ET’s Power of Ideas is not about metropolitan themes set in concrete jungle, it’s a lot about earthy ideas from sons of the soil. The final list of the programme would not have been complete without ideas from the sector that employs 60% of the country’s population, agriculture. Although, the ideas in the rural and agriculture sector were few, but interestingly, they came from very young entrepreneurs.
For instance, 25-year-old Avinash Veerappa from Bangalore saw his power of idea germinate from his love for mushrooms. When he surveyed the market in his city, he discovered that an unsteady supply of mushrooms was leading to a huge unfulfilled demand.
He studied the demand-supply gap in the market and evolved a business plan for cultivating mushrooms in greenhouses near Bangalore. “We will cultivate different types of mushrooms, like oyster and milky, that are not cultivated in the country,” said Mr Veerappa. These varieties have longer shelf life, which is key to marketing mushrooms, he said. “One key finding of my research was that mushrooms available in the market were not cleaned because of their lower shelf life,” he added.
He visited two central government institutes and found varieties that were more nutritious and had longer shelf life. Mr Veerappa plans to brand his mushrooms ‘Mushy More’ and will initially sell them in Bangalore, Coorg and Mysore. Utilising his background in genetics, Mr Veerappa will undertake research on mushrooms to develop more nutritious varieties. “The Power of Ideas is my chance to get funding for the business,” he said. He is looking at Rs 15 lakh funding to establish his business, which is in trial stage now.
Mr Veerappa is not the only one. With a rural focus, Atin Garg, too, is keen to get funding for his business plan of milking high-yielding HF variety of cows. Mr Garg said that most of the milk produced in the country comes from buffaloes and is not suitable for dairy products since it has a high fat content. “Cow’s milk is preferable for dairy products,” he explains. The HF variety of cows costs Rs 50,000 each and is known for its high produce. He plans to spend Rs 2 crore on buying 400 cows and has already spoken to cooperatives and companies interested in buying milk. “Selling milk is not a problem in India,” he said. The atmosphere in his Sadhaura village on the HPHaryana border is suitable for breeding the foreign cows, he plans to buy. The business, he said, is a profitable one, which includes capital gains at regular intervals. “We can sell some of the reproduced cows,” he said. He is confident that the business can break even in a year-and-a-half.
Both Mr Veerappa and Mr Garg were happy they attended the session organised by ET, along with angel partner Indian Angel Network. It helped them to understand what the investor is looking for in a business plan.