The world is becoming energy conscious and is constantly looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and carbon footprints and shift to sustainable and renewable energy practices. Plastic is a bane to the environment, owing to its ability to adversely affect ecosystems and inability to decompose once it reaches a landfill or the environment. Single use plastics are a major contributor to this problem. A company called Ecovative Design is slowly trying to develop an alternative to plastics by making packaging material and various other products from mushrooms, which are a type of fungus. Ecovative Design was founded by Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre and is based out of Green Island, New York.
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre worked on their idea as a part of their university project during an Inventor’s Studio course at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They initially developed and created an insulation material using this mycelium technology and named it Greensulate. They followed this up by founding Ecovative Design. After winning $ 700,000 at an event called the Picnic Green Challenge, they went commercial by making a protective packaging called EcoCradle.
The founders claim they were inspired by observing how the fungal mycelium strongly bonded with wood chips. They realised they could use this resinous property to create a product which essentially left zero carbon footprint and is totally safe since it is organic. They chose a special strain of fungus which they left at a place for about five days, where the fungal mycelium bonded with non food agricultural materials and created organic compostable material. They finally heated the product to make the fungus inert. This material was then placed in moulds so it could be shaped into the requirements of the product. The founders developed products which can be used in insulation, protective packaging and structural biocomposites.
It is the aim of the founders that once the use of mycelium grown products gain household acceptance, they can replace the use of plastic and polystyrene. This technology is being studied by other companies who rely on mycelium technology and can incorporate it into their product design. Ecovative Design has a revenue model wherein they license their technology and offer it to interested vendors. Companies like Ikea and Dell use their protective packaging when they ship their products.
With Ecovative Design currently researching and creating products which cater to the apparel, food, textile and skincare industries, it will be interesting to see how these products replace non biodegradable products in the future.
Ather Energy – Delivering India’s First Smart and Electric Scooter
More often that not, innovations in India lean towards the e commerce or service sectors, with multiple startups springing up in these avenues. In a world which is increasingly becoming conscious about greenhouse emissions, carbon footprints and renewable energy, corporations like Tesla and Nissan are at the forefront of innovation to tackle the aforementioned issues.
However, a scrappy startup from India named Ather Energy is looking to change the game in the Indian market with their smart scooter, the Ather 450. This scooter is completely electric and runs on a Lithium ion battery. Considering India is the world’s biggest market for two wheelers, this startup aims to make inroads into the market by educating the public about the benefits of using an electric vehicle.
Ather Energy was founded by Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain in 2013, both of whom are alumni of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM.) Before starting Ather Energy, they worked at Ashok Leyland and General Motors respectively, both of which are automakers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Mehta and Swapnil decided to venture into the automotive industry with Ather Energy.
After leaving their jobs, the duo returned to their alma mater (IITM) to work on an efficient Lithium ion battery pack, which in turn paved the way to their first product, the Ather-S340. This vehicle had a digital touchscreen dashboard, a light chassis and the capability to reach speeds upto 75 kmph.
Funding and growth
Starting up in uncharted territories is no easy task and requires funding as well. The same was the case with Ather Energy as they had no resources to begin with, especially working in the laboratories of IITM. However, as luck would have it, Ather Energy received a grant of Rs. 45 lakhs from the Technology Development Board under the Department of Science and Technology, IITM.
Most of the initial funding went towards testing and funds became short once again. With investors not willing to take a risk with Ather Energy, Mehta and Swapnil turned to Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the founders of Flipkart. Ather Energy got its first major funding from the Bansal brothers in the form of a million dollar investment.
Ather Energy’s biggest break came in 2015, when venture capital firm Tiger Global invested 12 million dollars. This funding allowed the founders to invest in developing, testing, producing and launching their first electric scooter, the Ather-S340.
However, when the Ather-S340 was released in the market, it saw low demand, with customers showing interest in the Ather 450, a higher powered and premium offering. This led to Ather Energy discontinuing the entry level offering Ather-S340 and instead working on the Ather 450.
Hero MotoCorp, an Indian scooter/motorcycle manufacturer, was looking to make inroads into the electric vehicle industry. Therefore, the Company invested 30 million dollars to own a 30 % stake in Ather Energy and also to work on their own line up of electric bikes. This partnership is mutually beneficial as Hero MotoCorp can leverage Ather’s homegrown technology and participate in the electric vehicle space as well as pursue their internal program. Ather Energy, on the other hand, can utilise Hero MotoCorp’s distribution network.
Ather Energy also opened experience centers, which are basically spaces which educate people and customers about electric vehicles and also provide holistic interactive experiences. Ather Energy also has plans to open experience centers in tier 1 cities like Hyderabad and Mumbai. Currently, these experience centers are limited to Chennai and Bangalore.
Ather Energy also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tamil Nadu Government to set up a factory capable of producing 100,000 units of vehicles. This is in addition to the already existing 25,000 unit capacity plant operational in Bengaluru.
The Indian Government is also taking electric vehicles seriously and it reflected in the Budget for 2019 when the Government slashed the Goods and Services Tax on electric vehicles from 12 % to 5 %.
Ather Energy’s latest models, the Ather 450 and the Ather 450X, are seeing a lot of demand from customers, with steady pre orders rolling in. Ather Energy, with its smart screen technology which has regular Over the Air (OTA) updates, aims to enhance the user experience.
The Ather 450 has features like navigation, reverse gear, fast charging upto 80 % at 1 km per minute and retails at a price of Rs. 1,23,230 in Bangalore.
It will be great to see Ather Energy’s products on Indian streets as the awareness amongst the Indian public regarding the various benefits of electric vehicles increases.
The RAW Pressery Story -Juices Without Preservatives On A Shelf
Being a tropical country, India is home to unique and exotic fruits people all over the world have come to savour. Mangoes, ice apples and custard apples are just some of the fruits which are unique and found in India. Fruit and vegetable juices have always held a place in the Indian culture and civilisation in the form of medical remedies or coolers. From the humble lemon juice to the exotic mango juice, Indians love to make them a part of their daily routine.
Juices in India sold at supermarkets or retail stores always have preservatives added to them in order to increase their shelf life and keep them safe for consumption. A relatively new player, RAW Pressery, broke out on to the market by advertising their juices as preservative free and all natural, to take on established market brands like Tropicana and Real Fruit Power.
RAW Pressery was founded in 2014 in Mumbai by Anuj Rakyan when he realised there were no preservative free juices available in the market. Anuj Rakyan began experimenting in his kitchen with various juices and ingredients to come up with a product. After investing INR 80 lakhs from his own pocket and borrowing money from friends and family, Anuj was able to pool INR 1.5 crores to start RAW Pressery.
Growth of RAW Pressery
Once Anuj Rakyan was able to successfully develop juices, he began to deliver the juices himself to his initial clients. All this had to be done before any bacteria formed in the juices, therefore time was important. As his nutritional and fresh juices started seeing more demand, Anuj Rakyan employed the famed Mumbai dabbawalas to deliver to his clients in Mumbai. The juices saw their demand surging and before long, RAW Pressery added Pune to its market base.
Godrej Nature’s Basket and Foodhall became retail partners to sell the juices on shelves across their retail locations. Anuj Rakyan got his big break when investment firm Sequoia Capital decided to invest in RAW Pressery. A cold press was later added to increase the production of juice and also to increase the shelf life of products to 21 days. A cold press is a technology which avoids oxidation and preserves the nutritional value of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
With the growing demand, the product offerings shot from just six to eighteen present now and divided into four categories—Benefits, Basics, Boosters and Shooters. Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez was roped in as the brand ambassador for RAW Pressery.
Shelf life and beyond
The juices have a shelf life of 21 days and RAW Pressery makes sure the juices do not go to waste. Seven days before the shelf life expires, the juices are recalled to be sold at events while it is still safe to consume them. RAW Pressery also recycles their plastic bottles by collecting them from shops and homes and turning them into polyester fibre. This fibre is used to stitch school uniforms and distributed for free to poor students.
This is the story of a startup which, under the leadership of Anuj Rakyan, was able to capture the market with its strong and original products. Although RAW Pressery still has a large market to capture, it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Therefore, it comes as no surprise RAW Pressery saw its valuation grow from INR 5 crores to INR 250 crores in just under four years.
Cure.fit – How This Startup Is Revamping The Idea Of Fitness
Fitness is an important aspect which tends to get overlooked in the current age. With millennials reluctant to go to a gym or a park to workout and with the availability of fast food at the touch of a button, fitness is more important than ever before. With famous chains such as Talwalkars, Gold’s Gym and Reebok Crossfit already existing in the market, a relatively new player, Cure.fit, took the industry by storm and disrupted it by providing services none of the existing players provided.
Founding of Cure.fit
Cure.fit was founded by Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori in 2016. Mukesh Bansal is well known for founding the startup Myntra, which turned out to be highly profitable in the online fashion segment before being acquired by Flipkart. After the acquisition of Myntra, Mukesh Bansal took up the role of Head of Advertising Business & Commerce. After a stint at Flipkart, both Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori decided to venture into the fitness industry, which was at a nascent stage at the time, by combining technology and service.
The number of apps is increasing every day as there is an app for every small service. The founders realised the need for aggregating multiple offerings on the same platform, eliminating the need for multiple applications on a mobile phone and offering a well rounded approach to healthcare and fitness.
Cure.fit currently has 4 business verticals, which are Mind.fit, Cult.Fit, Eat.Fit and Care.fit. Cure.fit offers subscription models, wherein users can opt for either of the four offerings or all of them. Mind.fit offers mental wellness programs, Cult.fit offers physical wellness programs like zumba, yoga, weight lifting, martial arts and boxing. Eat.fit offers curated meals which are calorie counted to complement a weight loss or weight gain journey. Care.fit offers access to trained healthcare professionals.
The startup initially started out small and in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. It slowly grew by acquiring and partnering with multiple small firms along the way to grow into what they are now. The startup is now located at multiple locations in cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Pune, to name a few. Cure.fit also focuses on customer experience by integrating technology and human experience. For example, users can now book a time slot to attend their workout or order food online via the app. Competitive price offerings with discounts encourage their audience to opt for either a six or a twelve month subscription.
During the initial days of their growth, Cure.fit relied heavily on celebrity endorsements. It was easy to spot posters of well known Bollywood actors Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff and Indian cricketer K.L Rahul. These endorsements went a long way in cementing the position of their brand.
This fitness startup, which is still growing at a rapid pace, shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Cure.fit is making a visible change in how working professionals approach physical activity and fitness.
Read about how Bounce Bikes is changing the way we commute: Bounce : How The Bike Rental Startup Is Changing The Way We Commute
- Iconic Power Couples At The Top Of Their Game
- Best Valentine’s Day Campaigns Run By Famous Brands
- Ather Energy – Delivering India’s First Smart and Electric Scooter
- Fake Amazon App Takes A Dig At Toxic Dating Culture
- The RAW Pressery Story -Juices Without Preservatives On A Shelf
- Indian Origin Arvind Krishna To Take Over As IBM Chief Executive Officer
- Shuttl – A Startup Providing Comfortable Mass Commute Options
- Cure.fit – How This Startup Is Revamping The Idea Of Fitness
- Bumblebee Spaces – How This Startup Is Reinventing Housing Storage Spaces
- Impossible Foods – Achieving The Impossible With Plant Based Meat
- How To Increase Online Sales Of A Business
- ROLI – A Startup Pushing The Boundaries Of Making Music
- 5 Corporations With Bug Bounty Programs
- Online Food Delivery Platform Zomato Acquires Uber Eats
- The Story Of Live Video Streaming Startup Twitch
- How E Pharmacy Startup 1mg Changed The Way Medicines Are Delivered
- Story of Rovio Entertainment, Makers of Angry Birds Franchise
- 4 Tips For A Business To Increase Sales
- 7 Inspiring Quotes By Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
- How To Start A Business With Little Capital