‘An idea waits for no one’ – Meet IIM Kozhikode’s entrepreneurs
Meet entrepreneurs from IIM Kozhikode’s Class of 2013 – Samarth Wadhwa and Kumar Gaurav. They have launched a start-up Sun-Bazaar.
Describe your entrepreneurial journey. How did the idea come about?
It all started in the second year at IIM K where the craze for B-School competitions was at its peak to spice up the resumes for the hallowed placement season, when the idea of Sun-Bazaar came into being. How it came? Well we did a case study of First Solar during one of our courses and thus began the heated discussion with our friends regarding the prospect of solar in India that lasted close to 4 hours and viola by the end of it, the seeds of Sun-Bazaar had been sown deeply in our mind. Thus, Sun-Bazaar, the idea was sent to various B-Plan Competitions. Somehow it landed us in the national finals of various B-Plan competitions including making it to the national finals of Antyodaya the International Social B-Plan Competition of IIM Calcutta. This gave us the much needed confidence to actually start off with it in reality and that’s why you are here reading this, an idea on its way to become a reality.
How difficult was it to convince friends, family and colleagues about your decision?
Leaving a highly paid job to startup is always met with huge breaths, frequent arguments, emotional blackmail and tantrums and profound gyaan sessions. Ours was not an exception. Though we did face initial resistance from our families, they eventually did give in and then went on to support us. A professor from IIM Kozhikode coming on board as our mentor and advisor did help us win our families confidence that we were serious on what we wanted to do and meant business. Our families now are our major source of support not only financially but for morale support as well. A major chunk of our initial investment is coming from them and they are confident along with us that we can achieve what we set out too.
How has your MBA helped in this journey?
We would be wrong to say that MBA hasn’t helped us at all as quite a few other say. It is true that the principles and jargon we learn in a B school don’t apply as it is to real life situations. We need to adapt it and that is where most people start doubting the MBA degree. You need to ask the right questions to your MBA degree to get the right answers. MBA has given us the much needed confidence, exposure, the skills necessary to start up something new. Armed with our MBA degrees, we were confident of executing what we had thought out exactly to the T. It has helped us streamline our thoughts, evaluate options and execute strategies much better, in a systematic, well thought out and structured manner. And as a benefit, leveraging on your faculty network and alumni network does help a lot.
What career prospects and options do you see for someone wanting to make a career in renewable energy? What have you learned about the renewable energy industry, and about doing business in general?
India indeed is a land of plenty, having been bestowed with tremendous amount of natural resources especially sunlight with an average intensity of solar radiation of 200 MW/km square. With about 0.413 million km square available for solar installations this translates to roughly 8 million MW of solar energy per year, enough to mitigate our needs for coal. Renewable has a huge scope in India with the government supporting the cause of going green with its various attractive schemes. As the market develops further, we can expect discrete power packs feeding into smart grids, pay per use modules, REC trading platforms, the scope is endless. We are at a very exciting juncture wherein solar energy has started gaining parity compared to electricity from conventional thermal sources. With an increase in players in the solar industry making prices more competitive, Solar Energy is bound to find increased penetration. Sun-Bazaar is thus poised to capitalize on this change and acceptability of online platforms.
In general there is an increase in demand for skilled manpower for the renewable energy industry especially solar. Institutes have started to train people in solar technology, so much so that a few have actually started off with a engineering degrees as well. The renewable energy industry is growing and will grow tremendously in the coming years. The only concern, Indian renewable industry is maturing fast with more and more players i.e. crowding but developing slowly in terms of technological advancements or innovations. That is where new strategies like that of Sun-Bazaar and others should come into picture to try and change the face of Solar Energy in India.
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
The greatest challenge we have faced so to change the industry trend. Solar has traditionally been (In Indian Context) a B2B industry with very limited or nonexistent B2C presence. To change it into a client facing customer good, while educating and making aware the customer of its benefits is an uphill task which we will try and change slowly. By attempting to be the one stop shop solar, we have tried our best to solve the issue of sourcing and accessibility issue of the customer towards solar. To change the organizations way of functioning in the traditional offline dealership structure and retail to bringing them on-board this online platform was also a challenge in some cases. Though we were surprised to see very positive responses from few organizations and it certainly helped us in boosting our morale further.
What is your message for the next batch of graduating students?
Though we don’t have the necessary competence to guide students of the graduating batches as we feel there is a lot for us to learn ourselves, we believe that the following so called “Mantras” we have made for us would help the graduating batch in some way or the other. We call them BUILD, building on to achieve what one has thought to do:
Brainstorm: Bouncing ideas off your peers, best friend, study group etc does help a lot in streamlining your thoughts
Understand: Understand what you want to do with your lives. If corporate career is your calling go for it, else don’t compromise on what you want to do after understanding yourself
Imagine and Dream: It is often dreams or wild after party moments of eureka that transform into splendid business at times.
Learn: Learn all the while, anytime and from anyone. Learning never goes waste. Always keep your mind open, you don’t know where the next million dollar business idea comes from.
Deliver: Deliver what you have thought off. Try and implement it now, because an idea waits for no one. Execute what you feel can work out. If it doesn’t, you will be a wiser man/woman knowing what not to do in your next entrepreneurial moment of eureka.
Read everything about IIM Kozhikode here
Read everything about Entrepreneurship here
Meet the entrepreneurs from IIM Indore’s Class of 2013 here
Meet the entrepreneurs from FMS Delhi’s Class of 2013 here