Tuesday, September 20, 2011
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Their royal water dream a reality now – CIOL News Reports
Their royal water dream a reality now
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
CHENNAI, INDIA: These entrepreneurs do not chase unrealistic dreams. Nor do they dream of leading a lavish lifestyle in mansions. Their motto: To provide clean drinking water to villagers and make them entrepreneurs.
A five-member team from IIT Madras – Vinay Sridhar Lohit Vankina, Vishruth Srinath, Arun Chandran and Ananth Jain – has developed a cost-efficient water purifier, Acquaregia, which not only provides purified water at as cheap as 25 paise per litre but also helps create entrepreneurship in every street. The team won the Genesis 2011 award which consists of a cash prize of Rs. 2,40,000. They are also eligible to get seed funding from angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
The team was inspired by a course on entrepreneurship in their institution. They turned that inspiration into reality by being entrepreneurs themselves. “We met a lot of entrepreneurs while doing the course. The kind of impact their ventures had on people and society made me realize that I also wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Vinay.
According to him, entrepreneurship is about creating a change. “Whether it is in rural India or urban India, it doesn’t matter. I want India to be a better place. Aquaregia is one way by which a change can be made.”
Also read: Lack of enthusiasm bane of Indian SMEs
Aquaregia is a Latin word which means royal water and is used to describe a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids that can dissolve gold and platinum. “We feel water is as precious as gold and platinum. When we realized that 60 per cent of rural India does not have good drinking water, we thought we have to tackle the problem.”
They started their research on the project by speaking to scores of people. They found that the problem was not in the purification devices available in the market but with the cost. “We found that it is the cost that is a deterrent in rural areas. Even if you bring down the cost from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 1,500, the rural India can not afford that,” said Vinay. They then decided that the device should not run on electricity, but should be durable and portable.
How this device works
Acquaregia has two tanks with four purification bulbs placed in between. The impure water is poured into the top tank and it passes through the bulb which is a combination of sand, saw dust, nano silver particles, etc, and what comes out is purified water. The device has the capacity to purify water of all the impurities found in the ground water.
The team now plans to use the customised bulb made by Tata to purify water. Their requirement in the first year of venture could be Rs. 10-20 lakh. They plan to use Rs. 10 lakh for prototyping and another Rs. 10 lakh for marketing. Once launched, the product will be available in three sizes of 50 litres, 100 litres and 150 litres capacity.
Instead of selling it to every villager, they plan to sell it to one person in a street. This person in turn can sell water to others and become a local entrepreneur.
“We plan to encourage micro enterprises in villages. So we plan to have an entrepreneur in every street. We want to make use of the networks of NGOs to reach out to people. At present, the other two founders are in a village in Vellore district to study the exact requirements of the villagers,” Vinay explained.
Acquaregia also has plans to collaborate with banks to help village entrepreneurs in taking a loan to buy the product. The three states they are looking at are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
“We want each street in every village in south India to have our product so that they can get clean drinking water. That way, we can get rid of all the diseases that come with contaminated water. We are not looking at the financial gains as none of us dream of lavish lifestyle in mansions. We want to be entrepreneurs who can make an impact in the society.”
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