In this column, we bring you the stories behind how startup founders got their business idea, and the things, events, and actions that eventually led them to their big eureka moment. This time, we feature the founder of an agri-tech startup and an entrepreneur who is on to her second company for guided tours.
‘We cut use of chemicals by 50,000 tons’: Anandbabu C
The idea: Jayalaxmi Agro Tech, app to provide crop information in Indian languages
Eureka moment: Anandbabu C returned to India from the US a few years ago as he wanted to “give back” to his parents and village HB Halli in Karnataka’s Ballari district. Anandbabu is from a family of farmers and realized that people in the village were using pesticides and fertilizers indiscriminately. He launched Jayalaxmi Agro Tech in mid-2015 to change this.
Getting started: Anandbabu and his friend Sivaprakash L created several crop and region specific apps in local languages to provide information about soil conditions, monsoon, and crops. Anandbabu, who has previously worked at Accenture, Cognizant, and Absolute Data Analytics, says, “The exposure to technology helped me bridge the connectivity and information gap in villages.” When Intel and the department of science and technology launched the Innovate for Digital India Challenge, they applied and were among the three winners. They later secured a Rs21-lakh grant from IIM-Ahmedabad’s incubator CIIE.
Now: They’ve built 25 crop and region specific apps in three languages, and work with NGOs and self-help groups to distribute tablets installed with the apps. In many villages, the apps are distributed by Canara Bank and HPCL petrol pumps. It has impacted more than 1.5 lakh farmers in the past year. “We have saved the usage of 50,000 tons of chemicals,” says Anandbabu.
‘I wanted to sell budget deals on guided tours’: Sukhmani Singh
The idea: Tripshelf, travel platform that connects mid-size tour operators with consumers
Eureka moment: Tripshelf is 26-year-old Sukhmani Singh’s second travel venture. Her first, SeekSherpa connects experienced travel enthusiasts who can act as tour guides for experiential travel with travelers. While building that company, Singh came across several mid-sized tour operators who were looking for ways to be discovered online. Package tourism is 98% offline and there are at least 50,000 package providers.
Getting started: Early last year, Singh and her co-founder Dhruv Raj Gupta decided to tap that opportunity and started Tripshelf. “Currently most packages sold online are by large aggregators. However, a consumer searches at least 15 websites before deciding on a package,” says Singh. Many people prefer packages when they go overseas because of the language barriers and food compulsions. Last April, Tripshelf raised Rs 1.6 crore from Gems Advisors. The platform takes a commission as well as a retention fee.
Now:It has now 250 tour operators and does about 3,000 bookings a month. Singh says the company makes gross profit on 50% of the packages sold and hopes to improve that in the next few months.