Think free

From a company recycling carbon emissions into ink to another that has developed a self-driving electric-powered tractor, India is fast becoming a land of fruitful ideas. On the occasion of our 72nd Independence Day, Shrabasti Mallik speaks to a few startup entrepreneurs on how the nation is truly one of free thoughts

Idea

Technological jargon aside, these Bengaluru-based innovators turn pollutants from your vehicle into ink that can be used in printers and even paintings! Having developed a filterless technology called Kaalink, which captures ultra-fine carbon emissions from automobile exhausts and industrial chimneys, the company recycles these pollutants into a high-grade black ink called Air Ink. This ink, created by Graviky Labs, is eco-friendly, as its manufacturing does not involve burning of fossil fuels, which is required in the making of regular black ink. Currently, this ink is used for drawing, painting, printing and writing. The company says every 30 ml of ink it makes arrests air pollution equal to about 45 minutes of pollution.

India love

The brainchild of MIT graduate Anirudh Sharma, the idea might have been born in Boston, the US, but came to life in India. Explaining why they decided to base the startup in India, co-founder Nikhil Kaushik says, “Indians are open to new ideas and innovations, now more than ever. They are ready to experiment and invest in a concept that they feel will bring about a difference in their lives.”

Idea

The company has built a prototype of the world’s first self-driving environment-friendly tractor, which runs on electricity, saving both operational and diesel cost. What makes this self-driving tractor smarter is its deployment technology, which will geo-fence (virtual geographical boundary) a farm, to make sure the vehicle doesn’t go awry. The farmer can control it via a smartphone or tablet provided, to make it plough, spray or harvest. Named Hulk, this tractor is programmed to take quick decisions when faced with an obstacle. It also has a smart charging sense. It knows how much battery is required to get to the nearest charging point, and accordingly decides when to stop and inform the farmer in advance. 

India love

AutoNxt was started in 2016 by Kaustubh Dhonde, an electronic engineer, who chose to become an entrepreneur and revolutionise the Indian agricultural industry. He says: “The Make in India and Startup India schemes are making businesses attractive. Entrepreneurship today has become a viable career option. And I believe that with these schemes, which give more impetus to home-grown brands and help them generate employment within the country, India has the potential to become a land of startups by 2020.”

Idea

Based on the science of nutrition, this company is striving to bring 100 per cent organic food to our tables by offering a wide range of nutritious products, such as red quinoa, chia seeds, teff flour (gluten-free alternative to wheat flour), grains, millets, seeds and breakfast cereals (oats and muesli). The brand currently sources about 50 to 60 organic ingredients from thousands of farms across the country. This way, the company also helps farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices that enrich the quality of the soil and enable them to get better prices for their produce. These products are chemical- and pesticide-free and are certified by Indian, European and American standards.

India love

As Truefarm’s products sell like hot cakes on Amazon, its founder Ravi Jakhar is a proud man. He says: “Right now, we are living in one of the most dynamic times in Indian history and there are several factors driving India towards becoming a land of new opportunities. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today, because the way we buy commodities has changed. Also, quality education encourages students to become enterprising from an early age, which is supported by various government schemes.”

Idea

This e-commerce portal supports craftswomen in the drought-prone area of Mithapur, Gujarat, by training them in appliqué, zardozi, mirror work and chikankari embroideries. Started in 2015, the Okhai website offers handcrafted apparel and lifestyle products created by these artisans. What began as a small self-help group with a bunch of women from the Rabari tribe of the Mithapur district is now an apparel enterprise run by hundreds of local women in the region. Interestingly, the website also lets customers interact with the artisans, which in turn encourages the latter. At present, over 500 rural artisans are associated with the brand, and it aims to reach 5,000 over the next five years. Okhai is supported by the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development.

India love

Brand head Kirti Poonia believes India’s changing social fabric is behind  the success of the brand. “The trust that customers are placing in us is phenomenal. They support us because they believe that someone is trying to initiate a change. In India, you have the opportunity to develop creative solutions that will impact the community and if you do it wholeheartedly, it will find takers.”

Idea

Offering around 5,000 options from across the world, Mojhi is a one-stop shop for adventure travellers. The website is an aggregation of adventure options from 350 vendors across five countries, along with all required information. Customers can access a detailed inventory of tour packages from verified local tour operators across the globe, compare them with similar packages and book them online – all on the same platform. The Bengaluru-based startup was born in 2016 and offers bookings for adventure activities in India, Nepal, Dubai and Sri Lanka, and has users from the US, India, the UK, Japan and 10 other countries.

India love

The brand spokesperson, Viswanath Raju, says: “India is a large domestic market and economic openness gives significant opportunities to startups. An increase in the number of startups being registered every year and the rise in those valued over a million dollars are good indicators of this.”

 

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