Reminiscing Greatness: Catching Up with The Startups

63 kilometers away from the quaint town of Mangalore on the western coast of India, there was an unassuming little village, administered under the Udupi City Municipality. This small village barely even existed 60 years ago, but under the guidance of a strong visionary, the two founding institutions—Kasturba Medical College and Manipal Institute of Technology—evolved into the 21 college strong Manipal Academy of Higher Education we know and love today.

For a long time, it was just these two colleges that stood in the Manipal Valley but fast forward 60 years and this village morphed into a town and the few hundred students that called this Valley home tenfold.

As the saying goes, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong“, and most of the time we approach life with this nihilistic, world-end view; but in the curious student town of Manipal—we try and look at Murphy’s law differently. Maybe what Murphy’s law is trying to tell us is that “If anything at all positive can happen, it will.” and that’s the spirit with which an entrepreneur goes about his business, just the way we do it here in Manipal.

Gandhiji said that if you want to see change- you need to be the change.

For an entrepreneur, the desire for greatness is etched on the walls of her heart. Every waking moment of her day is spent so that someday, she may realise her dream. A lot of us might think that an entrepreneur is this mysterious creature that sleeps three hours a day and drinks coffee like it’s frooti; they don’t have time for anyone or anything, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If we want to see an entrepreneur, we needn’t even look beyond our campus!
Some startups here in Manipal have the potential to revolutionise the lives of students. The university itself recognises the potential of these ideas and supports them through its incubator, the Manipal University Technology Business Incubator (MUTBI). Ideas that we never thought would come to life were born here.

Digital Dhobi was started by Ashutosh Kumar Mishra and Chandan Singh, an alum of the Department Of Commerce. The idea of a digital Laundromat has been tried time and again but Ashutosh began smart, implementing it in a student town, a market that lapped up to the idea. His model stood out as he chose to use what was readily available to him and tied up with the local Laundromats, a scheme beneficial for the services as well as students.

Travel expenses take up half of our budget these days. The combination of a poor cab and expensive fare suited no one. When Mayank Sachdev and Tushar Raj Pradhan noticed the struggle students faced carpooling to Mangalore airport, they came up with the idea of Mighty Cabs. Their main aim was to prevent students from shelling out the overpriced 3000 rupee cab fare and provide pooled rides at a drastically lower amount.

Final year fashion design students from the Faculty of Architecture Sandra, Krishna, and Neha are three women with a penchant for great style. With their unrelenting sense of purpose and a deep commitment to the environment—they founded Synk. Through Synk they not only support a local Khadi industry but they also help create sustainable, biodegradable alternatives to polyester.

It was in 1991 that Rajesh Rao left MIT with an Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication and soon after, he created ‘Kraum and Spruk,’ a company focused on core electrical power engineering. Back in 1991, the market wasn’t ready for something this dynamic, and consequently, K&S underwent a lot of financial stress. However, there was a breakthrough in 2010, when the Government of Bahrain recognised potential and rewarded Mr Rajesh with a 20-million-dollar contract.

Necessity and circumstance happen to be the fuel which motivates us to find solutions to our problems; to create something and to make lives more comfortable.
It is this idea which has resulted in the existence of many companies which happen to play an integral part of our lives.

The struggle we face while booking bus tickets back home can be used as a great example to prove this point. RedBus, the online bus ticketing service, is the result of one such struggle. When co-founder, Phanindra Sana, had no other choice than to take the bus home during Diwali of 2005, he realised just how poorly designed the bus ticketing system is. Determined to make a change, Sana along with two of his college mates, Sudhakar Pasupunuri and Charan Padamaraju created an online platform containing all the information related to bus tickets and routes. Hence, redBus was born.

In India, most college fests provide the participants with a souvenier. Something to commemorate the excitement, and what better way to do it, than by producing T-Shirts?
Bangalore based Varun Agarwal used the idea of bulk printing clothes to his advantage. He realized there was a market for this business only when the 500 pieces he had done for a trial were sold out in no time. Thus Alma Mater was created. Today Alma Mater offers a wide range of customized merchandise for colleges all over India. Varun Agarwal managed to change the course of his life by being daring enough to put an opportunity to use.

Ritesh Agarwal had a tough time finding a place to stay in Delhi when he would take the occasional break from his Kota coaching classes. Inspired by Airbnb and passionate enough to find a creative solution, this young entrepreneur started Oravel Stays, a bed and breakfast chain. On realising the scope of this market, Ritesh researched by staying in over a hundred B&Bs, small lodges and home stays. This proved beneficial as within no time he received a 100,000 dollar grant from the Thiel Fellowship. Today, we know this vision of his by the name of Oyo Rooms.

The places to visit around Manipal have always caught our eye. With a ready market of 24,000 students available to him, Tanmay Bohra saw this as the perfect opportunity to start IndiaRides, a bike renting service. The twenty-three bikes with which he began this venture in Manipal is now a part of a collection of 300 odd bikes. All it took for him was to use the favourable environment that the town provides and take the entrepreneurial plunge to begin his pilot run. Today, Tanmay Bohra manages a formidable bike rental service spread across five cities in India.

Most of these ventures, today, form an inseparable part of our lives. We never realised their necessity until we were introduced to the idea. All it took were for these engineers to work tirelessly on one simple idea, an idea that created a solution for our day to day complication. An idea that changed the way people lived.

The idea of greatness is not something, that is taught withing the four walls of a classroom, but is something we learn through failure and personal experience. During this TechTatva, we reminisce greatness through these dreamers who woke up and acted. What makes these people stand out?

Is it their knack to notice everyday problems that needed to be solved, or was it the perseverance with which they didn’t stop? 

Maybe it’s a little bit of both. 

 

Photographs: Google Images

Featured Image: Ateeq Rafiq

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