A lot of industries in India operate traditionally.
They develop the products based on the customer needs, market them through various means, and make the revenue.
But, there is an entrepreneur who didn’t want to follow this old-school path. Instead, he innovated an alternative method to run the business.
What is this method about?
It is communicating with the customers, understanding their requirements which are not fulfilled by the existing brands, and then designing the solutions to meet their needs.
How could he get this idea?
It is because he could realize these 3 facts about the customers:
- Their needs are evolving
- They search for modern functional solutions for the age-old challenges, and
- Look for great value for money
After thorough research, he delivered innovative products, crafted with care, at the best prices, to ease his customers’ everyday living; through his venture known as Lifelong Online.
Now you may be eagerly waiting to know the identity of this mastermind.
He is none other than Bharat Kalia, co-founder, and CEO at Lifelong Online.
He co-founded this venture in November 2015 with Varun Grover and Atul Raheja.
From Cushy Corporate Life to Unpredictable Journey
Bharat followed the same journey as any engineer-MBA graduate would do.
Prepare day and night for the interviews, clear it, get the job, work, and, umm… keep working (what else can an employee do in the corporate space, right?).
After getting into corporate life, Bharat worked really hard to make his identity. He reached a team manager position from an associate within 5 years of working at the management consultancy firm.
After this promotion, he could have continued his job and could have climbed the corporate ladder even higher… But, the year 2015, which saw the rise of e-commerce in India, brought a twist to his life journey.
While working at Bain & Company, a thought got stuck in his mind: No development or innovation has taken place in the home appliances and consumer durables sector .
Wait! There is a reason behind his thought – he had been using the same type of home appliances (and of course, with the same issues) that his parents used for nearly 20 to 30 years!
Even you might have faced this situation, right?
Bharat realized that the primary reason for this lack of development was that this product category contains bulky and inefficient methods of manufacturing and distribution.
This convinced Bharat that the consumer durables sector needed a digital revamp. And he took this opportunity to begin an exciting yet unpredictable journey of entrepreneurship with Lifelong Online.
How Does Lifelong Online Work?
“Consumer data will be the biggest differentiator in the next 2 to 3 years. Whoever unlocks the reams of data, and uses it strategically, will win,” – Angela Ahrendts.
And Bharat realized this back in 2015, don’t you think?
Lifelong Online could create its identity in the consumer durable sector within a few years of its launch.
Do you want to know how?
By operating on the customer-centric business model.
Here are the business processes that Lifelong Online follows:
- Identification of customers’ pain points through product review insights
- Designing the product and optimizing the packaging and supply chain
- Conducting the test launch of the newly developed product and collecting the feedback
- Conducting market attractiveness check
- Pre-launch quality testing
- Product launch and distribution through D2C (direct-to-customer) model, and
- Continuously managing and analyzing the feedback and improving every product
Bharat and his team started their journey by launching their first product – a mixer grinder.
And then there was no looking back for them.
Currently, it has a portfolio of products belonging to these categories:
- Home appliances
- Lifestyle, and
Lifelong Online sells its products through its platform and e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Udaan. And became a fast-growing, digital-first consumer durable brand of India.
You may have one question in mind, “How is it possible for Lifelong Online to offer the products at competitive prices?”.
This is because Lifelong Online doesn’t own the factories that manufacture their products, but only lease them. Therefore, no capital investments and maintenance cost involved.
This asset-light manufacturing model with no requirement of middlemen in distribution (D2C model) helps Lifelong Online to serve the customers at the best market prices.
Pandemic Couldn’t Shatter Him
When there are no fish, anglers (fishermen) make nets, they say.
Because when again fishing begins, they would have more nets to catch the fishes.
And that’s what Bharat followed during the lockdown.
He destructed the team a little and repurposed them into product development. This made them have a variety of products to offer when the e-commerce market returned to normal.
A smart businessman, don’t you agree?
When the entire world got hit by the pandemic, do you know what Bharat gave the first preference to?
It was his team.
He made sure that every employee was working from home in their hometown during the lockdown. The graphic designers and finance team needed the desktops to continue functioning, and he arranged them too.
Hence, Lifelong Online could manage all the operations smoothly, even when the outer world was in chaos.
Richard Branson once said, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.”
And Bharat’s Lifelong Online is the best example. We, at the TBM desk, wish Bharat and his team all the luck and success. And hope they solve many more customers’ pain points and serve them with incredible products.
A Young Mind Who Dreams of Bringing a Holistic E-mobility Transition
He wants to free India from depending on foreign technologies and resources to manufacture efficient batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
There was a boy who applied life hacks early in his teenage life.
Do you know what these life hacks are?
In the Indian context, it is nothing but the ‘Jugaad’ (Now you got it!).
He could pay his rent when he was in San Francisco, he could figure out how to start a business with no funding in hand, all with the help of the life hacks.
Amazing! Isn’t it?
And these life hacks made him realize one thing: If he finds a problem, and he would take the ownership to find the solution for it, he would definitely be successful one day.
And that’s what made him one of the youngest successful entrepreneurs of India.
He is none other than Akhil Aryan.
In 2016, he began his venture, ION Energy, which operates in the space of Battery Management System (BMS), and battery intelligence. Hence, ION energy aims to build the technologies to speed up earth’s transition to an all-electric planet.
The Idea Behind ION Energy
Did you know the problem faced by electric mobility inspired the idea behind ION Energy?
Akhil had a keen interest in the physics of energy and software since he was a young boy. Before ION Energy, he worked as CPO at Haptik until 2015.
He started reading about electric vehicles and wanted to find out whether electric mobility would turn into a big thing in the future or not.
At the same time, his father decided to sell his Skoda Superb car.
But Akhil insisted his father not sell, instead, keep it so that he could convert it into an electric vehicle.
In 2016, as Akhil was reading about electric vehicles, he found that these get built upon one fundamental component: the battery.
He read more books to determine the methods that would convert the internal combustion engine into an electric one. He ordered components online to manufacture the electric vehicle battery.
As he was going through this process; he realized, there are few concerns associated with these Electric Vehicle (EV), and Energy Storage System (ESS) batteries:
- These are very expensive (constitute 40-45% of the total cost of the vehicle), and that these are complicated components
- These don’t last for a longer time if the user doesn’t maintain them carefully
And he also found out the significant factors of an efficient battery, which are:
- Safety, and
What would make an EV battery last longer and perform better?
Akhil has an answer for you: It is the installation of BMS that improves the performance and shelf-life of lithium-ion batteries that power EVs and ESS.
He soon found out that no players in the Indian market were into BMS and battery intelligence. And the Indian electric vehicle manufacturers depend on either European or American advanced technology.
He wanted to change this scenario.
In 2016, Akhil launched ION Energy in Mumbai, which supplies world-class products and technology to the EV manufacturing companies and ESS for renewable energy.
And guess what? In the following year, Akhil could acquire a France-based company, Freemens SAS, an 8-year-old company operating in BMS space. And currently, ION has offices in India and France.
An exciting and unusual first year for a startup, don’t you think?
What Makes ION Energy Different From the Rest
How does ION Energy stand out from its competitors?
It is their BMS technology that is easily adaptable to India’s roads and the environment.
In 2019, his team could deploy BMS technology in 30,000 auto and scooters in India and currently export products to 12 countries worldwide.
Akhil revealed that there are many similar technologies and products present in the market, but they do not satisfy the needs of the Indian situation.
These products are usually exported abroad, and their cost is very high, which makes them inaccessible to the local customers.
And this is where ION Energy scores. ION Energy’s BMS technology is available at a comparatively lower price and has already deployed its technology in a larger volume, helping them gain customers’ trust.
This BMS technology is a cloud-connected system that allows them to see how their batteries are being used. The cloud system then analyses this data to improve the performance of their batteries.
Akhil expressed he focuses on building relationships with Indian and international companies that desire to have their battery system.
He does this by approaching the battery components assembling companies to sell his BMS technology, which later gets transferred to the vehicle manufacturing companies.
How Does the Future Look Like?
Akhil has a vision of localizing the Research and Development (R&D) activities in India and manufacturing top-notch products for EVs.
Currently, ION Energy is operational in 12 countries, including India, France, Germany, and the UK. And he is looking forward to expanding it further by raising funds.
In the financial year of 2019-20, he could witness the growth of 400%, which he is expecting to remain the same for the next 2 to 3 years.
Akhil, who got featured in Forbes Asia 30 under 30, shares that one should know the ‘what’ of their life, and then should figure out or experiment with how to achieve them.
He also believes that if you have an idea, share it with others to get their perspective and feedback on your idea.
He advises the aspiring entrepreneurs not to break the head to find a million-dollar idea. Instead, look out for the problems or inefficiencies and then start the venture to solve that problem. We, at TBM, wish and hope that Akhil and the entire team of ION Energy make India proud by launching their incredible products and technologies in the EV and ESS space. And inspire young minds to find and solve problems through their entrepreneurship journey.
An ‘Alexa’ for Doctors? Why Not? Said This Techie
He is the mastermind behind the clinical voice assistant tool. And he has a vision of having healthcare professionals with no burnouts.
We’re sure that most of you are aware of the first three voice assistants and are using those in your day-to-day life.
Now, you might be wondering what this fourth one is?!
Well, you will get to know about that in no time but before that; do you know,
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine states that physicians spend 27% of their time consulting patients?
And do you know where do physicians spend 49.2% of their remaining time?
It is in doing paperwork! And it also includes the use of the EHR (Electric Health Record) system.
The primary reasons behind physicians’ burnout could be:
- No help available for doctors and physicians to do paperwork
- Clinics and hospitals are reluctant to invest in clerical and administrative support
Well, it is! It is totally related to our talks.
There is a technology that can assist the doctors in the monotonous documentation work; saves the precious time of the patients’ as well as their own.
And that technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Leveraging this same technology, a US-based startup founded by Punit Soni has developed a clinical voice assistant named Suki.
It is aiming to help doctors and physicians with documentation work, and create more time for doctors to treat their patients, which is indeed their primary job.
A brilliant move of technology into the healthcare system, don’t you think?
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The Beginning of Suki
The co-founder of Suki, Punit, is a techie guy who has served as lead project manager for 8 years in Google, and chief product officer in Flipkart.
He was mainly into the development of mobile applications and games.
So, how did this nerdy techie get introduced into the healthcare system?
It was when he shadowed the doctors in a clinic.
When he was in the clinic, there was a stressful situation wherein many patients were getting treated, and many intense works were taking place.
In such a situation, the most distracted persons he could find were the doctors!
Because he found them immersed in the documentation work instead of treating the patients.
This was when he came up with the thought of creating a tool that can assist the healthcare professionals in doing the paperwork. And hence they could focus on their patients with more care and empathy.
And in 2016, Punit started his journey in the healthcare industry by launching Suki.
A Much-Needed Tool for Physicians
How does Suki work?
This clinical voice assistant records, transcribes, and organizes doctors’ conversations with their patients. And then, it completes the data entry that is required for EHR.
By taking care of this tedious documentation process, Suki has enhanced the relationship between a doctor and a patient.
As per a recent white paper published by Suki, this voice assistant has increased the time spent by the doctors with their patients by 12% by cutting down the note-taking time by 76%.
This is undoubtedly a win-win situation for both patients and doctors.
When a happy and stress-free physician spends more time with the patients, treatment would be more effective. And that would cause faster recovery.
And for the doctors, the application of voice assistant brings a financial benefit of $30,000 or more a year on average.
And hence, Suki, as a tool, has improved the healthcare system by :
- Structuring the format of the healthcare management
- Happier physicians with no burnout
- Increase in the profit of healthcare organization, and
- A better outcome for patients
In one of his interviews, Punit expressed that the feedback from the CIO (Chief Information Officer), CMIO (Chief Medical Informatics Officer), and administrators were critical for Suki.
But what mattered to him the most was how Suki would help physicians work professionally and make their lives easier.
He is undoubtedly the rarest technology professional who realized that physician burnout is the most critical public health crisis that had to be addressed.
The Challenges He Had to Face
The journey of Suki was not a cakewalk.
Punit, and his technology team, had little to no idea about how a day would be like in a physician’s life, or they couldn’t spare time to observe and study their workflow.
So, to get access to the data that would help him develop Suki, he took physicians onboard as his colleagues.
Was it an effortless task for him to recruit and keep physicians in his team?
No, not at all.
It became difficult for Punit to create a workspace that could be ideal for both physicians and techies.
But he knew that to make Suki a success, both technologists and physicians had to work hand in hand. Therefore, even though it was challenging to understand each other’s work culture, ethics, and process, it was all worth it in the end.
The next challenge ahead of him was getting permission from physicians to introduce Suki in clinics and hospitals.
But most of the physicians did not agree to use the tool that was built only for them.
Before Suki, the technology field had developed many tools for physicians but not keeping them in mind.
These tools, instead of easing their work, added more burden on them. They used these tools only because the system forced them to do so.
When Punit approached them with Suki, most of the physicians were hesitant. But he assured them, saying that, if they used it, from day 1, their time spent on paperwork would reduce by 50 – 70%.
And guess what?
Physicians and the healthcare system agreed to welcome Suki.
And hence, it got its entry into the healthcare industry.
Even after Suki’s successful launch, Punit had to address questions regarding his intention behind this tool.
“Are you going to replace doctors with Suki?”, many curious people couldn’t resist but ask him.
He replied with an explanation that Suki has no intention of replacing doctors. But only to assist them so that they could do their job of treating their patients in the best way possible.
How could anyone think of replacing our super strong-minded professional folks, isn’t it?
What’s New in Suki?
“It was a tough job to make Suki a reliable, seamless, perfect and consistent tool for healthcare, where one can not entertain mistakes,” says Punit.
He has plans of scaling up Suki and making it even more reliable and efficient.
In this direction, Suki has come up with a newly updated platform that incorporates data collected by Suki and teaches the AI to respond to the users faster and accurately.
And that is S3 or the Suki Speech Service platform. With this new upgrade, doctors can communicate with Suki casually, without confusing it.
Punit has a vision of making Suki an invisible and assistive tool to the healthcare professionals, and hopes that many technologies would show up to upgrade the healthcare industry.
We, at TBM, wish the team of Suki all the best for future endeavours. And hope that Suki would bring a smile on each physicians’ face because they deserve it.
Here Is Why Entrepreneurs Should Go Out and Start Networking
Don’t hide behind. Face your circles. It’s high time you start networking.
We have often watched Hindi films where protagonists aspire to be a rich man as a kid. And hence they start thinking of different business ideas to be successful.
Well, this happens in reality as well. Who doesn’t dream of starting their own business one day, right?
However, business is not as easy as eating a piece of cake. And no, you don’t need to have a PhD or an MBA degree to start a business.
You just need to have clarity of thoughts; about the business idea, sales and marketing, and most importantly, NETWORKING.
Today, everyone needs everything. The circle of needs and demands has become wider. Everything in entrepreneurship is becoming more interconnected. Just like the Past, Present and Future in the web series “Dark”.
Networking is the one and only way to get to know what’s around you. From having conversations with your parents to your fruit vendors or even your house helps, you never know what brings you to the peak of your business.
We will share our two cents to convince you enough to go out and start networking, if you are a budding entrepreneur. Pardon us if these two cents become 4 or more, but you will definitely not regret reading this till the end.
Entrepreneurship And Networking
The first thing that any budding entrepreneur does, while starting their own business, is to spread the word about it.
The first set of people that they talk to are their family, friends, and even banks (for financial purposes). Although these efforts may or may not materialize into something fruitful, you learn a thing or two about the ABCs of networking.
Networking is one way to get clarity of thoughts about your business. It’s like building a blueprint of your business in mind. You not only know the industry better, but also get to know the loopholes and healthy shortcuts that will save time and increase efficiency.
In the ABCs of business, “A” stands for “recognizing the needs and expectations of people around you.”
Networking is the first step to recognize the gap between demand and supply. It’s similar to providing electricity to those areas with no light, and the idea and motivation behind it.
So now that you are still reading, let’s go further and discuss the importance of networking in entrepreneurship:
Builds Trust And Respect
You may or may not earn money every day from your business. But once you earn trust and respect in the market, there is no way that people will forget you easily.
It’s a fact.
Earning money is easy.
But earning trust and respect takes more effort.
Networking with your business peers or veterans will get you noticed. Initially, you won’t find them paying a heed to you, but once they do, they are never going to leave you.
People believe in aggressive marketing to increase sales and business. But try aggressive networking instead, and there will be no stopping for you in the future.
Remember, making friends in schools and colleges? It’s a similar situation in entrepreneurship, too.
Going social is one way you get confidence in networking with people in the future.
Did you ever come across someone who would go to a restaurant with you and start talking to the waiters and receptionists?
Well, you may feel awkward about it, but that’s their first step to get to know the surrounding market.
Start from a party that you attend, be it a family party or a party with friends. Join a group of your choice and listen to the conversations. Once you get the grip of it, start by putting forth your views and then turn it around to your business idea. This may look boring and slow, but slow and steady will definitely win the race.
Today, there are many millennial-made apps, like Bumble, LinkedIn, etc. that encourage people to build an entrepreneurial network in any industry of your choice. Start posting. Start swiping right to the connections that interest you.
For that matter, you can even join dating apps to build professional connections. Your first conversation about your business will be a good ice-breaker (You’ll thank us later for this pro tip).
Don’t Be Selective In Your Own Circles
A very common mistake that most “choosy” or “picky” people do, is being very selective in deciding who to network with.
Today, almost all industries are interconnected. A top-class hospital will always need catering or food services for their staff and patients. A hotel will always want to have options for good clothes vendors for room and restaurant linen.
So if you limit yourself to one or two industries, and sideline others, chances are that you may lose a lot of opportunities.
Expand yourself. Even if you are not sure about it at first. Take that first call that says “our budget is low”, when you know that you have a different area of expertise to explore.
Your Shyness And Fear Will Only Put You Behind The Race
Entrepreneurship requires you to go “out-of-your-circles” more than going “out-of-the-box”.
You are likely to face uncomfortable situations all the time. You have to become an extrovert if you are a highly introverted person. You can’t hide yourself from people who you dislike. You can’t say goodbye to those people whom you are done working with.
Your fear, your shyness will start putting you behind the race of a successful entrepreneur.
You have to be outspoken. Pave your way and lead it too. Take others along the way and build a huge business “family”.
Remember Abhishek Bachchan in the film “Guru”?
No, you need not be exactly like him, but you are expected to know why to be like him. And take your own decisions from the existing lessons.
It’s A Long Road That Will Definitely Lead You To Your Vision
Networking is a continuous process. You don’t stop after a certain level of achievement.
Starting a business is not enough, you have to keep it running. And for that purpose, you may need to explore your potential networks.
It’s often expected from budding entrepreneurs to network only with business-minded people to start and run a business successfully. What they don’t realize is that business is made by people, for people, and with people.
So start networking – whether virtually, or face-to-face. Get that business idea in place, get started with your plans, and you will surely reach a place where you can write “successful entrepreneur” in your social media bio.
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