Inside IIT Kanpur, experience India’s future


It’s a little bit of an effort to reach IIT Kanpur. There is no direct flight to the city, and after landing in Lucknow, you have to take a cab to Kanpur.

On the ride to the campus, a question comes to mind, is India really developing in the lanes and by-lanes of the country? The campaigns of ‘Swacchh Bharat’ and economic development are yet to be seen on this two-hour drive to the campus. But once you enter IIT Kanpur, you know you have arrived at a place which is at par with the best educational institutes worldwide. If not better.

What greeted me in the campus was a bunch of excited students from the entrepreneurship cell who had left no stone unturned to make it the best event and experience for everyone in the campus.

And yes, when I asked the students, how many of them wanted to startup, this was the response:

Let me introduce you to the promise I experienced inside the campus with a sincere hope that you will participate in encouraging the bright young talent of our country.

Meet Shivank Garg, student founder of Vegley, a startup that started selling 100 percent carbide-free mangoes. “Do you know that 95 percent of the mangoes we get in the market are carbideripened,” Shivank asks me and in the same breath goes on to add,

Calcium Carbide is the most commonly used chemical for artificial ripening. It contains arsenic and phosphorous that converts the healthy fruit poisonous. Also this same substance, which is used to ripen citrus fruits, is used for gas welding? Someone has to address this problem, how can we continue to let this happen to us. I had to find a solution to give everyone a healthy choice. We should not be fooled and taken for a ride by people wanting to make quick bucks. And so I started Vegley.

Vegley is located at a distance of one km from Azadpur, Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable market, and Shivank says, “We know what to purchase, from where to purchase and at what prices.” And the engineer in him comes out when he says, “Our technique/ method of processing our product is confidential. The success in the technique was achieved after conducting rigorous research and experiments over a long period.”Currently, Vegley is present in Delhi NCR with a workforce of 20+ employees, five offices, and with three refrigerated delivery vans. Vegley has also managed to secure a 3600 sq. ft. warehouse equipped with controlled atmosphere chambers as well as cold storage facility.

The proud entrepreneur says, “We can easily process five metric tonnes of fruits and vegetables daily.” So how come you are still in the campus and are able to do all this I ask, pat comes the reply, “I am able to manage my time, this is something I love doing, it feels I am creating a real impact every day, it does not seem like hard work. Also, my father is my partner who takes care of the daily running of the business when I am here.” Shivank’s father recently recuperated from an illness and somewhere I believe that gives him the drive to ensure everyone is healthy.

Meet the six-member startup team (Nikhil Upadhye, Suhas Banshiwala,Vipul Singh, Yeshwanth Reddy, Piyush Negi, and Prashant) making DRONES for their venture, AUS (Aarav Unmanned Systems). AUS has been in SIIC-IITK since December 2013. The team has indigenously built Unmanned Aerial Systems and has already got IP in both hardware as well as software for flight controller, architecture, and design.

Understated and driven, Co-founder Yeshwanth Reddy tells me, “Over the past two years we have indigenously built the base of the technology and we are able to do amazing stuff such as say 3D mapping of large areas or say volumetric analysis of mining excavation. Generally people here feel these are too fancy and attribute it only to entities such as Google or other big players in the US and Europe! I can confidently say that the technology we are building is at par with the world's best (believe me, there are not many building such niche technology globally; let alone in India).” And yes, with orders pouring in from the world over, these young men have already chalked out the plan to be a leader in this space. (Detailed story to follow)

Meet Co-founder Kushang (he passed out of campus this year and had come for the summit, carrying with him an infectious enthusiasm) from Adurcup, an automated hyperlocal advertising tool. “Adurcup is an offline ad network reaching more than 25,000 consumers per day across Delhi NCR and more than 3,000 consumers per day on trains,” says young Kushang with great enthusiasm. “The inventory comprises of more than 200+ restaurants and cafes in Delhi/NCR, top corporate houses in Noida and Gurgaon, travellers on trains and so on. This inventory is growing at 50% month on month and by the end of the year, we would be reaching out to more than 100,000 consumers on a daily basis.”

The team says, “We have understood the problems faced by advertisers in offline advertising and overcome the same by offering targeted solution with measured ROI.”

Meet another startup, Shabdnagari, which promises to help you make your website in Hindi. After all, you have to have your identity in your own language. It's a free platform where people can create their websites and pages in Hindi. Along with that, it offers complete range of social services like follower/friend management, messaging/chatting along with the tools to easily create content in Hindi. "We also have fully featured mobile applications available for this platform. Shabdanagari was launched in January 2015. We have around 18 thousand registered users on the platform so far," says founder Amitesh Mishra with a smile.Meet Amrita Vyas, who along with her husband Ashutosh Vyas, has founded Apcegen Technologies, which is incubated at SIIC IITK. Amrita says, “We focus on pathway engineering, development of proprietary expression platforms for Microbial and Mammalian systems, generation of over-expressing stable cell lines, and development of and novel, scalable processes in microbial and mammalian systems.”

Apcegen has so far developed four biologics that are at various stages of development. One of the alternate biologics being developed for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis is shortly entering into non-clinical trials that Apcegen is planning to do in Europe.

Anand Singh Shekawat, Founder of Tourepedia, plans to skip the placement this year and pursue his dream of making his venture a choice for every youngster out their planning a trip. He has already found a huge audience within his campus and started clocking in revenue. Watch his story here:

Abhishek, Founder of FoodMonk, a popular startup in the campus, has already tied up with restaurants across Kanpur and Kota and found ready consumers. He is leveraging technology to ensure people in low connectivity areas can also place orders. Driven and sharp, Abhishek is keen to make his startup a household name. Watch his story here:

Along with the startups, there’s a new wind of change blowing which I could feel in the various choices the students are making. One of the students, Samarth, who is the editor for the college magazine, plans to do journalism after college. He has already bagged an offer from a leading publisher. Another student, Mukul Joshi is pursuing his PhD and doing a research on innovators. In fact, one area he is keenly pursuing is autoethnography and is keen to find out the pattern that leads to innovation and success among entrepreneurs.

I met so many more entrepreneurs with such enthusiasm, drive and positivity and I might be guilty of not remembering to put them all here. We promise to bring out all the stories shortly.

A special mention goes to a student, who absolutely won my admiration for his humility and commitment, Ankur

Gupta, the key organiser of the entrepreneurship summit. Soft-spoken and intelligent, Ankur is contemplating to get solar solution in his campus. If other campuses have it why can’t we in IIT Kanpur leverage solar and reduce the costs, he tells me. I am sure he will make something happen there.

Let me tell you, I entered the campus with fever but somehow the positivity, energy and drive of all the young people made me super-charged. As I headed back from Kanpur to Lucknow, I knew the future of India is going to be bright. And we have so many stories to tell.


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