The Sury On Apollo charges a cellphone near Victoria Memorial in Calcutta. Telegraph picture
Three techies, guided by XLRI, are helping hundreds and thousands of people in rural Jharkhand and elsewhere charge their mobile phones with green energy.
Sury On, the firm launched by the engineers and supported by the management cradle’s incubation programme for young entrepreneurs, has started generating huge demand for its everlasting solar mobile chargers.
Amaleshwar Sinha, Sourav Das and Abhishek Mitra, the trio behind Sury On, have named the charger Sury On Apollo and are manufacturing it from Calcutta.
While Amaleshwar and Sourav are alumni of IIT-Kharagpur, Abhishek is from NIT-Nagpur. Amaleshwar and Abhishek have left their jobs at Tata Motors and Bajaj Auto, respectively, to focus on the business venture. Sourav is still working with Tata Steel and is a consultant with Sury On. He is based in Jamshedpur, while his two other colleagues live in Calcutta.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Sourav said they had received bulk orders for the charger from outfits like Kalamandir and SEEDS in Jamshedpur and Usha Martin’s Ranchi-based Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra. Delhi-based NGO Goonj has ordered a consignment of 300.
“The idea germinated at a Sakchi café, where the three of us met. Earlier versions of the product received some complaints, which we sorted out over time. We have received 500 orders for February. Queries are pouring in. Thanks to XLRI for its business tips because this entire project was just an idea when we met professor Madhukar Shukla,” Sourav said, adding that they had plans to manufacture solar stoves and LED lanterns in the future.
The incubation programme of XLRI was launched to help young entrepreneurs find a foothold in business. Under the initiative, the management cradle provides entrepreneurs with infrastructure such as office address, seed funding and technical support in business plans, finance and networking.
“We offered financial and marketing guidelines. We asked Sury On to sell in bulk because a simple product might face challenges if sold through retail,” said Shukla, a faculty member of XLRI and chairperson of the cradle’s Fr Arrupe Centre for Ecology and Sustainability.
Sury On’s solar charger is fitted with multiple pins to fit sockets of all kinds. Priced competitively at Rs 450, the charger is ideal for rural pockets with erratic power supply. It can also prove useful during train journeys and road trips.
Sury On Apollo’s former model was incompatible to smartphones. The flaw has been partially fixed in the newer ones that charge smartphones, albeit slower than they charge low-end mobile sets.
Outfits that have ordered the chargers in bulk maintained that the product was well suited to villagers’ needs. “We had ordered some chargers so that villagers can stay in touch with us. Electricity is a problem in these hamlets and this charger helps tackle it. We have handed over some of these chargers to villagers, who are in turn selling them in their respective areas,” said Amitava Ghosh, secretary of Kalamandir.
SEEDS founder Shubhra Dwivedy said: “We have acquired some chargers and distributed them among our youth resource centres in villages. Now, people can charge their phones at the centre during power cuts.”