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How These Indian Startups Are Adopting Hydroponics To Harvest Fresh Produce

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Indian Startups,Harvest Fresh Produce,Startup Stories,Hydroponics Startups,Largest Population in World,Largest Hydroponics Facilities,Aquaponic Farm in India,Future of Aquaponics in India,Hydroponic Farming,Aquaponic Agriculture


India is a country with the second largest population in the world.  A majority of rural Indians rely on farming as a livelihood, making India an agricultural country.  Agriculture contributed to 16 % of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016 and as per 2014 estimates, 47 % of the Country’s labour force was involved in agriculture.  Indian farming methods are mainly traditional, which involve tilling land and rotating crops for seasonal harvest. However, modern techniques like hydroponics are slowly emerging.  Hydroponics aims to reduce water usage and produce crops which are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs.)

Two of India’s startups, which claim they are the largest hydroponics facilities, are Madhavi Farms in Bengaluru and Red Otter Farms in Nainital.  Both these startups employ ‘aquaponics,’ a type of aquaculture. Aquaponics combines aquaculture, which means raising fish and other aquatic animals in tanks and hydroponics, which is cultivating plants in water.

Working of an aquaponic farm

Fish are cultivated in a tank where they let the water pick up nutrients from the fish’s excreta.  This water is then sent to a hydroponic facility, where it is used to water the plants. The plants pick up all the necessary nutrients and purify the water.  This water is then recirculated into the fish tank. This forms a closed loop cycle where there is zero water discharge.  The fish and the farming produce are sold, providing two sources of revenue.

Viability of an aquaponic farm in India

Vijay Krishnamoorthy, the founder of Madhavi Farms and Anubhav Das, the co founder of Red Otter Farms, currently generate revenue through the B2B and the B2C models.  Given the amount of capital investment and the price of conventionally grown vegetables in the market, aquaponic farming is viable if the startups grow exotic varieties like Swiss chard, kale and mints.  Both Red Otter Farms and Madhavi Farms created a niche market for themselves by selling their produce to five star hotels and grocery supply chains like Bigbasket and Grofers. Madhavi Farms currently sells its produce to Bigbasket, Big Bazaar, the Marriott and Sheraton group of hotels.

Future of aquaponics in India

With hydroponics being a recent farming trend, it is yet to find acceptance in India and there are no clear government regulations in place.  While all the produce from these farms is organic in principle, the case in reality is different because the produce cannot be classified as organic under the present Indian norms.  As Anubhav Das from Red Otter Farms explains, “For farms to be organic, Indian laws require the crops and produce to be cultivated on soil, whereas aquaponics farms don’t use soil.”  Vijay Krishnamoorthy believes aquaponic farms are not a replacement for traditional farming but rather a substitute capable of catering to changing dietary trends in the affluent societies.

It will be interesting to see how the changing trends make urban farming and hydroponic farming mainstream farming methods.  Madhavi Farms and Red Otter Farms set the precedent for the future and a point of reference for other entrepreneurs who will be interested.

Read more about how this American startup is going mainstream with urban farming

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Six Innovations By Elon Musk

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Six Innovations By Elon Musk

Elon Musk is perhaps the boldest business leader, thinker and entrepreneur of this generation.  Elon Musk dabbled in multiple ventures over the years and most of them might seem like they are straight out of a storybook.  Elon Musk’s perseverance to achieve his dreams have paid off and he now owns several highly successful companies.  Elon’s ambitions are bold as he is determined to send humans to Mars, offer highly subsidised or free internet to the world and develop the world’s fastest mode of transportation with his ventures.  

We give you six innovations conceived by Elon Musk which prove he is a true visionary.

1) Tesla

Tesla is a car manufacturing firm which mainly focuses on cars which run on electricity powered by batteries.  The company name Tesla, is a tribute to Nikola Tesla who was an electrical engineer.  Elon Musk’s Tesla pioneered the concept that electric cars can look and feel like premium cars as well as powering their vehicles with powerful artificial intelligence which lets its drivers to sit back and relax while the autopilot does the driving.  Tesla cars are only sold online as Elon Musk believes a traditional dealership will have conflict of interests while selling electric vehicles.  Tesla is the first automaker that sells cars directly to consumers while the rest use independently owned dealerships.

2) SpaceX

Space X is perhaps the most ambitious undertaking by Elon Musk as he believes colonising Mars is the future of humankind.  SpaceX is also short for space exploration and has drastically reduced the costs of undertaking space missions as Elon Musk figured out a way to reuse the rockets.  Unlike most rockets, which are expendable launch systems, since the introduction of the Full Thrust version, Space X’s Falcon 9 is partially reusable, with the first stage capable of re entering the atmosphere and landing vertically after separating from the second stage.  This feat was achieved for the first time by SpaceX in December 2015.  A 2011 NASA report “estimated that it would have cost the agency about US $ 4 billion to develop a rocket like the Falcon 9 booster based upon NASA’s traditional contracting processes while “a more ‘commercial development’ approach might have allowed the agency to pay only US $ 1.7 billion (sic.)”

3) Hyperloop

Hyperloop aims to be the provider of the fastest mode of transportation on the planet.  Hyperloop is a sealed tube or system of tubes with low air pressure through which a pod may travel substantially free of air resistance or friction.  The Hyperloop could convey people or objects at airline or hypersonic speeds while being very energy efficient. In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of Mach 5 and above.  Mach 1 is the speed of sound which is 1234 kmph.  The Hyperloop Genesis paper conceived of a hyperloop system that would propel passengers along the 350-mile (560 km) route at a speed of 760 mph (1,200 km/h), allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes, which is considerably faster than current rail or air travel times.

ALSO READ: Five Interesting Facts About Elon Musk’s SpaceX 

4)  Starlink

Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by SpaceX  to provide satellite Internet access.  The constellation will consist of thousands of mass produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO,) working in combination with ground transceivers.  SpaceX intends to provide satellite internet connectivity to underdeveloped areas of the planet, as well as provide competitively priced service to urban areas.   

5) Boring company

The Boring Company is a tunnel services company and Elon Musk cited difficulty with Los Angeles traffic and limitations with the current two dimensional transportation network as his early inspiration for the project.  Musk claims the tunnel trip will take five minutes, compared to above ground driving which takes 45 minutes in normal traffic to go from LAX to Westwood.  These trips were planned to be implemented by placing a car on an electric sled and traveling at 120 miles per hour (200 km/h) through tunnels.

6) Neuralink

Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk for developing implantable brain machine interfaces.  Neuralink announced it was working on a “sewing machine like” device capable of implanting very thin (4 to 6 μm in width) threads into the brain, and demonstrated a system that read information from a lab rat via 1,500 electrodes.  The company is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence.  These enhancements could improve memory or allow more direct interfacing with computing devices at broadband speeds.

While some of the companies and their vision might seem far fetched, Elon Musk is adamant on making them a reality.  Elon Musk and SpaceX successfully made history as being the first private organization to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS.)  The entire operation from launch to docking at the ISS has been live streamed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was watched by millions from all over the world.  Neuralink’s progress was displayed recently as a pig named Gertrude had a chip implanted in her brain which tracked her neural activity and was publicly displayed to everyone.  

We at Startup Stories hope Elon Musk will continue to push the boundaries of science and imagination for as long as he can and make an indelible impact on humanity.

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TVS Motor Story : A True Blue Indian Motorbike Company

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TVS Motor Story : A True Blue Indian Motorbike Company

India as a nation has a preference for choosing a two wheeler over a four wheeler.  It is quite easy to see the Indian roads packed with motorcycles and mopeds zipping away and snaking their way through the notorious Indian traffic.  Almost every household has some form of a two wheeler at home which they use for travelling with whole families .  The entire two wheeler market segment is flooded with gearless mopeds like Activa, Jupiter and budget geared vehicles like Passion, Splendor and Victor.  There is a vehicle for every economic requirement in India.  

The Indian market is majorly ruled by Honda, Bajaj and TVS all of which have a plethora of models available for the market.  Let us take a look at the story of TVS Motors, a true Indian company which makes vehicles for the Indian sensibilities.

Beginnings:

T.V. Sundaram Iyengar began with Madurai’s first bus service in 1911 and founded T.V.S., a company in the transportation business with a large fleet of trucks and buses under the name of Southern Roadways.   This is also the first company to run buses in Delhi and with their large number of buses, TVS quickly began to rule the transportation market in Delhi.  After the death of Sundaram Iyenger in 1955, his sons took over the business.

Sundaram Clayton:

In 1962, Sundaram Clayton came into existence.  This company was a collaboration of the Sundaram company and Clayton Dewandre Holdings of the United Kingdom.  Sundaram Clayton started making products like motors, bike brakes, compressors and other automotive products.  For about a decade, the company was engaged in the same work , they were manufacturing automotive products.

In 1978, they set up a plant to manufacture mopeds at Hosur, Tamil Nadu.  They began with TVS50 which was also India’s first two seater moped.  Sundaram Clayton then entered into a collaboration with Japan’s Suzuki Limited as a joint venture in 1987.  TVS and Suzuki shared a one year long relationship that was aimed at technology transfer for design and manufacture of two wheelers specifically for the Indian market.  TVS Suzuki introduced many models such as the Suzuki Supra, Suzuki Samurai, Suzuki Shogun and Suzuki Shaolin.

After a fruitful relationship, the collaboration finally came to an end in 2001 following which TVS signed a moratorium for 30 months during which Suzuki promised not to enter the Indian market with competing two wheelers.  TVS was then renamed to TVS motors.

Recent Past

TVS Motors entered the racing bike category with the Apache model and the budget and mileage friendly segment with the Jupiter series.  In early 2015, TVS Racing became the first Indian factory team to take part in the Dakar Rally, the world’s longest and most dangerous rally. TVS Racing partnered with the French motorcycle manufacturer Sherco, and named the team Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team.

In 2016 TVS started manufacturing the BMW G310R, a model co developed with BMW Motorrad after their strategic partnership in April 2013. 

TVS Motors also has a list of firsts in India which is to be the first to indigenously produce a four stroke motorcycle.  The list of firsts from the firm include: India’s first 2 seater moped – TVS 50, India’s first Digital Ignition with the TVS Champ, India’s first fully indigenous motorcycle – Victor, and the first Indian company to launch ABS in a motorcycle with the Apache RTR Series.

TVS Motors is currently the third largest motorcycle company in India with a revenue of Rs. 20,000 crores.  With a strong history and a proven track record for innovation and its commitment to making the lives of Indians better, TVS Motors will only look forward to releasing more models into the market and become the market leader in India.

 

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Storage For Rent: This Startup Idea Is Seeing A Huge Demand During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Storage For Rent: This Startup Idea Is Seeing A Huge Demand During COVID-19 Pandemic

If you could travel six months back in time and tell yourself how the world would look now, you might have dismissed it as a hoax.  The world changed suddenly when the COVID-19 virus broke out and started spreading across the world.  The virus which manifests in the form of a flu before attacking the respiratory system currently has no vaccine.  This forced governments across the world and India included, to enforce a strict mandatory nationwide lockdown.  

The lockdown was initially announced in India for just three weeks and many businesses and startups never expected it to go beyond a month.  However, the lockdown is still continuing albeit with a few relaxations, but many industries continue to be badly affected by it as they saw zero revenue in the last three months.  Many organisations and businesses have made the shift to remote work as their offices remain to be closed for fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus.  

As software companies continue to declare work from home for the foreseeable future, many employees are looking to return back home from technology hubs like Bengaluru and Hyderabad so as to save money on huge rents in the metropolitan cities considering their offices are not opening anytime soon.

ALSO READ: How The Events Industry Is Impacted By The COVID-19 Pandemic

This is where a unique concept where companies offering storage spaces for long term rent is seeing a huge spurt in demand.  As software employees in Bengaluru are slowly vacating their accommodations to move back home in order to save on rental expenses, they have no place to store their personal belongings.  Firms like SafeStorage, Storagians, StowNest Storage and MyRaksha, which provide the service (storage for rent,) have seen a spike in clients and quotation requests.  Even some gyms and restaurants, both of which are yet to reopen completely, are offering their facilities for storage in order to reduce their own rental expenses.

ALSO READ: How The COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Startup Investments And  IPOs In 2020

These storage firms offer facilities like pickup services, CCTV monitoring and individual locker facilities apart from providing insurance coverage against theft, natural calamities and fire.  Ramesh Madisetty, co founder of SafeStorage, says “We have 13 warehouses with 1.16 lakh sq ft space in Bengaluru.  We have signed up for another 27,000 sq ft facility near Whitefield.  There is a 10x jump in enquiries due to Covid-19 , from 30 to 300 now (sic.)”

Another company named Storagians, which offers storage for rent in Bengaluru has already run out of storage space and are having to turn away customer requests.  Prasanna Kumar, founder of Storagians says “Unfortunately, we are turning down customers’ requests due to the non availability of slots sic.)”

The average monthly rent is based on the volume of goods.  While goods accommodated in 1BHK are charged a monthly rental of Rs. 2,500-3,500 and it will be Rs. 4,500-5,000 for 2BHK.  As more and more enterprising people are embracing this concept, many others are racing against time to get their own facilities up so they can offer storage space for rent.  This concept will continue to see a huge demand as long as companies keep working remotely.

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