires good capital investment in the initial phases. Whether it’s for R&D or procuring fixed assets, it is important to be cash rich in the earlier stage. Here’s where discussion from Sarvanan Nattanmai of Neureus Capital was helpful. He discussed about what an investors looks forward to before betting on a startup in this domain. He even addressed several questions in the same context.
Post Sarvanan was Anuj Maheshwari (Eco Reco) who addressed issues regarding E-Waste management. The lack of proper waste management not only pollutes the whole environment but also results in permanent energy loss. It is an irony that while few of us are chanting the Go Green mantra, others still prefer to sell their junk to Kabadiwallahs who pay more than what ventures like Eco Reco or other startups can provide. We would have to think beyond what we are getting and look it from a humanitarian perspective. Anuj helps corporate clients recycle their e-waste, get the data from the recycler (either onsite or offsite) and maintain confidentiality at the same time. A field which has huge potential as norms are getting stricter in every nation including India.
Finally before a panel discussion we had Rajesh Roy from Eureka Forbes who briefed how companies like his are trying to put their effort in the area of clean tech. Simpler water purifying solutions that they develop not just helps providing clean water to villagers, it also enables SSI entrepreneurs who maintain these purifiers. From waterless toilets to usage tracking water showers Rajesh discussed how simple and sensible innovations can change the world we live in today. A very insightful and timely presentation to say the least.
The Panel discussion
Post all the speakers provided insights from their expertise the show concluded with an insightful debate between our Panelists. A slew of members including but not limited to Unmesh Brahme, Ashok Jain, Pratik Singhi, Karon Shaiva, Myshkin Ingawale, Neha Juneja formed part of the panel discussion with the audience. Questions as to why clean tech is not ‘really’ taking up, what can be the immediate action steps etc become very important when we start thinking about opportunities clean tech has? It was an interactive playground of thought, well managed by the host Atul Seksaria who kept the show rocking!
These sessions as I earlier said are the ones that completely change the way you think about an industry or domain. The show was attended by more than 100 people and it was good to have such a huge audience as Startup Saturday celebrated its 3rd Birthday in Mumbai this very month! Quick thanks to all the participants, speaker and volunteers from the HeadStart who made this event possible and special. Startup Saturday today has really become a platform for people to learn, network and benefit; Entrepreneurs and aspirants alike.
About the Author – Himanshu Chanda is a HeadStart volunteer and manages a business blog of his own.
A special thanks to Atul Seksaria for coming up with the idea and helping us reach out to the CleanTech community