Rural Spark - a startup in India
As a Dutch startup, based in India, we have learned plenty of lessons about oportunities and challenges to do business in the Indian market. It is not easy to do business here... but we wouldn't miss it for the world.
When I first arrived at a rural settlement in India, I was surrounded by waiting people. The monsoon had not arrived. “We are waiting for the rain, so that the rice can be planted,” I was informed. I spent the day at the temple, in the middle of the village, where a group of men were sitting. Occasionally, they talked, but mainly they just sat. I found myself wondering why I came here.
If you see a village like this, it seems like nothing is required. Electricity doesn’t seem to be a need. During the first few days, we had no power, but everything carried on just the way it always does. Interestingly, everyone had a mobile phone, which they apparently managed to charge somewhere. During the next few days, we slowly started seeing the hard life. Children could not go to school because they had to help with domestic and farm work. A lot of times, in case of illness, it wasn’t possible to get any help. People in rural India accept life as it is. But they need development to improve their lives. And although electricity doesn’t appear to be a need right now, it is very essential for a better future.
Our business in India
Rural Spark envisions, designs and implements the distributed energy networks of tomorrow. More than 400 million people in India have no access to continuous energy. They are all potential customers. India also has a highly educated and skilled workforce to design and engineer the required solutions. Instead of competing against existing infrastructure, Rural Spark starts from scratch in rural India, and sets out to leapfrog traditional energy networks, thus making energy accessible and affordable for all.
After doing research pilots around Jabalpur, and flying back and forth many times, we realized the business potential in India. After arranging funds and finalizing the initial product, Rural Spark Energy India Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 2013.
Challenges and Opportunities
Bart Naaijkens, Director of Operations at Rural Spark, is responsible for managing and expanding current and future operations of Rural Spark. With a background in e-commerce at Rabobank, a degree in industrial design from Eindhoven University of Technology, and an entrepreneurial and hands-on approach, his goal is to make Rural Spark the biggest and most efficient player in off-grid energy solutions, relying extensively on smart technologies and processes.