Sreeram Raavi hardly realized it when his vacation turned into an entrepreneurial opportunity. Little did he know that a routine trip to his village and its idyllic cotton and chilly farms were destined to change one day into something more than just a pleasure trip. A semi-conductor engineer, Sreeram says it has been a routine to visit his village during school and college vacations. One of his main haunts in the village was an aquaculture pond, which belonged to his uncle. During a visit, Sreeram’s uncle seemed hassled. The reason: drastic drop in oxygen levels in the pond killed a lot of fish, costing him a loss of about Rs 8-9 lakh. “When I asked him what the problem was, he told me that the level of dissolved oxygen in the pond had gone down and therefore the fish died. As he was out of town, he couldn’t save them. If he could have detected the depleting oxygen levels on time, then the fishes could have been saved,” Sreeram says.
While he could not make good the loss his uncle suffered, it showed him an opportunity that would turn him into an entrepreneur.
About the startup
Sreeram started working on setting up Eruvaka Technologies in May 2012 and the entity was finally incorporated in November 2012. Before turning entrepreneur, Sreeram worked for a Japanese electronics firm and helped them build chipsets for router and broadband equipments. He started Eruvaka by bootstrapping and now, after a year of operations and over 100 installations, Sreeram says they get 'decent' revenues.
Eruvaka builds flouting buoys that help measure different water parameters that are crucial for the growth and survival of shrimps in an aquaculture pond. Data collected from the buoys is uploaded on cloud and then transmitted to individual customers through an Android app installed in their phones. Information collected includes oxygen levels, temperature and pH range in the pond. Besides accessing information through the app, it can also be transmitted via SMS, voice call or through the internet.
The device that monitors water parameters floats in water and is powered by solar energy. “In case of drop in oxygen levels etc, a voice call goes to the owner, which is an IVR message drawing his attention to the fact that oxygen levels are down. Timely delivery of information can help cut the losses that aquaculturists incur,” says Sreeram.
Eruvaka started operations in Vijayawada in coastal Andhra Pradesh and have made over Rs 1 crore worth of installations. They are a team of five who built the product and also provide support to customers. So far, most of the sales have been through word-of-mouth, but they are now in the process of building their sales and marketing team to take the product pan India.
Sreeram says the biggest clincher in their business has been the service they provide to customers, which results in positive WOM. “Our sales & service team is committed to solving problems within six hours of being reported. We regularly visit our customers, atleast once in three months to service the equipment,” says Sreeram. Trade fairs and exhibitions are other ways Eruvaka has been spreading the word on their product.
Towards the end of last year, Omnivore Partners picked up a minority stake in the venture which Sreeram says will be used for expanding his team and entering new markets.
As they grow, the startup is facing the usual challenges of scaling and growth – inventory management and supply chain is one concern and the other challenge is being able to service customers efficiently. Sreeram says the reliability they bring to the table is something each customer values and they will continue to strive to remain on top there. “I started this venture because it was a passion and the results are very encouraging. I am really happy with the way things are moving,” he says.