Excelsior INDIA

Excelsior INDIA: Helping India grow through sustainable and scalable technological innovations

New Delhi, IndiaIndia
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are working on 2 projects:
1. We have built a solution for agriculture sector that increases yield by 30% and reduces chemical fertilizers consumption by 40%.
2. We have also made prototype of a device that converts the fine particulate matter from diesel engine into commercially usable ink.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

WHAT IF the most polluting agents in the atmosphere would provide us with the most valuable articles for daily use?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

1. India has a huge reliance on chemical fertilizers, most used being urea which costs over 2 billion USD to the Indian government in imports. 70% of this Urea is wasted due to improper application. Also the urea applied on the field forms a layer of salt reducing the fertility of the soil and also causes water pollution. 2. Delhi is the most polluted city with particulate matter being 7 times the recommended limit in the atmosphere.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

1. We are facilitating the adoption of urea deep placement among the Indian farmers. It is a more efficient way of applying urea on the field. The procedure requires the conversion of powdered (prilled) Urea into urea briquets of 2.7 grams. We have designed a patented machine that does this conversion. These briquets are then placed in the soil, near the root rather than broadcasting urea over the soil surface. We have also developed a patented applicator for applying the briquets hence reducing the reliance on labour availability. 2. Our product gets attached to a diesel engine exhaust and converts soot (unburnt carbon particles) into commercially usable ink. This helps the customer recover the cost of the product overtime.

Awards

Runners-up Eureka! 2015 - we were the runners up at the Asia's biggest business plan competition among more than 7,200 competitors. Aarambh winner - India's largest social business plan competition. Design Innovation Summer Award - MHRD (Govt. of India)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Urea deep placement is the technique of urea deep placement where prilled urea available in the market is first converted into urea briquets with a briqueting machine. \ It will also promote local entrepreneurship at the village level. The briquets need to be then placed near the plant root, at depth of about 7-10 cm by the farmer, at a distance of around 5 cm. This will reduce the urea usage by 40% and increase the yield by 30%. This will also reduce the carbon emissions by around 1 metric tonne per hectare and almost eliminate eutrophication. 2. The other product will covert the soot from engine to commercially usable ink. The soot will pass through a solution and get dissolved in it which can be later collected.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

1. We have already started selling the briqueting machines to government institutions. We were invited by the Home Minister of India, Mr. Rajnath Singh, at his residence where we discussed the prospects and way forward with him for over 40 minutes. The central government is very keen on this. We are currently in the process of setting up a distribution network at the local village level to make this available to the farmers directly. We are in talks with some of the leading urea manufacturing companies for this. Once implemented across India, it will generate food security for 110 million Indians, reduce imports by 2 billion dollars and earn India carbon credits worth 1 billion USD. 2. We have developed the prototype with the chemical that is locally available, cheap and dissolves soot. The device needs to be attached to the exhaust chimney and almost eliminate unburnt carbon emission.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. The government is a key partner in spreading urea deep placement through farmer cooperatives and institutions. We need a retailing partner for making the technology available at the grass root level. We are in talks with fertilizer companies for the same. We have partnered with two manufacturers (vimeo.com/32572723) 2. We are targeting manufacturers who use diesel engine as a source of power. We will sell them the product . In the future we will make more useful materials from the carbon emitted like carbon nanotubes.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

1. We will make profit on each machine that we will sell. We also plan to implement an EMI scheme for the village locals to be able to increase the reach of the machine. We will raise money to be able to scale up operations and market the product. 2. We want to raise money to research further and be able to make more materials, from the unburnt carbon emitted, like carbon nanotubes.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

1. There is currently no other player in the market which is addressing the problem of insufficient usage of fertilizer. There are competitors promoting other farming techniques like organic farming etc but have a very limited market due to the low acceptance. 2. There is no direct competitor currently present.
Team

Founding Story

'The very air you breathe is poison'. This line stuck with me since my childhood, when it was said by a doctor during one of my many appointments. As a child I had trouble with my lungs. It was then that I got the drive to do something for our environment.I read a lot about pollution and environmental damage, but it was when I saw an elderly women coughing up blood in front of me that I realised how horrific it is to bear the consequences of pollution. The women belonged to my village and was a victim of Indoor Air Pollution. The time to act was now. Thus started our journey. After innumerable brainstorming sessions finally narrowed down to ‘transportation and engine’ and ‘agriculture'.

Team

Our team believes that as much as it is important to come up with innovative solutions for problems plaguing us, it is also critical to come up with a proper and clear plan for it's implementation and marketing. We have a very closely integrated team having members who have interest and knowledge in a variety of divisions. What makes us different is the fact that due to our technical background, we are able to judge the complexity and ramifications of a certain problem and its solution. On top of that the fact that all of us are in the age group of 20-25 underlines our ability to work beyond what is the average capacity of people working. Thus we bring together a quality that can be considered a prerequisite to the success of start ups today - inexhaustible energy and intense pace. We have taken a two pronged approach here whereby we have a proper engineering team comprised of Mr. Arpit Dhupar as the chief research officer who decides the direction of research within our company. Also we have a implementation planning and market research team headed by Mr. Kushagra Srivastava which takes care of need validation of the solutions developed by us and studies the market trends evolving a business plan for our products. Following is the profile of our core team members. Kushagra Srivastava – B.Tech from Indian Institute Of Technology Delhi (popularly known as IIT Delhi). He interned with Avanti Fellows and was a part of their communication and outreach team. He visited over 90 schools serving to the underprivileged kids in our society.He was the youngest member chosen from all over India to attend the summer course of Stanford Business School. He has won the India Business Case Study Competition and also represented India in the HSBC & HKU Asia Pacific Business Case Competition. He was also the part of the team which won the Enactus India National Championship. Arpit Dhupar - He graduated from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, IP University, with B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering in 2014. He attended a short term course on "Design and Analysis-II" under Applied Mechanics department at IIT Delhi for 6 months after graduation, where he attended classes with regular M.Tech students. He was also selected for a month long workshop named ‘MIT Media Labs Design Innovation workshop 2015’ organized by MIT Media at Ahmedabad. He was among the 34 other people selected from all over the country. He worked under the track “Civic Innovation” with mentors from MIT, Massachusetts. He worked on a project whereby using technology he tried to urge people to reduce food leftovers, by developing a real time bi-directional communication between the user and an interactive dustbin “I-bin”. The project was praised specially for the frugality and cost-effectiveness. Vasu Tekriwal - B.Tech from IIT Delhi majors in Chemical Engineering. Under a project at IIT Delhi, he made a fully mechanical sun tracking solar panel which was appreciated by the Director of the institute. He has won the India Business Case Study Competition and also represented India in the HSBC & HKU Asia Pacific Business Case Competition. He was also the part of the team which won the Enactus India National Championship for a social initiative Aanch which is tackling the problem of indoor air pollution across 5 states. Surbhi Singla - B.Tech from IIT Delhi majors in Chemical Engineering. She is a mentor at Avanti fellows, a social organization which provides mentorship and training to students at the bottom of the pyramid, to help smoothen their path towards admission to the IITs' and other engineering colleges. She was also a mentor in the start-up 'Nurturing Nation', which works towards a similar cause. She also won the Best NSS volunteer award at IIT Delhi, for contribution towards the National Services Scheme, an initiative by the government of India to sensitize students towards various social causes. She was also involved in a project for building a working human powered aircraft, and was successful in building a prototype of the same. She is also a team member at Excelsior India, a start-up which aims towards building socially relevant products catering to the needs of the bottom of the pyramid population. She is an active member of the Debating club, IIT Delhi and has participated in national level competitions/conferences like the Model United Nations, and the Indian National Debating Championship. She is also a member of the Dramatics club, IIT Delhi, and has performed in street plays to spread social awareness towards causes like Cancer. Ms. Surbhi Singhla works under the research section and Mr. Vasu under marketing sections respectively. We also have Ms. Manvi, major in Industrial Production from IIT Delhi and Ms. ishani, major in Chemical Engineering from IIT Delhi as the members of research team of our company. We have another 13 people under the two departments of the company.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Facebook

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Affordable and Clean Energy, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Kushagra Srivastava and Prateek Sachan founded an NGO ‘Nurturing nation’ where they built a highly motivated team of 30 Mentors(emailsajal@gmail.com,Head ,Bits Goa Chapter) from IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur who were then trained and supervised to mentor kids from poor background to clear IIT JEE (entrance exam to get into IITs) .These students face the poor education systems which are prevailing in the government schools in India ,that coupled with the limited mindset of their parents who fail to recognise the need to study, contribute to these students not being able to learn effectively and seriously and hence they end unable to gain the exposure required to use their schooling as a window of opportunity. Mentoring and guidance in such a situation focused on increasing and effectively using opportunities available to these kids becomes critical.
Through this venture they learnt how to build and run a team comprised of best minds in the country and keeping up with the difficult task of keeping them motivated. They also closely learnt about the problems and difficulties faced by students who don’t get quality education and also suffer from the various social dogmas imposed upon them by their elders
Prateek and Kushagra also visited over 250 government schools while working for avanti fellows(varun@avanti.in , supervisor ,Avanti Fellows) to identify the problems that are there in the indian education system.
Vasu, Kushagra and Prateek also worked at Enactus IIT Delhi where they worked on eradicating the problem indoor air pollution by making a one of its kind smokeless stove and a one of its kind business model by involving local rural women in making and selling of these stoves, here they learned how to propagate technologies designed for social good and overcome the barriers of a conservative rural market. Till date 500 smokeless stoves have been installed and Enactus IIT Delhi has won the Enactus India National Competition. As a consequence Vasu Tekriwal represented Enactus India in South Africa where our team reached the semifinals, amongst 36 National Champions from all over the world.(shivadhavan@gmail.com,Ex team leader Enactus IIT Delhi (Employee at At Karney))
Vasu Tekriwal , Prateek Sachan and Kushagra Srivastava then started a social initiative where they collected wastepaper from urban residential communities ,they gauged and learnt about the perceptions and willingness of the well off people regarding donating for a social cause through going door to door to around 2500 homes personally ((+91)9971943399 -Ms Kusum,Donor,Munirka)and interacting with these people personally .During the course of time they built a team of local waste paper collectors who did this work themselves and learnt team building of people with dire hands-on skills and hardworking abilities but who are less educated and whose primary motivation is not intrinsic but the problems they face in providing for their family. They also then tied up with Khanna Papers(A $ 600 million company pioneering in recycling wastepapers) and used the collected wastepaper by recycling them into high quality notebooks and distributing them to the underprivileged kids. During this time they built a fruitful relationship with the big conglomerate which was useful to both the parties(varun.jain@khannapaper.com , CEO , Khanna Papers). Till now we have distributed over 1.1 lakh notebooks to the underprivileged .We have also been covered many times in the most renowned papers of India.(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/IIT-team-reuses-waste-pape...)
Vasu Tekriwal and Kushagra Srivastava won the India Business Case Study Competition and consequently went on to represent India in the HSBC/HKU Asia Pacific case study competition held in Hong Kong where there were representatives of 19 Asia Pacific countries. It was an intense learning experience for them .There they learned about various cultures and behaviours of multi national people ,made contacts and learned about various approaches to businesses taken by such a diverse crowd.
Prateek , Vasu and Kushagra designed and patented A-Maze ,a unique low cost desk cum bag made out of recyclable cardboard to tackle the problem of lack of furniture in Govt Schools in India.A-Maze incorporates in it a rural marketing tool which helps big FMCGs to have a reliable marketing took for the scattered rural market of India.It is a classical example of using business ideas to create a long lasting impact.A-maze was appreciated by our late president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and was launched by the Dy Chief Minister of Delhi Mr Manish Sisodia at IIT Delhi.We have completed 2,000 orders till now and we are received more than 10,000 orders which we are completing currently.There has been immense coverage of A-Maze in the media.Here are the articles- PFA the article
(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/A-Maze-that-doubles-as-sch...)

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We have the following mentors for the project:
1. Rajnath Singh - Honourable Home Minister Of India, Government of India (contact confidential)
2. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi - Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India (contact confidential)
3. Anurag Thankur - Member of Lok Sabha, Government of India (contact confidential)
4. Sanjeev Sanghi - Professor, Department of Applied Mechanics, Indian Institute Of Technology Delhi (+91 98-91-155-484, sanghi@am.iitd.ac.in )
5. Anirudh Sharma - Head, MIT Media Lab India (0 81-23-011-010, anirudhs@mit.edu)
6. Rajeev Doval - National Head - Marketing Communication & Branding–Times Foundation (rajeevdoval.timesofindia@gmail.com)
7. Shiva Dhawan - Business Analyst, A.T. Kearney (+91 97-11-024-689)
8. Sahil Singla - Business Analyst, Goldman Sachs (+91 98-18-101-795)
9. Akshay Saxena - Co-founder Avanti fellows, MBA from Harvard Business School
Partners:
1. Times Foundation, media partner - CSR wing of Times Group
2. Khanna Paper, industry partner - India's second largest paper manufacturing company
3. Mentor Together, on ground partner - A NGO that works with the underprivileged kids in India
4. Indian Institute Of Technology Delhi, technology development partner
5. Indian Institute of Management Indore, business development partner
6. ITSA, creative partner - India's best creative agency
7. Goonj, on ground partner - India's largest NGO
8. Avanti fellows, on ground partner - India's fastest growing social enterprise
9. Enactus India