It wasn’t long ago when Prerna Mukharya was amongst the many that used to crib about the lack of authentic data to base research upon. Prerna, before taking up the job of a researcher at the Center for Policy Research, did her M.A in Economics from Boston University and also worked as a research assistant at MIT and Harvard. “I was deeply involved with field research and knew about the difficulties in the sector. The researchers are always finicky about high quality data for primary research and the information coming from the agencies via their field work wasn’t very convincing,” explains Prerna about the sector.
Looking at this gap, Prerna was inspired to do something to fix the problem and getting a push from her professors, Prerna decided to startup Outline India while her colleagues went on to get PhDs. Putting the business simply, Outline India provides solutions for executing field surveys across India and behind it is a a solid team of 4 (Sanjay Joshi, Kaushik Sarkar and Jasdeep Mandia along with Prerna) who all bring a deep domain knowledge into the company.
Born in July 2012, Outline India covers areas such as Health, Manufacturing, Energy and Chemicals, Education, Finance, Environment, Labor Market, Infrastructure, and Governance for conducting surveys. "We're working with some clients currently (names haven't been revealed because of agreements) and are streamlining our processes working along with surveyors to set things straight. To scale the business, I believe technology will be a cornerstone to make it work. We intend to process all the information via portable devices and software would help in managing the required survey information on these devices, removing the hassle of data entry," explains Prerna. Although Outline India relies mainly on conventional methods as of now for conducting surveys, how they use technology will be pivotal going forward. Outline India also focuses on the quality of the data work being delivered by training the surveyors, understanding the research objectives and methodologies, planning a pilot program and giving timely response to the researcher, GPS tracking of the surveyor to ensure the authenticity of data.
Sourcing projects mainly via recommendations till now, Prerna has a couple of challenges to hurdle over. Firstly, this is a fairly labour intensive sector for which setting up a strong foundation in terms of hiring will be critical. Secondly, the capital required would be considerable. Prerna has completely bootstrapped till now and is currently on the lookout for investments to scale up. Certainly a good value proposition, Outline India will need to forge strategic partnerships that can spread the word and take the business forward.
McDowell’s No. 1 Platinum respects Leaders like Prerna who took the unbeaten path and also inspires more people to follow their dreams and join them in their unconventional journey