Sahaj Trust

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” this is a quote from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is a very insightful quote commenting on how human societies work. Though there is a theory that relates this quote to statistics, I have always thought it to convey that we as a society always prefer to present a happy front, it is possible because the societies impression of how one can be happy are considered to be applicable indiscriminately. While unhappiness is something to be abhorred so we are free to be unhappy in solitude with any reason we want as there is no expectation associated with that emotion.

                The result of this behaviour added to a rapidly changing social and technological environment has not been without consequences. A study conducted by the World Health Organization in 2015 shows that one in five Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime, equivalent to 200 million people. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, a lack of awareness, and limited access to professional help, only 10-12% of these sufferers will seek help. This problem is much more severe in rural areas where people still assign the blame of unexplained mental illnesses to a displeased deity or haunting. Sahaj Trust was started by eight like minded individuals who felt it imperative that something must be done about this dire situation. They aim to work in Sindhdurg District in Kokan, Maharashtra.  Meenakshi, one of the co-founders of this trust hails from the district.

                She is a psychology student and is currently pursuing her Masters in this subject. For her, the journey started when her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She experienced firsthand the hardships caused due to lack of facilities and skilled doctors in Kokan for this field. She has endured the reluctance of their parents to accept that anything was wrong and the complications this had caused. She herself has faced Depression. All these experiences have contributed to her desire to help those in similar situations and especially those who have no means to get this; much needed help. She believes that family members of the patients need as much support and guidance as the patients, if not more. Thus Sahaj Trust tries to ensure that people have a platform to contact, to ask queries, to ask for help regarding psychological issues. They conduct annual programs, essay writing competitions open for all, lectures on self-discipline in schools, sessions on sexuality education and child sexual abuse for school going children, where they are thought what is inappropriate touch and to speak out about it, if they are experiencing anything similar.  The essays are generally on topics which relate to the emotions we never discuss or acknowledge as a way to express them to over selves first and foremost.

                Sahaj trust in addition to this has tried to spread awareness regarding mental health through street plays and Poster Exhibitions which pave way to group discussions on the topics regarding mental health welfare. Their efforts have so far been based in Pune and Sindhdurg. They started their efforts around 2012 and the organization is still budding. The organization has yet to get any government funding. They have no website so far but they respond to emails and phone calls in twenty-four hours. Their mission is to create mobile counselling stations for the patients and the family.

                I know, I had promised to come with a venture or venturist this month and this is clearly not a business venture but a venture nevertheless. Plus, I feel this is very important that, we as a society become aware of our behaviour and its results. Perhaps, if we shade some of our inhibitions and reach out to one another, we may bring about a positive change.

Sahaj Trust: During a such group discussion

Email:sahajtrust@gmail.com

Meenakshi:+91 94208 80529

                As this is December our journey comes to an end here. So what do you think? Have we found the factors that energise all these people and allow them to shift the orbit? Well the qualities that I found to be important were that most had focus, they had a goal and they put all their effort to fulfil it. They were focused and yet not rigid, when they saw that the current scenario demanded slight change of plans they obliged, they had the ability to see this demand and the foresight that the demand and overall technological scenario in their field were very important factors that were going to decide the direction of their journey. And most importantly they all took the plunge, well all the swimming lessons and all the gear is useless if you never jump in the water, aren’t they?

Thank you all for accompanying me on this journey. All the very best to you! I hope you have a very enriching new year, full of learning and growth!

Nodes

image2

‘Design Thinking’ is the buzzword in corporate world today. Design Thinking is an approach to problem solving which encourages one to look at the problem with an unencumbered brain.  It is a practice that saves us from making incorrect assumptions and helps us to see the problem more clearly, in order to provide better solutions. There is a very insightful story for conveying the gist of the what Design Thinking is and why it is so essential.  The story goes that some years ago, an incident occurred where a truck driver tried to pass under a low bridge. But he failed, and the truck was lodged firmly under the bridge. The driver was unable to continue driving through or reverse out, it caused massive traffic problems. Emergency workers were debating whether to dismantle parts of the truck or chip away at parts of the bridge. Each spoke of a solution which fitted within his or her respective level of expertise. A boy walking by and witnessing the intense debate looked at the truck, at the bridge, then looked at the road and said nonchalantly, “Why not just let the air out of the tires?” to the absolute amazement of all the specialists and experts trying to unpick the problem. When the solution was tested, the truck was able to drive free with ease. So in essence Design thinking allows us to be the little boy in our stories, who does not chip away the bridge when he only has to let out the air from the tires.

Nodes, is a Pune based Design Consultancy firm, that seeks to inculcate the design thinking approach in design activities on a nation-wide scale. I have interacted with Prajakta Kulkarni who started Nodes in 2016. In the past couple of years they have been working on a nation-wide educational initiative called as Nodes Education. This initiative is oriented towards making Design Thinking education as a part of any professional stream of studies in India by working with Universities and Government Initiatives.  Prajakta feels that the Design Thinking approach is essential for students in every stream be it English, Engineering or Architecture because, Design Thinking is not a process to design better products but to design better solutions.

Prajakta has completed her graduation in Graphic Design from MIT Design Institute, Pune in 2012. Even before that she has been engaged in working on various projects on innovative thinking. Her very first project was Internet Literacy project with Google and Inktalks.  She has worked with  D-Labs at ISB in Hyderabad, to put in her own words with a superhero team of designers, solving business problems through design thinking. She found such environment hard to leave. But her husband Sanket encouraged her to take the leap if she so desired.

Prajakta feels that the present day education system leaves us incapable of innovative thinking and is designed in a way to generate laborers rather than independent problem solvers. She feels that the problem solving approach followed in industries today is not always rational and often leads to disastrous results. There has been a stirring of dissatisfaction against conventional teaching practices throughout the world. We are realizing now, that we have been wrong in the way we have dealt with learning so far. In such times Nodes Education is striving to improve the way of learning in India.  She says that they have observed that there were some alarming effects of the Indian Education System on most of people’s core humanistic skills. It had shun curiosity and empathy among most of the people they were trying to educate. At this point she began an extensive research into design literacy among Indians, and it’s inclusion in the higher education system. She found that, there was a greater need than she had anticipated. Hence, they have set on a path to change this so as to enable students to build their own careers through their own solutions.

When I asked Prajakta about the challenges she has faced she says, “The stagnancy in the Indian Education system due to bureaucracy, where the system stands in the way of a even a greater future for the students of this nation is frustrating. These are the places where it feels like you are standing in front of large brick wall, that can’t be crossed. Luckily, we’re not just another brick in it, we have learnt a way to seep through the gaps like the root of a banyan tree.”

Presentation1
Quality Synthesis

Today, Nodes is associated with Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore(IIMB), Savitri Bai Phule Pune University, National Institute of Fashion Design, Mumbai(NIFT), Whistling Woods International among other renowned names. She works as an adjunct faculty in IIMB for the introduction of Design Thinking courses.

In her journey her rational attitude and the spirit of not giving up easily have definitely helped her. I feel her sensitivity, that moved her by witnessing the lack of awareness of a skill that can help many and her sincere effort to enable the new generation to acquire the same is admirable. This underlying belief and desire that with efforts one can change the situation for better is a very great strength.

As always, I will be back in December with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

AIRPIX Solutions

            Airpix Team

AIRPIX Team (From left Neeraj, Shinil and Aniket)

           The other day, I was reading this article ‘The Meaning of Technology’.  The definition for technology used here was, “Technology is the manipulation of nature for human purpose.” We are the generation who has seen Technology not only make human life easier but also play a leading role in changing the way we live. The things that were unthinkable a couple of decades ago are a way of life, today. Never in our past has the pace of technology change been more rapid. This makes us realize that there is a need to find use-cases where these new technologies can be use to increase efficiency or effectiveness of the tasks we seek to perform.

      This month I have interacted with Neeraj Waghchaure, a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from VJTI(Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai). He has co-founded AIRPIX Solutions along with  Aniket Tatipamula and Shinil Shekhar, both from VJTI. AIRPIX is a leading drone solutions provider from Navi-Mumbai, India. For the people who do not recall what drones are, Remember Joy’s Engineering Project from Three Idiots? Yes? That was a Drone. With articles like, ‘Drones are here to stay’ and ‘New FAA rules for drones go into effect’ it is clear that the technology is getting well accepted in the Industrial circles now and looks like, is here for good. Neeraj and his team had also come across ‘Drones’ during their under-graduate years. They were fascinated by them and participated in various competitions related to Drones and Robotics.

            Since the last decade there has been a high impetuous for start-ups in India. Thus Neeraj and his team felt like they could start their own start-up making drones. Neeraj and Aniket graduated in 2012. Then, they spent some months after graduating in Research and Development and started AIRPIX in 2013 with their college senior Shinil. They had initially thought of manufacturing Drones but decided to go for providing Drone Services to start off. Their aim was to built a start-up that added value to the Industrial Sectors.

            Initially, they found it very challenging to find customers for their services as the technology was not mature then, market was not open to the idea and convincing the customers was proving very tricky. So they provided their potential customers with demonstrations of the possibilities drone pictures could open up for them by identifying the potential use cases.  They made an in depth study of the difference, the use of their services could bring to the return on investment for their clients,  marketed their services and they started getting orders.

            Today they have created a network of around hundred drone operators in India. This helps them with projects all over India. For their client’s data security they encourage them to use their own storage devices. They have worked with Indian Railways, Help India, a NGO from Uttarakhand during the Uttarakhand floods, JSW Steels to name a few. Neeraj recounts their experience of working for Help India as being the most memorable. This project gave them the opportunity to interact with the locals and to see their services put to use to help the locals.  The drone-images helped the NGO design better strategy for their rescue missions and relief distributions to help the flood victims.

DCIM100GOPRO
Image captured by AIRPIX-Drone during Uttarakhand floods

AIRPIX has been awarded and supported by Indian Innovation Growth Program 2017, a program undertaken by Lockheed Martin, Tata Group and Department and Science and Technology, India. They are also currently a part of Airbus’s a part of Axilor Ventures accelerator program in Bangalore. They are also venturing into software product for drone data analytics and drone image processing in near future.

        This whole process has been exciting for the team and thought them a lot. Neeraj thinks that he has learned to work better in teams, to collaborate constructively by deciding each founders role, to make more practical decisions and how to adopt appropriate prizing models. Throughout this journey, I believe, their innovativeness and belief in themselves and their product has kept them going strong. The understanding that they needed to spend a significant time in research for their venture has no doubt helped set a strong foundation. Their flexibility in identifying the market needs and then catering to them instead of going ahead with their initial idea has evidently helped them create a place in the market.

As always, I will be back in November with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

Devmani

Climb every mountain
Search high and low
Follow every byway
Every path you know

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live

Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein Ii / Richard Rodgers

Climb Ev’ry Mountain lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC.

  Whenever I think of Shweta, this song inevitably comes to my mind. In this song, such a profound philosophy is advocated with so much ease. Shweta is essentially one such person on a quest to explore herself. Shweta Bhange runs her own jewelry business, ‘Devmani‘, each set is designed by her and is unique. She runs this business from her home and even consults people on what kind of set will go with their choice of apparel. She derives the most pleasure from the fact that each of her design is unique in itself.

IMG-20180923-WA0001

  Shweta hails from Kolhapur, Maharashtra. Since her childhood Shweta has been an intelligent child. Thus her parents were insistent that she pursue Engineering but she wanted to get admitted in an Arts School.  Thus she deliberately missed the dates for Engineering admissions, as a result she had to opt for Bachelor’s in Computer Science (B.CS) in Singhgad college, Pune. She then completed her Masters in Computer Science  (M.CS) from Garware college, Pune. She then got a job in a well reputed company in Pune. After a year or so she got an opportunity to go to the United States. At that time she was married and her husband had got an opportunity to go to Belgium. She decided to quit her job and to go to Belgium. There she worked for the European commission. She used to paint and even sold some of her paintings with the help of her friend in the Flea Market there.

IMG-20180923-WA0005

  The story about the start of this business is also very interesting. After coming to India, one Diwali Shweta gifted her sister with a set she had designed and made herself. One of the ladies who was friends with her sister liked it a lot and asked Shweta if she could make something like this for her. Shweta did and lo and behold her new business had taken roots. Over time she continued to do this along with the job. Just two years ago she quit her job and got into full time business.

IMG-20180923-WA0006

Today she paints, makes jewelry and is writing a novel. This novel is a Memoir on a life on an Old women who has overcome extreme circumstances. She has been translating Marathi to English and vice versa from a long time too.  In addition to all this she has just recently started planning tours packages. Her first ever such tour was to Leh in April 2018. I got to know her as I went with her on her second trip to Leh. It was an absolutely amazing experience! She has named her Tour Company as Travel Therapy. It  aims to encourage experience oriented travelling and self awareness and healing through this medium. This approach makes her trips more enjoyable as they are not just a checklist of places to see but every activity, every place is an experience onto itself. Shweta is always so full of energy and enthusiasm, it is  difficult to be anything but in her presence.  She is an excellent company to go on a trip as she has the ability to bond with every kind of person. She is planning another trip to Bali this October.

IMG-20180923-WA0002

  She strongly feels that our life is shaped by us and our decisions. In her journey she was plagued by many self-doubts due to her unhappiness in her job and other things but she persevered, took risks and even today has continued to take risks, this is what I feel keeps her enthused. Along with this she is surprisingly self aware and has the courage of her convictions to back her up in the face of oppositions. Her drive to explore both herself and the world around her is admirable and I believe the reason of her wonderful journey so far.

41820744_10215773223696903_2644431808191528960_n
Shweta Bhange

    As always, I will be back in October with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

Yolkshire

IMG-20180824-WA0016
Yolkshire, Aundh

    Yolkshire is a snug and stylish place in Pune where one gets to choose exotic egg dishes from an extensive menu. If we look it up on Zomato we see reviews praising the extensiveness of the Menu, friendliness of the staff and the quality and taste of the food. According to me Yolkshire represents the attitude that has helped Pune remain as culturally significant as ever while still being a home to a diverse populace. Saili Mirikar runs a Franchise for Yolkshire in Aundh, Pune. When I interacted with Saili I couldn’t help but feel that she shares this exact same attitude with Pune, the one which allows you to shade your preconceptions and embrace something new. Perhaps this is one of the reasons she has felt such connection with Yolkshire from the start. She has completed her bachelor’s in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Singhgad College, Pune in 2008. After completing her graduation she worked for ‘Atos’ and then went on to work for ‘IBM’. After four or so years of working in the IT industry, she thought to quit her job to start something of her own. She took an year to contemplate this decision and quit her job in 2013. While quitting she had given herself two years and secured a place for herself in IBM if she thought to go back.

   At the time her idea was to start her enterprise either in Food Sector or something Cynophilistic. She set out to explore the possibilities with this idea and little experience about how to run a business. So she worked in her father’s firm, Jahagirdar Aero Products, Ahmednagar, on a managerial post for a few months to understand the basics of how a business is run. In this period she traveled solo extensively in Europe and the US and she says that helped her gain a different perspective. The earnestness with which she talks about this part, of getting out of her bubble, of seeing a new side to the way the world operates and how it helped her with her endeavors, is enough to convince a person to take up travelling. She has even added a few dishes to the Yolkshire menu that she tried out during the travels.

IMG-20180824-WA0018
Saili Mirikar at Yolkshire

Yolkshire Kothrud, the main branch has been operational since 2011. Since then Saili has been their regular customer. Thus she was friends with the owners Varad Deshpande and Vinod Shastri. So, when she felt like opening a place which is warm, contemporary and provides nutritional diet, she couldn’t help but think of Yolkshire. She asked the brand owners about starting her own outlet under their brand. They were apprehensive about their image standards being upheld so she asked them to take her on as an Intern for three months and if after that they still had their apprehensions, she promised to let it go. She worked in Yolkshire, Kothrud for three months and did everything from cleaning utensils to book keeping and today she is helping the owners start a third branch in Pune. She started her own outlet in Aundh, Pune in 2015.

After convincing the brand owners, started the more difficult part of the journey, to actually start her own outlet, she needed capital. Determined as she was to not be financially dependent on anyone for this, after going through all the loan schemes available she selected the CGT-MSE, which requires no guarantors. She says it was only when her loan was approved that her relatives started to believe that she was sincere in her endeavors and started to support her efforts. Though being a businessman himself, her father believed that a good job will lend her a good lifestyle and thus was against her decision to quit.  All through this time filled with uncertainty and struggle she says her husband stood firmly by her side which kept her motivated. When I asked her what sort of problems she has faced, she talked about rookie mistakes she has made like renting a place with excellent venue and no water supply and then the more persistent staffing problems, customer relations, inventory management and demand uncertainty. A year and a half ago Yolkshire, Aundh were going through a very hard time so much so that she thought she might have to quit it, but her father urged her to give it some time and be patient. She says that she is glad she listened. She says that these problems are inherent to any business and if one aspires to run a business then one must have the patience and fortitude to sometimes solve and sometimes weather such issues.

IMG-20180824-WA0017
Yolkshire, Aundh

When you speak with Saili you can feel the love and pride she feels for Yolkshire and her satisfaction with her work. She says that the best thing is that the owners of the brand trust her, so she has more freedom than she otherwise would have had. Throughout her journey the thing I appreciated the most was her willingness to step out of her comfort zone repeatedly, her faith in her abilities and her determination to see through what she has decided no matter what it takes.

As always, I will be back in September with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

 

E-Spin Nanotech Pvt Ltd

  ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ is an oft repeated English saying. But it has no place in the life of a man, who is dedicated to scientific research. Innately curious, fiercely determined and an avid learner, Sandip Patil has literally stumbled upon his business idea in the pursuit of bettering his research. Today, a proud owner of E-Spin Nanotech Pvt. Ltd., Sandip Patil was a Ph.D scholar at IIT Kanpur, when he designed and developed a machine for producing nanofibers at a substantially affordable cost than were available in the market then. During his Ph.D in Chemical Engineering,  which he completed in 2013, Sandip had this idea that there is an economical way to produce nanofibers and he felt he can design and develop such a machine for furthering his research.

sandip--621x414
Sandip Patil, with his machine and staff, at the Sidbi Incubation Centre, IIT, Kanpur. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

For those of us unaware of this sector, a nanofiber is a fiber with a diameter of 100 nanometers or less. The properties of nanofibers have caused researchers to study the possibility of its applications in medicine, electronics, filtration and other engineering domains. This sector is popular for research purposes but has only a little standing in the commercial sector. Sandip and team are interested in using this technology to develop air filters. Currently, in this field HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorber but also sometimes called high-efficiency particulate arresting or high-efficiency particulate arrestance) technology is prevalent, but Sandip believes that with time and correct effort nanofibers can prove to be a cheaper substitute for this technology, at the least less specific purposes.

http://www.iitk.ac.in/siic/d/

http://home.iitk.ac.in/~psandip/

  With the success of his machine and the encouragement from his Professor Ashutosh Sharma (Ph.D advisor), he registered the company in 2010 during his Ph.D. Sandip has always been intent on pursuing his education, he left his house at the age of 6 because there was no school nearby. Born to a contract farmer in a village in Northern Maharashtra, which had no schools to registering his own company in Uttar Pradesh, his journey, by no means has been conventional. When I asked him if he did not find it risky to start a company after already investing so many years in his education. He said that it was not risky at all. He had yet to complete his Ph.D, so he had time both to complete his Ph.D and try out the viability of his business, if he failed he would apply for jobs and if he didn’t, well and good. This flexibility and confidence to face any circumstance that may come and change plans accordingly is a very promising quality for an entrepreneur, I suppose.

He immediately got his first order after registering his company from  IIT Kanpur. He believes that in this aspect he has been very lucky as it is quite difficult to get your first order as not many people are willing to trust you or your product. For completing this order he raised the money, by borrowing money from Professor Sharma, some of his friends and using his Ph.D savings. From this start, today he has a team of around sixty members and a clientele spanning across countries. Oniosome Healthcare Private Limited, Mohali, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, Prof. Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, from Department of Applied Chemistry & Chemical Engineering, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mme Soleillant Murielle from CIRIMAT- Universite P. Sabatier, France and Mr Leo Ni from University of Waterloo, Canada, to name a few. He believes, “The future is a mystery. Both good and bad can happen. One should not be intimidated by fear of failures. Think of innovative ideas and take the plunge.” Interestingly Sandip succeeded in his business venture along with securing ‘Shah Schulman best Ph.D thesis Award’ from India along with publishing several research papers and adding a patent to his name.

He admits that at the start he was all set to be a scientist, he had started the business with little idea of how a business is done. He says that even to this day his only source of marketing has been the word of mouth from his clients. He has now learned the technical know-how in the fields of manufacturing, electronics and design, this has and does help him in not being fooled by anyone. The most interesting aspect of Sandip’s business is that it is tailored for the research and development sector. They do not only sell the machines but encourage any physical modifications their clients deem fit to make for their personalized research. They often provide advice and guidance on the experimentation aspect to their clients as well. While we talk Sandip reiterates that he and his team do not wish to stop innovation to keep on manufacturing these machines, but they have continued innovation along the production. Sandip talks about his journey without being proud and without being falsely modest, but with the simple conviction of a man who has made the journey and enjoyed it. I believe it is very rare to be able to take pride in something without being proud, to me interacting with Sandip has been a humbling experience. In the end I believe, it has been his curiosity along with his innate drive to see, to understand how he can make his ideas into reality, his ability to hope and couple it with relentless efforts that has helped him in this journey.

As always, I will be back in August with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

 

 

Dark Reflections

Believe in yourself

And all that you do.

There are things you’ll create

That could come only from you.

The way you see the world

Might be your source of inspiration

But the way you interact with it

Makes you part of the creation.

-MS MOEM

     Don’t worry, I know I am writing a blog and not an essay. But I stumbled upon this poem and it is so beautiful, I thought, I might as well share. After all, isn’t this exactly what my blog is all about?

   This month I have interacted with Siddhi Shah. She started ‘Dark Reflections’ in collaboration with Guns Artwork Tattoo Studio, where you can find the best Dream catchers in India, Hippie jewelry, Hair accessories, Wind chimes and much more when she was only about 17. In addition to that she plays drums with various bands and gives private lessons for drumming. Her classes are called ‘Drum Core’.

siddhishahplayingdrums
Siddhi Shah at one of her performances

    I met her at her home, a very artistically decorated place, really. In her court yard, she has made a mural from shells and colours. The best thing about the mural is that it takes you with it. When I looked at it, I was transported to the times I have traveled with my family, it was a surreal experience. Siddhi credits her mother, who herself has an impressive Resume when it comes to artistic endeavors, for her inclination towards artistic pursuits and towards the tendency to experiment. From an early age she was attracted towards arts like painting and music. She says she was never very interested in academic achievements. Like most people in India she opted for science stream in her junior college(11th and 12th). During this period she got interested in Rock and Metal music, which had a significant influence on her personality. Her disinclination towards her academics got her parents very worried. She was given a choice, she either had to graduate or get married. She opted for an Bachelors in Business Administration from Smt. Kashibai Navle College of Commerce to satisfy her parents.

Dark Reflection official website

Dark Reflection Facebook page

   During this time she started Dark Reflections, where her prominent product is Dream catchers. She named it Dark reflections because, she is attracted towards dark colours and used them liberally everywhere in her creations. She made her products with the natural materials like Shells, feathers, and bones she collected during her travels. For her all her creations reflect on her journeys or her experiences there, hence the name. With the demand for bright colours in the market she has included those in her repertoire too. She is fascinated with skulls, she thinks that because most of the bands she followed as a kid had Skull logos, artifacts and stuff. She has gone as far as going to the butcher to get a goat skull and clean it to use it in her creations.

IMG_0435
Dream Catchers on display

 

   She has learned drumming from Swarnabhoomi Academy of music in Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu. She drums with bands like Reverie, Queens and Monks Inc. She has been drumming since 2009 and has worked for various projects like Egotrip Project(alt rock/experimental rock), Orcus(Black Metal), Quasar(Artist styles like Pearl, Jam,  Skynyrd, Ozzy Osburn) and many more. She has also played solo at various venues in Pune. In fact she performed on the 21st of this month in Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha, Pune for ‘Dumru’, which featured seven women percussionists. She was kind enough to play a piece of her upcoming show for me when we met. I am not the best person to comment about music to put it mildly, but even I had to appreciate her enthusiasm and energy. Playing the drums is a physically challenging task as well as mentally invigorating. One needs to use both hands and a leg in sync to produce music. Listening to her drum beats created a kind of anticipation and excitement which I have rarely associated with instrumental music. One of her most memorable experience was when she had been to a trip to Singapore and Bali with her parents. She asked the local band there, if she could join them for a song and ended up playing more.

siddhishahdumru

 

   She believes that we must accept that we are unique and we cannot be like anyone else, we have our own limitations and acknowledging them will help us in our journey.  She believes she had always known that she won’t be able to work in regular office environment and chose what interested her  as a means to earn money as well as enjoy her time doing it. She says sometimes the fact that after all these years she is still struggling frustrates her but she tries to not think too much about it and enjoy herself with her work. I found her willingness to try different things and unflinching self acceptance, even in the face of unconventional turn of mind, very admirable.

As always, I will be back in July with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

 

Sonder

         ‘Sonder’ this term describes the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. This is how Abhijit Shete has chosen to name his 3D printing and prototyping venture. He says, “As you realize that all the people around you have such different and vivid lives running parallel to yours, you also realize they have that many ideas, and I wish to bring these ideas to life with 3D printing technology.”  Well for him, it all started with his twelfth results when his dream to become a surgeon missed its mark by just two marks!  So he sought admissions in Engineering colleges, got admission for MIT (Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune)Polymer Engineering.

IMG_20180215_193028189_HDR
Abhijit Shete with the 3D printed souvenir for his friends’ wedding.

 For those who do not know about 3D printing, it is a type of additive manufacturing. Ever bought Udid-dal papads? The packet as a whole is of a cylindrical shape, isn’t it? Each Papad (circular) makes up a layer. When these layers are stacked one upon the other we get a 3D model(cylinder). Now, in 3D printing, we have the freedom to print each layer in a unique shape, to decide the number of layers for a certain height(constraint being the resolution of the hardware and software used in the machine). This is how we get a unique 3D model.  What is done, is this, a 3D CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) is converted to ‘.STL’ file and then divided into ‘n’ number of layers. Each of these layers is then printed one above another(using one of the many 3D printing techniques available in the market). As you might have guessed higher the ‘n’, higher is the accuracy. Advantage? We can make any kind of complex, intricate shape with this new technology, which might not have been possible with conventional manufacturing techniques. Moreover, this technology gives us the opportunity to make customized products, tailored to an individual customer’s needs and wants. It helps in bringing down the prototyping time and cost as well.

    After completing his Bachelors, Abhijit got an offer from NCL(National Chemical Laboratory, Pune), he worked there for around four years with exceptional people.  He had planned to further his education by going for his doctorate studies, but due to various reasons it did not pan out.  He had always wanted to do something different and impactful, around that time 3D printing was a new buzzword in town  and so Sonder was born.

IMG_20171104_135444249
3D printed Jewelry

The journey, so far has by no means been easy or smooth. With no experience in business management (having worked in and Research and Development in NCL), it has been an uphill battle. All the knowledge he gained on the matter was from online videos, blogs and books, which according to Abhijit’s experience, do little to help you in an eastern consumer-based market.  So, when he had set out on this mission, it was with an incomplete market survey (at least this is what he has come to believe with hindsight) and a mind, full of ideas and optimism. Now, with time he says, “I have learned to temper my optimism to realism.

IMG-20171118-WA0008
Lithophanes

His parents live in Nashik and both work. The thing I found the most amazing is that when Abhijit approached his parents to inform them of his plans, they did not try to dissuade him, though what he was trying to do was risky and especially so for a married, twenty-eight year old (specifically in our society if he is a man, even more so if his wife is earning). They said that they would support him financially for the next few years and he should figure things out in that period.  So thus with full support from his wife, his parents’ blessings and all of his savings, Abhijit set out on this journey.

He has now acquired all the technical know-how, to repair and modify the 3D printing equipment to the extent that his friends working with 3D printing equipment call him up with their problems; and has experimented with various polymers. He paints the 3D printed product for achieving different colours instead of using different polymer compounds for different colours. This strategy reduces inventory and helps combat market uncertainty to an extent.  Currently, he is working on Proof of Concept projects with Automotive manufacturers to bring 3D printing to shop floor instead of limiting its use to the prototyping stage. He is a regular supplier for mementos for NCL. His recent clients have been bio-medical device manufacturers for tools, implant prototypes and gauges,  an Architect from Mumbai for city models and some individuals for Lithophanes (3D photos). His experience and knowledge in the field of polymer science and engineering has come to his aid more than once in his endeavours and I suspect it makes the process all the more enjoyable for him. Meanwhile, he also has been working on in-house projects to design and manufacture gadgets to make life simpler. He plans to expand his business by branching out in various fields.

IMG-20170921-WA0007
Smart City Model

His initial investment has yet not evened out, but he has received an investment from a Pune based entrepreneur, who is renowned in 3D printing business. He has started getting interesting projects in the engineering, architecture and art fields; and is hopeful for the future.

As always, I will be back in June with a new venture or venturist, hope to see you too….

 

Lithos Motors

          On the first of April, Lithos Motors was abuzz with activity and energy as they made their first delivery of  self designed electric two wheelers to four of the ‘Faasos’ outlets in Kharadi, Sangvi, Undri and Kalyani Nagar(Pune). Lithos Motors, has been making electric vehicles and electric bikes for delivery boys since the end of 2015. This month I have interacted with Aditya Ganjapure from Lithos Motors, who has started it with his friend Angad Singi. It was a peaceful experience conversing with Aditya. They got to know each other while working for automobile competitions like Supra (An intercollegiate design competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in which teams of students from universities all over the world design and build small F1 type cars.). They soon discovered that both of them were deeply interested in automobiles and aspired to start something of their own. Then together they went on to make foldable electric bike as their Final year project in engineering and even bagged the first prize in SAE Western India project competition with this foldable bike, where the head of SAE encouraged them to commercialize their product. This has been a recurrent theme so far hasn’t it? All the people with whom I have conversed, already knew what they liked or wanted to do and were working to develop their skills in that field.

IMG-20180409-WA0004

Lithos Motors’ website

    Both, Aditya and Angad are Mechanical engineers from Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering, Nagpur. They came to Pune to leverage the wide automobile hub here and its expertise in the manufacturing sector for their business. I found it most admirable that they strongly believe in bringing electric vehicles to the market as a means to improve the air quality index in India which is deteriorating rapidly. In fact the name ‘Lithos’ comes from Lithosphere which these electric motors will help in protecting from the onslaught of Green house gases generated by the vehicle exhaust. This was a high investment project and so they pitched their idea to DTDC( Desk to Desk Courier & Cargo) and were granted 33 lakh rupees for their venture! Now they had the money, they came to Pune and rented a place. They hired four employees consisting of electronics engineers and industrial design engineers and they had a team of six. Now the challenge was to design the most commercially viable model and deal with the technical intricacies of the bike. They had to study all the technicalities involved in designing and manufacturing of the electric bikes as they had little experience of running a business. They went to Google and read various books. In fact both Angad and Aditya are voracious readers. They made many iterations of the bike models but could not get it right. The models continued to fail to be market ready or sometimes technically sound. They then came up with an idea to make bikes only for delivery guys. As they travel in only 5 kilometers radius to deliver, the major disadvantage of an electric bike which is slow speed does not affect them much and yet they save up to 14 rupees per delivery on fuel expenses, making them an ideal market segment for the electric motor family. This identification of an ideal market segment is very insightful, isn’t it? They pitched their product to organizations like Faasos, but they were running out of money and quickly. The situation was less than ideal but the ‘Lithos motors’ team did not waver. They could not pay their employees and yet two of them chose to remain with them. Aditya thinks of them as a part of ‘Lithos motor’ family. In this situation, Aditya and team conducted workshops in Pune to earn money. Their schedule was taxing. In the morning they worked on the bikes, ran workshops on go-cart making in the afternoon and evening, Aditya took on to answering answers on Chegg.com at night. Angad ferried taxis across the city. All through this never losing sight of what they wanted to achieve.

IMG-20180409-WA0008

        Aditya believes that every person has this phase in their life, where you feel like everything is going wrong, everything tells you to change the course, if you prevail during this time, there are high chances that you will overcome the situation and overcome they did! They designed a marketable model, but had no money to market it. They had approached Faasos and after two- three months of anxious anticipation, at last they had got their first order! Now the only constraint was money. They approached many banks but were turned down. They designed their own fixtures and got them manufactured from the vendors in three to four thousand rupees. They generally ordered their controllers from China, and they needed to order such a batch of controllers for their new order but they did not have enough money for this. In China, one needs to make the complete payment upfront to buy any product. And China had a major holiday approaching soon, and if they failed to place their order before that, they wouldn’t have been able to meet their deadline for Faasos. It was their first order, it was of utmost importance that it be made in time. During such a time Aditya had gone to one of their vendors for some work, where he met a person Pravin Jadhav, who on listening to their idea and current situation was willing to invest in them immediately. On this Aditya says,”God sends help in all forms.” Thus the controllers were ordered and the bikes were ready to be sent! I find the way they have kept working towards their goal through all odds very inspiring, their journey so far has been fraught with challenges and yet they have retained their faith in their product as well as their ability in commercializing it. The way they have approached all venues (legally available) to earn money without grading the profession is admirable to me. Now with their first delivery done, they are filled with new sense of achievement and are hopeful in establishing themselves in the ‘yet to come’ but ‘sure to stay’ electric vehicle market.

As always, I will be back in May with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..

Quark Experiences Pvt. Ltd.

              ‘Virtual Reality'(VR) naam toh suna hoga? Everyone who is working in the technological sector has at least heard of virtual reality, if not about it. For those of us new to this technology, Virtual reality simulates life-like, real world experiences for its users with help of props like head gears. Where most people see a new technology these people saw a new opportunity and leveraged it. This month I have interacted with Aditya Joshi and Quinston Pimenta. They have co-founded Quark Experiences with Suraj Saste. Quark Experiences provides engineering driven, virtual reality experience, to create tangible value for their customers. They registered their company on 26th of July 2016 as a Pvt. Ltd. company. In two years they have acquired many illustrious brands as their clients, Runwal Group, Pari Automation and Chitale Bandhu to name a few. They have a product as well as service based business, which is to provide virtual/augmented reality platform to their clients to run their business more effectively. Quark Experiences Pvt. Ltd. today is one of the fastest growing VR start ups in India.

               To say that it was a very interesting meet would be an understatement. Their journey is as interesting as their personalities. All three of them are from VIIT, Pune(Vishwakarma Institute of Information Technology). Aditya is from the batch that graduated in 2015, while Quinston and Suraj are his juniors. They met while working for  the ‘Entrepreneurship cell’ for their college. At the dawn of the year 2016, Quark experiences team had failed in two start-up attempts. It was quite a trying time for them. Aditya was interning in a company from 9am to 5pm, Quinston and Suraj had their college and examinations. During this time they came across Virtual reality as a business idea. Quinston who has a computer engineering background learned how to make a virtual reality application without having any prior idea about it. When they needed to raise around fifty thousand rupees to improve their product enough to be sold, Suraj and Quinston’s resourcefulness came to their rescue. Quinston teaches people to code( he has his videos on YouTube), so what they did was started a workshop, pitched it all over Pune and had sixty thousand rupees in two days! They bought the necessary hardware and sold their first product and they were in business. While Aditya comes from a family of self employed people and has always been encouraged to be an entrepreneur, Quinston had never thought of getting into business seriously untill this point. In fact, Quinston had a joining offer from a MNC and was fully prepared to accept it. He dropped his plans to join in on this venture. This belief in themselves and the viability of VR as business is both inspiring and encouraging.

Quark Experiences’ YouTube videos

Quark Experience’ website

         When they wanted to register their company, they had no money. A Company Secretary, Gayatri Pathak, got them registered believing in their ability to pay her back in the future. The way both Aditya and Quinston mentioned this incidence to me(Aditya has mentioned it in his blog as well) shows their appreciation towards this kind gesture. Such incidences fortify our trust in the existence of good people around us and make us hopeful that we might come across them too or maybe, be one.

Aditya and Quinston seem to have very different personalities and yet they are working quite successfully as a team by turning their differences in their strengths. They have divided the responsibilities among the three of them according to their individual interests and skills. They have even discovered some heretofore undiscovered qualities in this journey, for instance, Quinston believed himself to be a very antisocial person, today, he is leading a technical team for Quarks Experiences excellently and enjoying it to boot.

Their confidence and clarity of thought have amazed me. They mentioned a very interesting thing. According to them they do not have a stubborn emotional attachment to their business. They are into business to make money and to enjoy it, not to prove their worth. A very important realization, I would say. This outlook has been very helpful for them to be rational while making decisions. I found their perseverance and audacity especially laudable.

As always, I will be back in April with a new venture or a venturist, hope to see you too……..