Start-ups & Entrepreneurship

Let there be light – Jagriti Yatra enterpreneurs

Light might be a modern world necessity for many, but unfortunately a dream for few. There are people in several rural areas of India whose generations haven’t witnessed artificial light. Considering our ‘junta’ and population in rural areas wouldn’t it be too ambitious to think it is another trivial problem that can be solved? Here are four of our Jagriti yatra champs – Kalpana Gite, Mithilesh Bhakre, Shrikant Ganjre and Ravi Ganjre, who think it is possible to address this problem!
As the challenge gets bigger, innovation leads the game. After several hours of brainstorming over chai, the team concluded that solar energy was a viable option. There were so many other options in solar energy, as they were clear on the target audience it was comparatively easy to choose the right product that caters the needs of rural areas and is cost effective. To validate their product, our champs did a survey in few villages and the reality check often sets the course of action. The team believed in taking one step at a time, so after spending some quality time in R & D they created a technically brilliant solar lamp which is cost effective and of good quality. That was when their Jagriti Yatra started in 2013 June. Team spent three months in experimenting around various materials and acquiring the relevant technical skills. After all the hours of insanity in the R&D lab, the team finally created customizable cost effective solar lamps. Then they decided upon something interesting- team first defined the values on which Srujan Services will operate in the mere future. One of the most important values was building something that will be of value to the customer, their objective was to create a product or service that is an answer to the existing problem. Indeed they have an answer; so far Srujan Services has successfully operated in 190 projects majorly in Maharashtra!
Building from scratch was the team’s mantra and they would have installed these lamps themselves if height wasn’t a problem. They work with only one person from outside the team to help them with installation. Kalpana says, once they receive a call from the customer they first talk to the customer to understand the lighting needs. Thereafter they decide on the product is to be built in the R & D lab. If the order is for more than 100 bulbs, they take the raw materials and build the lamps from scratch; Along with this, they also train the villagers on how to fix it if there is a problem. When asked about any problems while setting Srujan Services; Kalpana said that the team did face some challenges, and those problems have been persistent. But with the amount of interest team had in the subject it never seemed like a problem. It’s more of a puzzle and the team of four argues and at times fights over to resolve it. When questioned about profits in business, Kalpana said, “Each of our lamp costs 950 INR, after purchasing the raw materials we divide the money among 4 of us. However that doesn’t count much but more than money we are interested in increasing the customer base. We can earn 500 from one customer or 500 from 5 customers. We believe in the latter model.” In short she says” we don’t want money, we want freedom to work and experiment more “
Behind every successful company there is always a mentor who sets the direction right. And the man coaching the team was Atul Upadhayay. Kalpana says,” Anybody who has worked with Atul can never forget his humility “. And Ravi says,” the best part about Atul is, while he was helping us, he also made our team empowered with most necessary skills and made us independent”. Well! This is the passionate team trailing to empower villages with natural light. Let’s wish them luck.

Kalpana and Ravi are on their 7th day of Jagriti yatra. That’s the beauty of JagiritYatra, it not only bridges the gap between an idea and the business, but also provides an experience that could help one scale up their endeavor. At the same time these entrepreneurs inspire and add the more value through the experiences they share as the only confrontation of our ideas is the relevance in the real world.
Wishing all the Yatris a entrepreneurial new year.

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Sushma Kongara

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