In a small tea estate village named Hope Tea Garden in Jalpaiguri, a little boy was told not to bother dreaming if he planned on continuing to live in that hamlet. Little did they know that he was the boy who once travelled 108 km for school using three modes of transport, who believed in his roots and his own path, and knew that his skill will usher in his destiny, not his surroundings.
Today, he has been ranked as the number one young entrepreneur in India by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship for his invention, and will be felicitated by PM Modi exactly three months from now. Meet Amit Agarwal, the creator of UpCart.
In spite of a middle-class upbringing, Amit did not see a secure job as the endgame. He studied in a school which was 108 km away, in a place called Binnaguri, till his second grade. He would wake up at 5 am, travel with his dad on his scooter up to the boarding point of a crammed jeep to reach the bus stop. From there, Amit took a bus for school every day. “Life there was challenging as well as miserable. My mom and dad struggled to make a living and their dreams for me kept me motivated,” he says.
They eventually moved to Siliguri and he joined the Delhi Public School there. As a child, he was a wallflower but that changed drastically when he kept hearing how one must study in a metro city in order to have a good career.
“I wanted to prove them wrong. So, I worked on myself, scored 91 percent and rather than following the crowd, joined Inspiria Knowledge Campus for BBA,” he says.
As his course progressed, his entrepreneurial temper suddenly emerged on one regular weekday. His mother, who had just got back from a trip, informed Amit that she couldn’t carry her luggage upstairs, and needed his help.
“It was tough for me too, so I immediately asked the rickshaw-waala to deliver it to our floor, and paid a hefty fee for a small task. It struck me then that if suitcases can have wheels, why can’t something be invented that rolls on the ground as well as on a staircase,” he recalls.
“I kept being told not to do this. My strategy was to keep quiet and not talk back to people who criticised me—I let my work speak for me,” he says. And just like that, hours turned into days, days turned into weeks as he held on to his eureka and finally turned it into something tangible, his product UpCart.
UpCart not only aims to solve the problem of carrying loads over stairs but serves other purposes as well. It has an ergonomic handle that rotates a full 360 degrees rather than a stiff handle. The racks within its trolley make it into a mini cupboard for the times when you don’t want to unpack on a trip. Its “tri-star wheel mechanism” enables it to roll over on any surface, be it staircases or a rocky terrain. It has a button that allows the handle to be locked in one of six positions.
Its four inbuilt shelves—including a laptop tray with a beverage holder, a large laundry bag, a pair of shoe bags— collapse into the base, and its sturdy retractable support keeps the shelves stable. This folding mechanism, wherein it collapses in seconds and can be stored in a sleek bag, makes it more economical in terms of carriage and space consumption.
Most importantly, it has an inbuilt tracking system which gets connected to the user’s phone so that one can track their luggage securely. Its proximity sensor makes them know when their bag arrives at the carousel.
When Amit’s idea started taking shape, there were also certain apprehensions —his sheltered background and modest means could act as a deterrent while starting a company, not to mention going against his family’s wishes by turning to entrepreneurship at such a young age. “Having the will-power and dedication to get UpCart recognised pushed me to overcome all apprehensions,” he states.
Amit went on to win the NASSCOM E-Summit in 2016, and started R&D to upgrade the product while keeping in mind the cost. Through his college, he participated in the global entrepreneurship week which was initiated by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship’s Make In India campaign. The platform was provided by global entrepreneurship network (GEN).
There were various phases over the span of three weeks involving presentations and an interview as well. Amit was ranked 112 among 21,08,000 participants all over India.
“The presentation was a challenge—I always feared public speaking. It took me two months of continuous grooming to overcome it.,” he recalls.
The following week had a huge surprise for Amit when he received an official letter from the government that declared him among the ‘Top 10 Young Entrepreneurs of India,’ to be felicitated by PM Modi on September 28 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. “I got a sudden call from the Ministry informing me that within 10 minutes there would be an online group interview, for the final ranking. Nervously, I logged in and gave my best. Next morning at 9:33, I got a call congratulating me as I ranked first,” he recounts.
In the interim, Amit has also received regional level felicitation from the ministry which has assured him an investment of Rs 1 crore. The product is now ready and has been sent for patenting. Once he gets his patent, he’ll officially launch his product. After sensing the pulse of the market, he plans to start with sales within a year of operation, and intends to price it at approximately Rs 2,000.
Internationally, this product category exists—in fact, once player's product also has the same name as Amit's. Hence, Amit approached the team and took their permission before locking in the name. Lastly, while most of his counterparts products are largely mechanical, Amit's UpCart is a smart device, which he feels, sets him apart.