“Getting expected things in life is ordinary; Missing expected things and facing unexpected things in life is extraordinary.” – Naveen Lakkur
Most people do what they always do and get what they always got. They mostly get expected results in life. Some people go a Little Extra to face the unexpected to go while fighting to get expected things. In doing so, they build solutions that will help thousands, if not millions, to get expected things. Here is a list of people who are facing unexpected things to help others.
Story 1 – Agricultural Input for a Sustainable Output
Small farmers have lower market access, limited ability to procure farm inputs, seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, or machinery. Due to these problems, farmers have low yields, which does not give them any leverage. They miss expected things and their life is filled with unexpected things. India needs agritech startups to solve the supply chain, input procurement, and income generation for farms.
In 2017, Sai Gole and Siddharth Dialani, intending to provide end-to-end decision making support for farmers through technological solutions and an intelligent farm advisor had helped farmers get more than a 40% increase in yield while reducing management costs.
Sai Gole grew up in a family involved in agriculture for 30 years. The agriculture sector continues to battle problems like inefficient practices, overuse of pesticides, and traditional mindsets. Sai Gole and Siddharth Dialani’s thought to use technology as a game-changer.
After their post-graduation and working for a year, they stayed in a five-acre farm in Pune to feel the impediments faced by farmers and to personally empathize with the farmers when they faced unexpected things in their life. They drew inspiration from these experiences and learnt that Because of the lack of scientific knowledge, Indian farmers earn less than their peers from other countries. To fight the expected missing things like profitability, scientific knowledge, and others, they faced challenges to create a knowledge source for farmers. This gave rise to BharatAgri that could solve these problems through their technological know-how.
BharatAgri is a Pune-based agritech start-up by IIT-Madras alumni. With Krishi Doctor, Bharath Agri’s innovative technology solution provides personalized agriculture and farming advisory to farmers. Ever since its inception, over 350,000 users have used the services. With a pool of users, it has monetized its digital advisory at scale. It has over 25,000 paying farmers as subscribers.
With its innovative solution, Bharat Agri aims to improve productivity and improve the value chain of agriculture in India. Bharat Agri provides a systematic solution and consultancy calendar to farmers. The farmers get critical inputs like what to grow, how to grow, when to water, when to provide fertilizer through Bharath Agri’s algorithm, essentially equipping the farmers to effectively deal with the situation of missing expected things and when they face unexpected things in life.
Story 2 – Wings of Hope – Drone Tech for Healthcare and Agriculture
Whenever Prem Kumar Vislawath visited home 40 kilometers from Gachibowli in Hyderabad, he was alarmed by the increasing number of mosquitoes. He wrote a total of 17 letters that went unresponded. He faced an expected problem of the inaction of the authorities. When he visited the authorities, they, in turn, told him to help to fight the mosquito menace. He turned to his IIT-Guwati batchmates to rid his area of mosquitoes.
Drones have many applications, which include military, logistics, last-mile delivery, broadcasting, etc. Founded by IIT-Guwahati alumni, Hyderabad-based Marut Dronetech was founded by three IIT-Guwahati batchmates, Prem Kumar Vislawath, Suraj Peddi, and Sai Kumar Chinthala, in 2019, as a solution to the mosquito problem on lakes and for sustainable agriculture and reforestation.
Marut Dronetech’s drone called ‘Marut ZAP’ can eradicate mosquito larvae and water hyacinths on the lakes. Their AI platform identifies mosquito-borne diseases and the areas where they breed. Their dashboard will show them the data of different breeds of mosquitoes. Their IoT device captures mosquitoes within a 500-meter range and identifies males or females and what disease they are carrying.
It then gives recommendations on whether the specific area has larvae or adult mosquitoes, including how to deal with it. The drone was an easy choice as they were using it for their previous filmmaking startup.
In 2019, they partnered with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation to pilot in the Miyapur lake. They managed to bring down the mosquito larval density from 41 per ladle of water to 28, while the adult mosquito dwindled from 16 to 26 in two days, a victory for the young startups and the entrepreneurs.
Next, it built an autonomous drone called ‘Marut Agri’ to spray fertilizers and pesticides on agricultural fields, a step towards safe and sustainable farming. Recently, they created the Marut Go drones to sow seed balls into the ground. The growth of these plants is further observed using geotagging technology.
Incubated at T-Hub, Hyderabad, the startup was selected to participate in Facebook’s India Innovation Accelerator Programme – AI for Social Good, and was awarded the ‘Emerging Technology Award for Drones and AI’ at the sixth Nasscom Technology Conference, 2019.
The biggest challenge came to Hyderabad’s authorities and Marut Dronetech in the form of COVID-19. Facing the unexpected problem, the founders got to work. They innovated further and customized their drones to spray disinfectants. They started by spraying disinfectant over an area where 11 people had tested positive for COVID-19, and then they sprayed at the district collectorate, municipal corporation offices, district hospitals, bus stations, auto stands, and markets.
Their study shows that drones can disinfect 50 times more area than the traditional way and be more efficient, keeping human operators safe and avoiding cross-infection. By April, they worked in eight districts of Telangana. Not to be undone, the company also demonstrated the possibility of delivering medical supplies with ‘Marut Medico.’
They also recently developed a public monitoring and warning drones fitted with a camera and speaker to help monitor the coronavirus hotspots, prevent crowds, and provide appropriate instructions. Co-founder Prem also said that the drones could be used to monitor temperature using thermal imaging.
The founders are now going a Little Extra by working with the state government to train the workforce into flying UAVs. They are in touch with universities, corporate firms, and research centers to acquire projects, train the workforce, and further research. Marut partnered with Telangana’s government to start a drone tech training academy to create a talent pool benefiting the broader ecosystem that could help the future generations to take on and face unexpected problems.
Story 3 – Work Horse of a Different Kind
San Andrés Itzapa, a small town in the South American country of Guatemala, missed an expected thing. Electricity. However, local people used bikes to carry goods and delivery services while facing unexpected things in life.
Carlos Enrique Marroquín, a local innovator, repurposes old bicycles into ‘bicimáquinas,’ a pedal-powered machine for homes and small businesses. The machines work and look like stationary bikes, but they come with special attachments such as water pumps and blenders that relieve the need for electrical tools and manual labor.
Staff and local + international volunteers of the Maya Pedal, the NGO Carlos founded, transforms bicycles donated from the USA and Canada into functional tools. The technology saves money, energy, and hassle, as the finished objects forego electricity and are easily maintained. The users ride the machines getting the health benefits of riding the bikes while going about their work.
Each innovative machine is hand-made to order with the donated bicycles and salvaged concrete, wood, metal, and other locally available materials. Maya Pedal’s designs include grinders, threshers, water pumps, nut-shellers, blenders, tile-makers, and more, selling the machines at affordable prices.
Carlos has gone a Little Extra and has made the designs for his innovative machines open source. The designs can be accessed on the website and used anywhere in the world. The bicimáquinas have helped sustain the local businesses and homes. In the same town, a women’s group operates one of the machines to make aloe vera shampoo, which has provided income for the women. The money has helped buy saplings for a local reforestation project.
Another group uses a pedal-powered pump to raise drinking water from a 30-foot well. Other uses of the machines include sharpening machetes and mending a football. Maya Pedal also offers a bike repair service to the local people.
Recently, Carlos transitioned from Maya Pedal to BiciTec, his non-profit social venture. Besides marketing pedal-powered machines, BiciTec has a long-term goal of establishing an international school of appropriate technologies. His plans also include an education facility focused on bicycle technology and a center for community building and passing on traditional Mayan knowledge.