Friday, October 28, 2011

Its all about Passion

Ever since i have started thinking about entrepreneurship and business, i have always wondered what is Entrepreneurship all about. There are many classical definitions and many many examples of great entrepreneurial activities. But one definition that caught my thinking is the famous definition by Professor Peter Ferdinand Drucker which goes "An Entrepreneur is one who creates wealth where it is not present". 

So an Entrepreneur stands out and takes the onus of wealth creation. An entrepreneur has to look for right opportunity, mobilize enough resources, manage the resources and finally deliver a product or service which can be marketed and affordable to consumers. 

There is a little risk in every entrepreneurial initiative. Every entrepreneur has to enjoy this uncertainty. I believe that an entrepreneurial initiative can be successful only if the entrepreneur enjoys creating something from scratch. An entrepreneur must enjoy the risk to be successful. All said and done, at the end of the day "Its all about Passion". 

I have been dreaming about Renewable energy, water security etc ever since i got the idea of a company. Being a nature and bio-diversity lover, having traveled a little bit in the country,  i am musing around the idea of a bio-mass plantation in certain waste lands and generating energy from biomass. 

For almost a year now, i am meeting people in the field, reading research papers on this subject, trying to raise resources and doing a lot of other leg-work. I am supported very well by colleagues Ajay and Kiran rao. 

In the course of our leg-work, as  it usually happens while networking, we bumped into a fine gentleman by name Sam few months back. He calls himself an "Energy farmer" . A 70 year old young man has already given meaning to the idea. A fine gentleman who earlier worked in a very senior position in the Indian Air force has started a company called "Energy Plantation projects india limited" in 2007. The company is based out of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu.  
We got a contact person in the company and they were kind enough to share a lot of details about the project. Last week we decided to check out their 400 acre plantation in a village called Natasankotai in Sivaganga. 
Our contact person in Bangalore was Mr Jayanth. He asked us to meet Mr Chinmay at their office in Sivaganga. So we set out for Sivaganga on the 19 of October. We left at 7 AM from my house in J.P.Nagar and we were in Madurai at 12:45 PM. After negotiating the hectic traffic of madurai, we reached the Plantation at 2 PM. We were greeted by a fine Young man Mr Chinmay Anand. One year junior to me in Civil engineering, after having worked in India for a while went on to do a masters in Australia. He has since returned to India and is managing this plantation in the remote chettinad town of Sivaganga. 

He took us around the Plantation. He showed us their research work. He explained to us with great passion their niche, their achievements and struggles. We very quickly struck a very personal chord. We soon started talking about how difficult it it to pursue an unconventional business idea particularly in the context of an urban middle class family setting. 
Nevertheless, their passion and perseverance needs standing ovation. A predominantly kannada speaking group venturing into the dry lands of rural Tamil Nadu, buying 400 acre of fragmented land from local villagers, encountering hostile villagers and yet converting this barren land into a rich green forest in a matter of 4 years is an amazing achievement. It is just pure passion that is the driving force for Chinamy and other three youngsters who were managing the plantation there. They have achieved a Bio-mass yield of 150 to 200 tons per acre which is impossible for even the forest department. Some of the trees were weighing 280 kgs with a calorofic value of 3800 KJ/Kg.
So we drove through the 400 acre plantation examining various species of trees. Chimany was generous in sharing the knowledge with us. 

After quite a strenuous tour of the plantation, we set out to an old Kalainar Someshwar Koil about 20 Kms from Natarasankotai. This is a huge temple with a lovely Kalyani. We were pretty much only people vsiting this temple that evening. Soon we were joined by a few local crowd. So the priest took us around this huge temple explaining to us in Tamil, the temple diety, its architecture etc. We were just nodding our head. 

Back in the Guest house at 8 PM, we were greeted by another young man Mr Avin. The guest house was an old chettiar bunglow on the outskirts of Natarasankotai. The guest house was huge and very silent. It was a huge building with 7 or 8 rooms and all other basic facilities. Built in the typical chettiar architecture, it was surrounded by other similar bungalows. 
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After a quick hard water shower, we sat down for a round or chit-chat. Being the only teetotaler in the group, i was only offered some lime water. Others enjoyed a smooth round of whiskey.  Over a few pegs of whiskey and lime water , we discussed business, plantation and a host of other things. I was just thrilled by these young people. Both Avin and Chimay have MBA degrees from foreign universities, both have had well paying Jobs earlier. But they have quit lucrative careers in developed countries and are involved in giving a shape to a start up company working in a hot,humid and barren lands of rural Tamil Nadu. This is the true meaning of entrepreneurship as stated by professor peter drucker. Thanks to the efforts of Sam, jayanth, Chinamy , Avin and few other people, 400 acres of land which was barren just a few years back stands out as a superb example of  green "Energy farm". 

The next day morning we took a small tour of the village. This village has some of the fantastic bungalows built in Chettiar architecture. This village was once the home of chettairs who are a trading community, on their heyday of business were trading with Burma,Malasia and other eastern countries. It is for this reason that most of the timber used for construction of these bungalows are called "Burma wood" or "Burma teak"  Today most of these bungalows look like haunted houses since most of the owners and their next generations are settled abroad. But interestingly none of the houses are sold and the owners visit the houses once or twice a year for a traditional festival .

We were then served awesome breakfast by a local cook there. Avin had to leave early in the morning to Sivakashi for a business meeting. Chinmay accompanied us for breakfast and saw us off at 10 AM. We reached Madurai at 12 PM but again could not get the darshan of Meenakshi devi thanks to just awful and pathetic traffic and infrastructure of Madurai. We left Madurai by 2 PM after a small tour of the city. 

It was a very educative and inspiring tour. I hope to create such an enterprise one day which will do good to society, environment, stakeholders and to myself. 

(Some Pictures of the trip are here )

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sunil,
    Needless to say this is a wonderful article...this does not only explain the passion about the people behind the energy farming, this also explains passion you have, which made you to explore so much deep and bringing worthful information into light... In the end you have said that its your dream to raise an enterprise.. well you must be knowing already that you are already half way through.. I just not hope but I am eager to join you and contribute wherever I can in your noble cause..
    Bravo... dude..Keep this spirit alive...