India has immense potential in Solar Energy. ulaunch brings the success story of a young entrepreneur who is bringing sustainable development to all.
An entrepreneur often encompasses multiple roles and has to don each one with equal vigour. He dares to take risks and listen to his heart to work for a cause greater than himself and a dream that he believes in. The founder of solar energy firm, Shaktisteller Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Mr Ankit Roy, is not just any other entrepreneur. A young player in the solar energy industry, Ankit brings innovation and cutting-edge solutions through his in-depth understanding of the technology involved. He is among those who want to use their knowledge and life to serve the greater good of society.
ulaunch brings to you this interaction with Mr Ankit Roy:
Q: We know the story of Shaktisteller, but what is the story of ANKIT and PRAVEEN till you became the co-founders?
I was working as a Research Engineer in Essel Group when I realized I wanted something different for myself and decided to quit. After this life-altering decision, I chanced upon a wonderfully knowledgeable person- Dr Vijay Pandey and started researching and working together on topics of mutual interest. I remember being in Navi Mumbai when I learned that the per day energy requirements of the sub-city is unimaginably high. After this astonishing discovery, I realized the urgency of opting for clean energy. I was aware that Madhya Pradesh is opening up for solar energy, and I realized it was the right time to register a company there. Though I had become a social entrepreneur on papers but couldn’t devote much time due to some family problems. Still, I managed to get one order and the company generated its first revenue of Rs. 3 lakhs. In between of all this, fate played its role, and I bumped into Praveen at a coffee outlet. I discovered he was perfect to be a partner as he shared the same vision and had the same spark with guts to utilise talent for a greater purpose. The partnership started that day itself and continues to date.
Q: We all have been reading about Sustainable Development & Renewable Resources since childhood, but we do not tend to act until we realize the urgency involved. When and how did you realize the importance of Sustainable Development?
I was researching Maharashtra, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh regarding the scope of solar energy. I found out that Nagpur alone used a staggering 6 Million kWh of energy, on a per-day basis. The notable point is that this much energy will be difficult to procure from two to three generations. I became sceptical of the availability of so much energy, and that curiosity took me to the transmission company. This is when I realized the extent to which our supply system is stressed. Power is cut continuously in some parts of the city to switch to other areas. In a situation of emergency, power is purchased from private companies, where price lingers from a base of Rs. 14 and can go up a whopping 100 times that amount!
The underlying problem lies with the fact that even though India enjoys a fabulous cultural reputation and political history, but is somewhere left behind in the technological race. We have only copied and pasted the methodologies of the western world without focusing on the systematical dynamism of our country.
Though we actively consider sustainable development as the need for the hour, how much do we know about it?
This is why engineers, who understand the technicalities, should be working towards addressing such problems.
Q: How did the idea of creating a solar energy venture come up?
Back in the days when I was a mere employee in the big company, I was frequently transferred from one place to another and somewhere felt that I was not receiving the respect to which an engineer is entitled to. Well now that I am wearing the business shoes myself, I understand their problems too. Although being an angry young man I had the fire of doing something of my own. This inner burn and a freshly induce knowledge of the reality of the power sector combined gave birth to SHAKTISTELLER.
Q: What was your idea of an entrepreneur or a social entrepreneur, before you became one? How the actual scenario of being a social entrepreneur is similar or different from it?
I feel that there are two quadrants of being a social entrepreneur. One is obviously the money-making part, without which no firm can survive. The other one is the work which we are doing. The satisfaction derived from this work is personally greater than any green notes ever can provide. We are in a way responsible for the well-being and continuation of humanity, like superheroes. Generally, one unit of the smallest solar panel system is priced at one and a half lakhs, but we from our sides provide that for free to many villages to light up their lives & to create awareness about renewable resources & sustainable development. This, I proudly feel is a show-off which only that person can do who has the courage of becoming a social entrepreneur.
Q: Do you think that there is enough awakening among people or the market as a whole regarding their social responsibilities?
Talking about awakening, yes there is one, that too in an enormous amount. But the direction towards which it is pointed is something to be thought of. It has become a general notion that if a vendor is from a foreign country, say Germany, he/she is assumed to be the better. This judgmental nature of people makes it difficult for new local vendors to come up. There should be an awakening where people interact more, rather than just becoming zombies to digitally projected images of a firm.
Q: Is the government doing enough to promote sustainable development according to you? If not what according to you are the new policies which should come up?
To be very honest, NO! The policies are made to favour big companies in this sector rather than to promote the young ones. The implementation is done in a haphazard manner where they can’t even produce a bill without a fault and the technological arrangements are a big disaster. Every time I visit the entitled office of the government body, I get the same assurance to commit our customers of subsidies, but in last three years, not a single customer of our has been able to avail one. There is an inescapable red-tapism in the industry, due to which the work is unnecessarily delayed.
Talking about policies, good ones are made on the central level, but as they percolate down in the state level, many essential elements are tapered off as per the needs, rendering the policy useless.
Q: What is the one thought, or a source of inspiration that makes you stay put?
Electricity bills, as one may know, have been always trolled for being too high. It’s not only a matter of budget but now it has become an active topic for political mileage. In a scenario like this when someone’s bill comes in negative, nothing can be more satisfactory. The feeling that we are contributing to the making of clean energy which is a paramount need for today’s generation is the best one.
Q: Being a co-founder, you become a leader by default. How do you picture a worthy leader and what similar qualities do you think you possess?
A leader should be the one who incorporates all the qualities of a good leader but does not want to be one. There should be an intelligent combination of ruthlessness at the same time softness in him/her. A good leader is one who connects with people so well, that the people start to visualize the leader’s vision. There should be a vibrant positivity which surrounds him/her and makes others believe in themselves as well as in him.
I think both me and Praveen make a good pair and together we support each other well. Sometimes when I become ruthless, he becomes the soft one and vice versa. Together, we have successfully put our vision in our employee’s mind, and we realized this when we observed that even during this unfortunate pandemic, most of them showed utmost sincerity towards their work, irrespective of the fact that we were not able to pay them for three months.
Q: There has been a lot of speculation on how our world would be in the future (maybe 2050). What is your take on to the popular debate that are we moving towards glory or destruction considering the world’s current status regarding the environment and the plans related to it?
On this question, I remember the famous dialogue of Jurassic Park, “Life has a way of growing”. It will be impractical to say that life wouldn’t exist. It definitely will, but in which state, that is something to be thought of. Observing the pace at which the Antarctic glaciers are melting, or the enormous amount of pollution which the greenhouses are giving birth to, the state wouldn’t be a pleasant one. A drastic change is needed. We are obviously moving towards destruction but as quoted earlier, life has a way of growing. Maybe something will happen and reset everything, you never know. It has happened earlier as well.
Related: Affordable And Clean Energy (UNSDGs)
Q: What are some messages which you want to give to the larger audience and especially to the youth?
The first and foremost is that choose your heroes wisely, because they are the ones you would be following, so they better be good ones. Never run towards glitters and riches of the world, they are an illusion. Do what is needed for the greater purpose, and listen to your inner voice. Finally, GO GREEN!