Agricultural Sector: A significant sector neglected from the investors

Agriculture forms the major occupation of around 70% of the Indian population. It provides principal means of livelihood and forms the major backbone of the Indian economy. Still agriculture sector has not seen the kind of growth expected by a developing country like India. To overcome the difficulties faced by the farmers, there are few farmers who themselves come up with an innovative solution to address their problems.

One such farmer Mr. Gopal Dave; from a small and remote village Salawas, from Jodhpur (Rajasthan) has developed an innovative equipment for the farm. He is a farmer from birth and his income and livelihood depends completely on farming. For such farmers even a penny savings matters a lot and has a huge impact on their revenue stream. He faced difficulty in distributing the seeds while sowing. Most of the farmers face this issue of uneven distribution. As this job is done manually by the farmers, there is high wastage of seeds due to distribution at unwanted places. So with his experience in farming over the years, he designed a methodology which can help in even distribution of the seeds and reduce its wastage too.

Gopal started his research and practice back in 1997 to develop Multi Crop Seed Drill equipment. His path to success was not easy and it took him almost a decade to fine tune his equipment as desirable. Till 2007 he continued practicing and remodeling his equipment to achieve perfection.

Gopal with his Multi Crop Drill Innovation

Gopal with his Multi Crop Drill Innovation

There are similar equipment in the market but they do not do multispeed sowing for mixed cropping. The innovation by Gopal has addressed this problem and he has been able to sell this equipment to more than thousands of farmers across various regions. This unique multi crop drill is able to sow all kinds of seeds right from bajra, jowar till pulses, except for cotton seeds. This drill can be used for fertilizers spreading as well. So the farmers have dual advantage of fertilizer cum seeds distribution. Since both these commodities are expensive and account for major costs in farming, this drill helps the farmers to save a considerable amount of money and increase their margins thereby.

Competitive Advantage:
• It has a unique metering system which allows the farmers to sow seeds based on the weight of the seeds. Right from 200gm upto 60Kg of seeds or fertilizers can be sowed using this drill.
• It has a power wheel setup which can be linked to the cultivator / tractor, which distributes seeds only when the cultivator runs.
• The drill can maintain uniform speed to seed distance and the seed level inside the seed hopper can be seen from driver’s seat.
• The device saves labor and time consumed in clearing seed containers for next seed sowing and the time and cost of second sowing. It is best suited for mixed cropping. The seed rate can be adjusted from 3 kg/acre for a small size seed to 60 kg/acre for grain or similar crops.
• No wastage of seeds at turns and higher speed

Achievements: Gopal’s innovation is recognized by the government of India, under the MVIF scheme of National Innovation Foundation – India. He was felicitated by prior Union Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Sharad Pawar; for addressing a problem faced by many farmers which no one had thought about. He has also applied for patent at Delhi office (No. 365/DEL/2008) and is still pending grant.

Marketing Strategy: Gopal has been able to sell up to 500-600 units per month recently. However, the awareness about this innovation is still very limited. The only way he has been able to create awareness is through Word-of-Mouth publicity and through strong networking among the farmers community. In 2010, one farmer named Mr. Venugopal Reddy from Andhra Pradesh met Gopal and he came to know about his innovation. Venugopal was impressed about it and took one equipment along with him. After he experienced its benefits he has been placing orders from Gopal for other famers in his region. Apart from Andhra Pradesh this equipment is distributed in different parts of Rajasthan like Jaisalmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Jalore, Barmer, Pali and Sirohi.

Path Ahead: Gopal being a small scale farmer and he hails from a small village where internet connectivity is out of question. Also, these farmers are not much aware about marketing tactics and lack appropriate means to publicize. They do not have enough funds to take their idea to next step and lack skills to scale up their operations. In order to help him make his idea big, investors should come ahead to provide a helping hand. Gopal do not want to commercialize his innovation but only to create awareness about the Multi Crop Seed Drill to as many farmers as possible to pass on the benefits.

There are many such grass root innovators who do not have a degree or educational qualification at hand and still based on their aptitude try to bring out a change in the society. And agriculture is one of the sector which has been neglected by the investors and people are not keen on taking risk in this sector. However, it remains to be pondered about why investors are not eager to invest in the sector which forms the backbone of the economy? Why investors / promoters are looking only for an IIT/IIM passout graduates to invest their money? Why even government is not recognizing the talent hidden in various regions in India?

Contributed by my colleague, Snehal Mahajan

Oston Skates – Roller coaster life of an entrepreneur

A young entrepreneur who started his journey from a small town in Jaipur, has been termed as a young innovator of the city. Sayar Singh, who came from a mediocre family had curiosity and fervor to create new products which can bring change in the society. He started innovating new ideas and products at the age of twelve and founded the company Oston Tech Pvt. Ltd along with other co-founders. By the age of 18 he already had 32 innovations and 5 pending patents in his name. His innovations to name a few range from various technical gadgets like Drone, Measurement Apparatus to security systems like Locks to alert the police department and the owner in insecure conditions, Fuel Management system which prevents fuel filing station from fire etc.

Sayar is a serial innovator and has zeal to keep bringing new idea and products to the market. However, currently he has taken sabbatical from his Oston Tech Pvt. Ltd. due to lack of funds to support his research and production of the products.

One of the most significant and revolutionizing innovation by Sayar Singh is ‘Oston Skates’. These skates are designed so as to take the skates to a next level which enhances the jerk absorbing capacity of the skates. The USP of these skates is the suspension system which is supported by a spring mechanism. It has ability to absorb more than 75% of shock. This enhances speed and mobility of the skates along with controlling balance based on the body position. These can be used for long as well as short distance. What made Sayar think about this innovation is to address the problems faced by many skaters while skating on road or on a rough area.

Oston Skates Features

Oston Skates Features

There are around 12 features of Oston Skates which make them unique and innovative. Few of them can be listed as below:
• It can run anywhere on rough and uneven surface.
• It has got shock absorption capacity of around 75%.
• It has well designed balancing system and brake system which helps in maintaining the balance.
• In ordinary skates person has to bend his knees and legs for higher speed. This causes joint pains, however in Oston skates it has oscillation point in the wheels which helps to maintain comfortable position.
• Spring mechanism and the brake system allows to do skating in decline position.
• The overall mechanism helps to enhance speed and it can also cross hurdles in 90 degree position.

These skates mechanism has many applications to improve the performance and efficiency of emergency vehicles. The concept is applicable in automobiles and the first implementation for the same is skates. The jerk free or shock absorption mechanism can be used in motor vehicles to reduce accidents in case of sudden brake application. For ambulances, with jerk free technology, treatment inside the vans could be more effective saving time at those crucial moments in the patient’s life.

Currently, Sayar and team has filed for patent application in European Patent Office for their unique innovation. The patent grant is still awaited and the team is working on developing or improving the design further. Marketing team is working to chalk out marketing strategy which can help to position these skates in right market segment and can beat the competition.

What Sayar and team plans next is to produce these skates on a large scale so as to achieve economies of scale to bring down the costs and make it available to as many market segments as possible. For this he requires funding of around $225,000. A good idea with a perfect marketing strategy in place is useless if it is not fueled with appropriate funds.
Many entrepreneurs and innovators like Sayar has to face hardships in order to make their idea worth. Backing by proper fund managers and investors can make their idea worthwhile and help contribute to the GDP of the country. Otherwise their life will be a roller coaster ride as on the skating wheels!

Contributed by my colleague, Snehal Mahajan

Innovation in Financial Services

Daily newspapers are flooded with changes in the Indian economy based on the steps taken by the Modi government. Not only the FIIs investments are increasing but also there seems to be a change in the industry perspective in India. These changes are directly or indirectly having an impact on the stock market as well. BSE and NSE index which is widely termed as SENSEX (sensitive Index) is one of the major face of the economy of a country. It depicts the performance as well as the health of the companies traded in it. In turn it portrays the strength, sustainability and stability of the country. Economic, financial and industrial growth and development of the country can be depicted through this index.

Past performance of stock market has shown that in last decade it has given around 18% returns on investment. Since the inception of Modi government due to positive global queues the market has surged by almost 30%. This is the only investment option which can give you very high returns over a period of time obviously subject to high risk. No traditional investment options like Fixed Deposits, Insurance policies, National Savings Certificate etc. can give you same returns if invested for same period. Inspite of its out-performance over the period, why people are afraid to enter the stock market for investment options? Why many people are still unaware about the workings and methodology of stock market? If this index has such a strong base to showcase the country’s position in the world market, why is it so unpredictable?

I am sure there are many among you who want to enter the stock market for investment but are not able to because of its unpredictability. What if this unpredictability is reduced and trading is made bit easier? The innovators out there have a chance to tap this innovation gap in the stock market. With analytics and algorithmic trading in trend, these can be used to design a model which can predict the market. There are already many models in the market which are in place, but they have not yet tapped the market well. Many companies like AlgoAnalytics, Nextgenquant etc are already designing models to predict the stock market that can impact their trading decisions. But still we can see the same stock market screen with green and red variations. There has not been much innovation in the stock market.

The existing trading models based on algorithms and quants are designed on set pre-defined rules. They can range from different factors like Time, Profit Margin, Frequency of trading etc. The model is purely based on historical data and real time tick data. They do not take into consideration macroeconomics and microeconomics factors. They also do not involve any technical or financial analysis of the company. But still these models are accurate upto 50-60%. There is probability involved which makes them risky to believe. Also, the existing models which are there in the market are almost similar using the secondary data available. I don’t think it takes into consideration primary data which can be availed only through direct contact with SEBI or the company’s board.

Moreover, all the models seem to be similar giving similar predictability. This might not suit a particular investor. They are all generic models designed for the high-end, high-value investors. So, I feel there is a need for a model which can be customized based on the investor’s needs. A model can be designed which can also consider economic factors to predict the future upto a certain level. There can be following type of investors
1. Short term or Long term investor
2. Pure trader specific
3. Sector specific investor
4. Mixed Portfolio or dedicated portfolio

A model should be designed which can take into consideration above factors on need basis. Few people would not like to track the market or do not have time to personally pay attention to their portfolio. For such people the model can send alerts when a buy or sell or hold indicator is predicted. There can be an option where an individual can allocate an amount he wants to invest over a period of time and based on his investment period, the model can suggest which stocks to invest in. It can also give an estimate of returns over a period of time which can make investment decisions easier for the layman as well.

However, these models cannot take into consideration random changes in the economy or the changes which take place due to personal decisions of the company’s board of directors. Recently, Infosys Board of members decided to sell their shares to raise money for charity. This plunged the stock further inspite of its uptrend in past few months. So such decisions which can be random or sudden change in the economy due to any crisis will be difficult to incorporate. Hence, doing all this might not help to resolve the complete unpredictability of the market, it can only help to reduce the apprehensiveness towards these investment options. So people who are excited about trading and are well versed with algorithms have a chance to showcase their talent to do some innovation in financial markets.

Contributed by my colleague, Snehal Mahajan