Startup Sunday Season 2 Episode 24 (8minutes)

It’s time for the human race to enter the solar world and take the nation forward through technologically innovative solutions which will improve the quality of lives of many people. This Startup Sunday “let’s think solar” and take a step towards spreading awareness regarding solar power.

8Minutes is the brainchild of three dynamic personalities- Arjun SriHari, Dev Arora and Anuj Gupta. It is a revolutionary startup aimed to transform the energy sector by generating electricity through solar energy.

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Why the name ‘8minutes’?

It takes about eight minutes for the sun’s ray to travel from sun to earth. Being engaged in solar power, so there could not be a better name to describe our enterprise.

How 8 minutes is changing the way people consume power. And what kind of change 8 minutes wants to bring in?

So when we say we that we are trying to change how people view and consume power we essentially mean to change how people view power in terms of carbon footprint. Whether you are a homemaker, corporate worker or industrial worker you should be accountable for the carbon footprint that is being generated. We are providing people with an alternative wherein we are giving an option to switch to Solar, which is a clean and renewable source of power. It is environment friendly which when used helps to offset the carbon footprint of the nation. So we are not just helping environment but also making people aware about it as most people don’t know it’s a viable investment.

What is your business model?

We have two business models which are as follows:

FIRST is the one where a customer buys the whole solar system from us and enjoys free electricity, the benefit is that there is government subsidy and other tax benefits which comes as an added advantage and also the customer saves on huge electricity bills.

SECOND is where we install the system at your place, the customer doesn’t need to pay anything for the infrastructure or installation, he/she will pay for the electricity consumed from it just like we pay to our electricity provider.

What kind of employer-employee relationship do you engage in 8 minutes?

If you see we are a pretty young company, not just in terms in the number of years but also the average age of those working here. Everyone is within 24- 34 years of age. We did try to experiment with a flat structure but that didn’t work out well. So we have a conventional structure (more of a formal structure) in place but at the same time we have an open culture on how we take feedback, and promote innovative ideas as to how we can excel.

How do you reach your customer segment?

We work both in B2B and B2C segment.

In B2B it’s like a domino effect, one business deal leads to another one and the cycle continues. We work with partners who have already established relationships with companies and we leverage that relationship. We engage in growth partner programs wherein people are already working in solar or associated fields and establish relationships with them.

In B2C space we work mostly with institutions and civil society groups like RWAs, NGOs and even individuals.

What were the challenges that 8minutes has faced over the years?

The biggest challenge I would say is how quickly we could adapt to the changing conditions, cultures and behaviour of our customers pan India. Having young people around, actually helped us adapt quickly. We took one parameter in the market if it didn’t work we were back on the drawing board tweaked the offering and were back out again.

Where are your current projects located?

8minutes work pan India, we are working on projects in almost 10 states and in next 2 quarters we are hoping to expand to 8 more states. Headquarter is in Delhi, we have an office in Chandigarh and one in Chennai. We don’t have office in every state but we have partners in each and that’s how we operate.

In future are you planning to shift to other forms of renewable energy or a new segment?

As of now we are only focussing on solar and I don’t think we will move to other renewable sources of energy as it is not our forte. However, I do see ourselves into energy management, working on energy efficiency, smart devices, smart homes, smart businesses and basically working on whole energy consumption department.

You were associated with Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) and Pragya before and now 8minutes, so why such shift?

In PSB I was into hard core research for communications strategy for group of corporates and electoral campaigns- both state and national. I worked on big data, analytics, number crunching was easy and the communication part was very interesting. After working on my last electoral campaign, I took a break for about 6 months which got extended to about 15 months wherein I was travelling across the country and observing various ecological practices and got interested into climate change. So it went from environment to climate change and from climate change to solar.

Failure or success which is more important for you and why?

I would say failure though you should always aim for success but you learn more from your failures. I feel first few failures are very important from the business perspective since you learn a great deal about the various challenges and what is working and what isn’t. Unless you fail you won’t succeed.

 

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