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.
Discover Kheyti, The Startup Changing The Lives of Farmers In India
Farming has been an integral part of India’s history and culture for ages. It’s been the foundation of the Indian economy, supporting millions of people with food and jobs. Crops and agriculture hold immense importance in Indian society, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of culture, community, and spirituality.
Farming is a way of life for many people in India, but it can be a difficult and unpredictable business and farmers face a number of challenges, from erratic weather patterns to low market prices for their crops. Kheyti is a social enterprise founded in 2015 by Saumya, Kaushik Kappagantula, and Sathya Raghu. The organisation provides sustainable solutions to small farmers in India, helping them overcome challenges and improve their lives.
Kheyti’s flagship product is the “Greenhouse-in-a-Box,” a low-cost modular greenhouse that allows farmers to grow high-value crops year-round, even in unfavourable weather conditions. operates on a subscription-based model, where farmers can purchase a “Greenhouse-in-a-Box” kit or sign up for crop advisory services on a monthly or annual basis. Kheyti.com also earns revenue by connecting farmers with markets and buyers, taking a small commission on sales. They work to keep the costs low by partnering with local manufacturers to produce their products and leveraging tech to provide personalised crop advisory services at scale.
They also provide crop advisory services to farmers, offering personalised advice on crop selection, planting, and management. In total, The company has helped over 6,000 small farmers increase their incomes by an average of 300%. You call them small farmers, Kheyti calls them Smart farmers!
While there are other companies in India that offer similar solutions to small farmers, Kheyti stands out for its focus on sustainability, innovation, and community involvement. It works closely with farmers to develop tailored solutions that meet their needs while focusing on sustainable farming practices. Through its efforts, Kheyti has improved soil health, reduced water usage, and increased yields of various crops.
Looking ahead, Kheyti plans to expand its reach to more farmers in India and beyond and aims to continue developing new products and services that can help small farmers overcome the challenges they face. With its commitment to sustainability and innovation, The visionaries at Kheyti claim it has the potential to transform the agricultural sector and contribute to a more equitable future for all.
Imagine the joy and hope Kheyti brings to struggling farmers in India. With Kheyti’s help, over 6,000 small farmers have transformed their lives, becoming Smart farmers who handle challenges and succeed. With sustainable solutions, Kheyti is not only revolutionising agriculture but also spreading hope for a brighter future.
Suki: This Startup Wants To Transform Healthcare With Its Artificial Intelligence Tool
We live in a rapidly transforming era where humanity is making exponential leaps in technology. Thirty years ago, no one would have believed you could talk to an online voice assistant to create tasks and get things done. Ten years ago, no one would have believed humanity would land robots on Mars. Technology truly has improved the quality of living of every human who owns a smartphone and has access to an internet connection. Voice assistants are slowly replacing manual tasks and making lives easier and efficient. Siri, Alexa, Google Voice Assistant are just some of the widely used artificial intelligence based tools which are employed on a daily basis. Artificial intelligence, which is hailed as the technology of the future is now slowly making its way into much more complex domains like self driving vehicles, quantum computing and also health care.
Suki, a United States of America based startup founded by Punit Soni, developed their own voice assistant which runs on artificial intelligence to simplify healthcare for doctors and other healthcare professionals. In simple terms, Suki is akin to Siri for doctors. While you could order a pizza or schedule an appointment on Siri, doctors could modify, edit and add health records of their patients. Suki is a powerful tool to help doctors with documentation of health records which often take hours of their (doctors) time.
Suki currently focuses on documentation but has the potential to expand its usage to data queries, ordering, prescribing and billing. According to a white paper published by Suki, using its technology increases the time a doctor spends with a patient by 12% by cutting note taking time by 76%. The time which is saved also brings in a financial benefit of $30,000 more in revenue a year on average for doctors.
Suki raised a $ 20 million Series B round from Flare Capital Partners, First Round Capital, and Venrock, doubling its total funding to $ 40 million since its 2017 launch. Suki is also looking to expand its reach in India and has decided to establish Bangalore as their base of operations. India holds a lot of potential for Suki considering the amount of manual work which goes into almost any sector.
It would be interesting to watch how Suki and other similar AI based startups would transform healthcare across the world.
The Story of Mens Grooming Startup Bombay Shaving Company
In the past grooming products were traditionally targeted at the female gender. However, with changing times and perceptions grooming is now a gender neutral term. Grooming is now essential for looking great and making a good impression. However, in a market which is traditionally saturated with products from FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) for women, a startup saw potential in men’s grooming products. Bombay Shaving Company, found the men’s grooming market in India was largely unorganised and was largely limited to just shaving products. Today there are products like body wash, soaps, oils, shampoos, creams and perfumes for men’s grooming and the popularity of grooming products is due to brands like Bombay Shaving Company, Beardo and Ustraa.
Bombay Shaving Company was founded in 2015 by Deepu Panicker, Rohit Jaiswal, Shantanu Deshpande and Raunak Munot who are all friends. It all began with Shantanu, who was a software engineer working for McKinsey in the United States of America. A chance discussion with a friend who was interning at Harry’s, a New York based shaving brand piqued Shantanu’s interest. The friend spoke about how shaving brands in America are challenging the likes of Gillette and PRO, which led Shantanu to the realisation that India could also use a disruption in the grooming space.
Shantanu then spoke to his friends, family and general consumers about shaving habits and came to the conclusion no one likes to shave because men hated the daily ritual of shaving. This led to the birth of Bombay Shaving Company. Shantanu soon roped in his school friend, Raunak Munot, who was the Director of Social Strategy, GroupM New York, and college friends, Rohit Jaiswal, the Head of Channel at Emel and Crompton Greaves, and Deepu Panicker, a senior analyst at McKinsey.
The team worked with world class experts and manufacturers about fragrances, raw materials and worked with chemical engineers as well as packaging innovators. The first five hundred customers were acquired purely through word of mouth. Most of their products are constantly innovated depending on customer insights. One example would be when a sizable amount of customers wanted the shave to be closer and aggressive, the team designed a new razor part and shipped it to their customers free of cost.
Secondly, the Bombay Shaving Company team wanted to give their customers a great unboxing experience and it worked. Customers began to share unboxing videos and pictures on social media and it worked wonders for their branding which led to an increase in sales. The team also gave users the option to get their names engraved on the shaving razors to add a personal touch for free of cost. Bombay Shaving Company raised $ 9 million in funding since its inception and now sells more than 40 products across four categories (shaving, bath, beard and skincare.)
Today Bombay Shaving Company has redefined the shaving experience and continues to grow. In January 2021, Bombay Shaving Company raised $6.1 Mn (INR 45 Cr) in a funding round led by a UK based consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser. This funding will be used to launch three new consumer brands in the market, invest in marketing and branding and penetrate deeper into the market, beyond the metros.
Let us know in the comments below if you have ever used any of the products of Bombay Shaving Company or plan to use in the future.
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