Existence is energy. Universe is energy. Humanity is energy. To exist itself requires energy.
From the wheel to the fire to developing ingenuity in converting one form of energy into another to move humans and materials from one place to another, to discovering electricity, the story of humankind has been the story of energy and the story of evolution itself. In fact, it stands to reason that the energy stored in the form of carbon-based hydrocarbons represents using the energy of evolution for the future energy needs of humanity, slated to number ten billion by the year 2050.
There are two ways to combat the environmental repercussions caused by the energy requirements of the world. One, to accelerate the move to a smart energy grid based on renewable energy sources and two, to upgrade existing infrastructure like buildings and public services by finding more efficient ways of energy utilization through design and innovation.
It is the responsibility and a collaborative effort between individuals, institutions and organizations alike to create systems to make our future energy-proof for future generations. The market will move towards the arrival of several niche brands and companies, supported by public institutions and impact focussed funds, to train their eyes on the business verticals which consume the most amount of energy, from real estate and transportation to manufacturing and hospitality.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Sustainable Design Consultants operates in the real estate sector with the aim to help customers reduce their energy use and carbon footprint while increasing their energy efficiency. By using creative design solutions to complex problems our goal is to create a cleaner planet for the future generations.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Buildings contribute approximately 40% of the primary energy use on a national and global scale. Majority of our electricity is produced via dirty coal which takes a toll on our planet and our people. Cities such as Bangalore and Delhi are getting choked up right before our eyes. Plus, our energy-producing capacity is stretched thin and load shedding is a common occurrence. Thus by increasing the efficiency of our buildings in terms of energy and water use, we can make a significant difference to the energy use portfolio of our country. More efficient energy use reduces the load in the energy grid. More efficient energy use leads to lesser pollution. And an added benefit is that it reduces the operating costs for the building owners and facility managers significantly.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I have been passionate about sustainability since a young age. I did my undergraduate and masters in Architectural Engineering from Purdue University and Penn State Universities, in the United States before working there for 3 years in the field. This experience gave me a great understanding of the industry and led me to think about how we can make a difference in India. When the time came to decide if I should stay in the USA or move back I was ready to embrace the new challenge. And I have been doing it for the last three years now.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We have our office in Upper Palace Orchards which is well located since we are quite central. Client meetings and site visits are convenient from our location.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Speaking about my industry specifically it is that the awareness is not there completely about how dire our situation is with regards to climate change. Many people still think sustainability is a bogus field since the impacts are not immediately visible. Are the younger generations being made aware of the situation? Are schools and colleges teaching them about how to live sustainably? Communicating this message and reaching people is the biggest obstacle we are facing.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
There are many engineering service providers servicing this industry who are capable. However, the issue arises in that we have no industry-wide certification so this allows any untrained persons to come in and claim to be specialists. We feel that we are differentiated since we have developed an outside perspective and we try to find creative solutions that work for the client or the architect or the designer. Most other professionals want to get the work done as soon as possible to get their money so they can move to the next project. We believe that we have an obligation to take the time to think about the project and provide the best solution possible.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
It’s very hard! Especially having a small team you have to wear a lot of different hats. Balancing design work with business development with admin work with training takes up a lot of time and can get very stressful. We have found that implementing systems from the start is beneficial in the long run. Having said that I realise that downtime is required and ensure that everybody works only 5 days a week which is not the norm. Weekends are spent playing a sport, catching a movie or getting outdoors and making the most of your personal time.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
At moment SDC is completely self funded.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I would not say this is about me rather about our industry as a whole and what we are trying to achieve. As mentioned, stakeholders are only slowly understanding the severity of our situation. So people are very surprised about how passionate I am about our environment!
What gets you excited about this company?
When we can get a person to care about sustainability and think in those terms then that is the best feeling.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
Through the week my schedule is pretty much the same. Get to the office by 9 am and get done around 7 pm. I play badminton immediately after work and then catch up on the news over dinner followed by a good nights sleep.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
This venture was started by me. However the staff I have employed all share the same passion for sustainability that I do.
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