The start-up journey so far has been exciting, rewarding, challenging and frustrating. However, some questions that I have faced repeatedly are:
Why did I quit my job? and ;
Why of all things did I found an environmental engineering company?
These are the questions I will answer below.
As a qualified mechanical engineer, I have worked in the automotive sector for my entire career. However, as much as I enjoyed my work, I was acutely aware that the conventional approach to personal mobility is an inelegant solution. That initially led me to explore and research alternative fuels and propulsion technologies.
The electric car is not the silver bullet we all expect it to be. We only displace emissions, not contain them, while we have no solution to relieve congestion on our roads. Further, we don’t seem to consider the amount of energy consumed and carbon produced in the manufacture of each individual vehicle.
In the course of my research, I did come across a company in the UK which was using Anaerobic Digestion to treat domestic waste water, producing biogas, upgrading that biogas to a purer form of methane, and using it to power a car.
The more I studied, I came to realise that the techniques and technologies could be applied to benefit society and the environment. As a staunch nature lover, preserving our natural environment is a cause that is personally very dear to me.
Nevertheless, the thinking and the research would remain entirely theoretical unless practically applied, which is how Madon Applied Sciences LLP came to be born.
We are an absolute start-up, with no formal business background, but with a strong can-do attitude. Using a ‘First Principles’ approach, we have combined scientific research, technical training and common sense to devise sustainable and cost-effective interventions, primarily focussed on water re-use and energy conservation, with additional benefits including sanitation, health and climate change mitigation.
Yes, a revenue opportunity exists, and quite substantially at that, but we believe firmly in the principle of ‘Socially Responsible Capitalism’. A business exists to make money, but it should also contribute to the greater good of society.
Let’s not forget the scale of the problem at hand, a scale which is synonymous with India: a country with the seventh-largest geographical area, second-highest population and seventh-largest economy in GDP terms. However, the United Nations Development Programme ranks India’s Human Development Index 131st among 188 countries, while the International Monetary Fund ranks India 141st in per-capita wealth. These statistics are macro indicators of the problems facing us today.
Climate change is the big leveller, in metaphoric and literal terms. Rising sea levels will swallow much of Mumbai, our ‘financial capital’. Erratic and extreme weather events will result in a big drop in crop yields (as much as 35%), threatening our food security and creating conflict as food prices become unaffordable. Lack of clean water compounds the problem by contaminating produce, while also wrecking havoc through disease and epidemics.
To dismiss this spectre of doom (as some notable presidents have) is childish, but at the same time unbridled paranoia won’t help either. However, there is hope that with a scientific and systematic approach, we can create an ecologically sustainable and economically viable future, which is what we’ve set out to do. In the immortal words of Ghalib, Ummeed pey duniya qaayam hai.