This South Indian Angel could have the Solutions to Urban Waste Management, and Climate Change in India
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Mridula Ramesh is a name familiar across South India, not just as an investor associated with the Indian Angel Network (IAN) and the Chennai Angels (TCA) but also as an expert in urban waste management and climate change. Mridula has led investments in ventures working at offering solutions in these areas; and more. She is also the founder of Sundaram Climate Institute which is focussed on bringing a positive change across water and waste management through technology-driven models.
Analysing the “climate” of climate change – From an investment perspective
“Today, climate is changing drastically cross Indian cities. These effects can be felt more so in a geography like Bangalore which was not too long ago known as an air-conditioned city, and now ACs have virtually become the norm across a majority of homes and offices in the city,” states Mridula to Entrepreneur India.
She emphasizes the fact that people now have started sensing climate change and are beginning to show interest in taking steps to combat the phenomenon. This has led to Mridula evaluating new business deals frequently (from an investment perspective).
“I teach a course on “Introduction to Climate Change” and highlight entrepreneurial opportunities to students,” adds Ramesh.
As far as the actual evaluation of working models (of new ventures) are concerned, Ramesh states that the technology should be part of the solution, not the main focus. The entrepreneur is key – he or she needs to combine perseverance with passion. She considers two key aspects here with one being the actual problem solving and sector focus; and the other is scalability of the business which is a long-term focus. Her key investment in the sector includes Carbon Masters.
Addressing entrepreneurship in waste management and Cleantech
With waste management in urban Indian undoubtedly having turned into a great challenge, Ramesh says if only people are willing to pay for waste management, then the problem can be solved. She believes if people are unwilling to pay, no entrepreneur would find it viable to enter the waste management, which in turn poses challenges to attracting investments in the sector.
“If properly evaluated, around 600,000 new jobs can be created in waste management alone,” believes Ramesh.
For businesses in waste management, Ramesh advises entrepreneurs to be aware of even the minutest of nuances when it comes to problem solving in waste management, from changing their approach while targeting different types of customers, being mindful of regulations and using the right technology for managing each type of waste.
“It’s much harder to be an entrepreneur in this sector”, she says.
When Entrepreneur India brought up the issue of the crisis in Bangalore, with respect to garbage disposal and management, that caught the global eye, Ramesh says that while there are very few entrepreneurs in the domain; but she exudes confidence in her two investments in the erstwhile garden city through the Indian Angels Network. “Entrepreneurial interest is blossoming. I have spoken to six ventures in waste management in Bengaluru alone for funding,” she says. For starters, Ramesh has invested in Saahas Zero Waste which is a Bangalore-based firm working towards holistic waste management by leveraging people, and technology.
As far as Clean Energy and CleanTech is concerned, Ramesh offers illustrations such as a Solar-Powered DC Micro Grid which can power small homes in villages with its biggest advantage being cost-effectiveness based on its technology combinations. “A Solar-Powered DC Micro Grid could potentially address the electricity access in india. There is an opportunity here; but our payment culture is a bottleneck,” informs Ramesh.
Advice to startups
Strangely, Ramesh does not prefer being called an entrepreneur. Her approach has always been to “fail quickly” by executing small pilots.“The key for entrepreneurs and startups is to try to things in a small scale initially, learn and then scale quickly,” she advises.