For engineering student Sharad Patil, inspiration to create an R&D enterprise occurred three years ago while he was out on his farm and fields. During this time, he noticed how the labourers were working on sowing fertilizer across the land and observed the conditions that they were in. Evidently, many of them had a difficult time, often having their backs bent and dealing with muddy conditions. Seeing these struggles, Sharad wanted to help them by searching for equipment that eased their burdens. These initiatives only failed after contacting government shops, call centres, and agricultural universities that provided little answers for helping them sow fertilizer. The lack of answers provided only motivated his engineering mindset to find his own solutions instead.
From pipe networks to bags, the young engineering student, along with his partners, devised several innovations to make the fertilizing job easier for farm labourers. Not all of the inventions have been successful. But Sharad began to reach hope when he created a portable machine that could be carried on labourers’ backs. After some tinkering, the prototype became perfected, having the ability to sow fertilizer at crop networks in optimal quantities as well as having both automated and manual options. The success of this project brought all sorts of inspiration to grow into something much more.
Co-founding the enterprise with fellow students Nandita Yenagi and Shubham Patil, the trio founded Teknovator Solutions, an enterprise that sought to create technological solutions for agriculture. With a team of around 8 people, it was in the startup’s interest to pursue the biggest market, that being of the agricultural sector. The intersection with entrepreneurship only grew when they participated in TALAASH, a “Technopreneur” event in 2015 supported by LEAD, nanoPix, Sandbox Startups, and the Deshpande Foundation. Their impressive ideas lead them to winning in the event itself, receiving seed funding of 1lakh rupees and further increasing the viability of their business. The trio have also won in events such as the Yuva Summit and Sandbox’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.
To the co-founders, it was Sandbox Startups itself that inspired them to turn their project into a viable business venture. Upon their incubation in the 2014-2015 year, they received helpful mentorship and a workplace to continue developing their ideas. In fact, nanoPix, the first incubatee of Sandbox Startups, was generous in offering technical mentorship and funding for Teknovator Solutions’ development. As for their technological development, the Belgaum startup has already developed 6-7 technologies and is at the stage of production to develop their prototypes for assisting farmers.
But like many students, the co-founders are faced with limited time, splitting it between going to classes and staying up for their enterprise up to 2-3am every night. But these setbacks fail to stop the momentum of these highly innovative individuals. With customer feedback, the reception from farmers after testing their prototypes has been so good that they would actually refuse to give the technologies back. A patent has been also filed with 7 major claims in intellectual property for their works. And to add to these milestones, the media has gained a fair amount of coverage on Teknovator Solutions in both the newspapers and on television.
Although they are currently focused on research and intending to focus more on business later, the success they have received has been nothing short of remarkable. With hopes to start production in January 2017, it will be exciting to see their transition from prototyping to marketing their innovations in the agricultural market.
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