At the recent ET Startup Awards 2016, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari invited private enterprises and entrepreneurs to partner the government in recycling waste, which in his estimate is a Rs 10-lakh-crore opportunity. The private sector has the expertise and the zeal to drive such green initiatives and the minister is betting on the right set of people to take it forward. A number of Indian startups have been set up with the express goal of saving our environment and harnessing clean technology. These startups are working in various fields like waste management in urban areas, providing solar power to villagers, designing solar powered backpacks and rainwater harvesting solutions and much more. Today we look at 5 such startups who are blazing a trail in the clean-tech space.
This venture-backed technology company is disrupting the rural solar energy space with its pay-as-you-go solar-as-a-service model. To rural villagers who have not even experienced the wonders of uninterrupted electricity supply, subscribing to solar power was inconceivable. They were worried about the costs and were willing to forego the pleasures of light to save on the money which would be useful for more urgent needs. However, Simpa Energy India, a subsidiary of Seattle startup Simpa Networks developed a basic, portable solar home system that is simple to install and affordable to even poor villagers through their pay-as-you-go model.
After an initial down payment to install the system, customers can top up their usage through mobile phones just like a recharging facility. The innovative pricing model is called Progressive Purchase™ and has provided power to thousands of households who previously depended on unreliable electricity grids. Simpa has established operations in 8 districts of Uttar Pradesh, India
Calling themselves the new age recyclers, Deepak Sethi and his co-founder Kishore Thakur are reimagining India’s waste collection system to bring it up to international standards. Pom Pom’s goal is to help people understand the difference between wet and dry waste through workshops with schools, embassies, offices and any other large customers. For household customers, their website provides a pictorial recycling guide of all the items that can be segregated for recycling. Deepak believes that once people start segregating their waste then its management becomes all the more effective and one way to do this is to incentivise them.
Pom Pom started out in the South Delhi region in November 2015 and through an app respond to waste collection requests. Their app provides prices of various waste items, and allows you to provide an estimate weight of items you wish to sell and decide on a pick-up time. They also have a license to buy e-waste, which is an urban scourge, and dispose it in an environmentally friendly manner.
Lumos Design Technology Pvt. Ltd
The great outdoors are fun and relaxing but for our connected generation a constant source of power is almost as necessary as water. However, power banks can only last so long when you are on a week long bicycling or trekking adventure. This where a solar powered backpack would be so handy! Gandharv Bakshi and Lavina Mahbubani founded Lumos Design Technology Pvt. Ltd to design such amazing backpacks. The solar backpacks which retail between Rs.4,999 and Rs.5,999 are designed with a solar panel on the front which soak in the sun’s energy and also have a plug from which mobile phones, GPS devices and other USB devices can be charged, literally on-the-go! Available on Flipkart, Amazon and other e-commerce sites, the bags are beautifully designed and despite the solar panel, are lightweight and look good.
Over the long summer, we heard many harrowing tales of farmers committing suicides due to failed crops caused by droughts, village women and girls dying while trying to carry water over long distances in the hot sun and villages who have gone from lush countrysides to barren deserts. The value and importance of rainwater harvesting has never been more relevant. A Madurai-based startup, Rainstock, is aiming to bring the lessons of rainwater harvesting to the whole country and create awareness about its importance. Rainstock also works on projects to help villages, housing societies and others recharge their water tables. It provides advisory service and consultation on the same while also providing solutions on reusing and recycling water through bio-filtering and nanotechnology. Rainstock are also incubated by the Native Angels Network.
This company’s innovative solutions aim to pair mobile phone networks with low cost sensors to improve public health and the environment. StoveTrace is one such solution which uses a wireless thermal sensor that activates each time an improved cookstove is switched on and tracks cooking events and continuously uploads the data to remote servers in real time. StoveTrace data can be viewed on the StoveTrace dashboard which helps improved cookstove implementers track their interventions and pay follow-up visits to homes that stop cooking. The StoveTrace dashboard also calculates the amount of carbon mitigated by each household via clean cooking. Rural women who cook on improved cookstoves are then compensated with direct cash payments for reducing their household carbon emissions, enabled by Vodafone m-Pesa.
Nexleaf’s other solution ColdTrace, is a wireless remote temperature monitoring (RTM) solution designed for vaccine refrigerators in rural clinics and health facilities and is WHO PQS Approved. According to their website, it collects critical data and provides customizable analytics and report-generating tools to empower health workers, inform ministries of health, and improve overall cold chain performance.