How this second-generation real estate entrepreneur launched a nanotechnology solutions vertical that crossed Rs 3 crore revenue in a year
Vikas Bardiya joined his family’s real estate business in 2005 after completing his graduation from Regent’s Business School, London. Vikas says that while his father, Rajendra Bardiya, had been running the real estate business Bardiya Group for about four decades, he was also looking at entering the manufacturing space.
“My father and I had the common vision to have a separate manufacturing vertical,” he quips. Vikas says he started scouting for suitable opportunities, and found a gold mine in Africa in 2007. However, after exploring the space for a while, he realised that this was a large operation with huge investments involved. Nothing materialised in the immediate circumstances but Vikas continued to explore.
Around 2012, Vikas found a huge graphite deposition in Africa again. In this deposition, he found an opportunity. “Graphite alone has hundreds of applications including in segments such as lithium-ion batteries, clean energy and more.”
Graphene is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice. Layers of graphene stacked on top of each other form graphite, with an interplanar spacing of 0.335 nanometres.
Research helped him gather that the use of graphene had huge potential, and it was a burgeoning industry. According to market analysis platform ResearchandMarkets, the global graphene market was valued at $4386 million in 2020 of which China had a 33.4 percent share. Moreover, its usage spreads across several sectors such as transport, medicine, electronics, automotive and other sectors.
According to Vikas, he spent the time between 2017 and 2019 doing research, hiring scientists and consultants from around the world including Germany and the US, and started collecting resources to develop nanomaterials. He finally launched Nanomatrix Materials in February 2020 in Jaipur.
The business has one unit in Jaipur, where it develops graphene. A total of Rs 5 crore was invested into the business- which comes under the larger real estate business- the Bardiya Group.
Vikas Bardiya (middle) and his team
The business model
The most important task was to develop graphene, a 2D carbon nanomaterial from graphite. While this involved huge complex processes, it was something the team was able to achieve in 2019. The next big question was how to use it in developing products.
As the team of scientists and technocrats again jumped into research, they realised that graphene had several anti-microbial properties.
The basic idea was to use graphene as one of the raw materials and further scale its production by introducing it in several fields of application.
“The purpose here is to enhance the performance of the existing raw material or development of products that are sustainable to scale up, and solve the real world problem with the integration of graphene into them that has amazing properties.”
Despite hailing from a commerce background, Vikas has been able to report breakthroughs in this highly complex scientific field. “We dug deeper to understand graphene and its integration with a new or existing material at its atomic level.”
With this as the core, the company was able to roll out two products last year- a range of face masks and air conditioner filters that are powered by graphene silver nanotechnology.
All these products have Graphene as the key material in them, which enhances the functionality and properties of the existing product.
The company is National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) certified. Vikas also adds, “As a company, we have a policy of not going to market until we have strong evidence in hand to prove our technology.”
Talking about the masks, he explains that during tests as per the ISO 18184 protocol, antiviral testing against the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) virus showed a 99 percent reduction and kill rate of 99 percent in just a matter of seconds.
Explaining how this works, Vikas says silver granules are put in the membranes that form the outer coating of the mask, and this thin layer helps in controlling the virus.
The same membranes are also put in the filters of air conditioners which are installed into the air conditioners.
The products sell through both online and offline routes including ecommerce websites such as Amazon and Flipkart. The company also sells through its own website under the brand name of G1 Wonders.
Although the company is new, Vikas says it has clocked a revenue of Rs 3 crore since its inception. He also claims that the brand has sold over 2 lakh masks and over 20,000 filter membranes so far.
Face masks and AC filters
Competition and the way forward
While the company is excited with the number of opportunities in this space, Vikas is also aware of growing competition. Several companies such as Log 9 Materials, Nopo Nano and a few more are already operating in this space.
Having complete control over the supply chain is what separates the company from its competitors, according to Vikas. “We have control over the entire ecosystem of graphene, from mining of graphite (the source material), synthesising graphene derivatives, till end product development or application in accordance with the needs of the market.”
Going forward, the company plans to enter into water filtration, and the lithium-ion battery manufacturing space. Another product that it is developing can also be used for oil disaster management.
Oil spills are very common in the industry. Sometimes, the oil spill is so enormous that it leads to significant losses as retrieving oil from water is difficult. Nanomatrix Materials is developing a product called oil sorbent pads which will help in retrieving spilled oil from oceans sustainably.