Anjil Jain and Manan Patel have always been together through thick and thin. They grew up in the same locality in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, went to the Seventh Day Adventist School and were even together in the same class. The two later decided to study engineering at Sal Engineering College in the city together and the choice of subject was the same too – mechanical engineering.
It was a quirk of fate that both of them decided to pursue a post graduate diploma in intellectual property rights. And, you guessed it, after they completed their course, they started teaching at the same college as assistant professors
Sometime in December 2015, the two were visiting local farmers to understand some of the challenges that they faced during the course of work in the fields. Yes, they were together yet again! During detailed conversations with farmers, they figured out that hired labour was becoming too expensive for them to employ in the fields. After they had understood the problems of the farmers, they came back and started doing some online research.
Chinese companies made devices that could help farmers with planting crops and it was working out to nearly Rs. 4,000 per unit. These devices could help in planting vegetable saplings. Digging online further gave them the idea that they too could make such a device locally for use by farmers. As they discussed further, and studied the various designs they could develop, the farmers explained their exact needs and on December 26, 2015 the first device was ready.
They went back to the farmer who started using the device for planting of crops immediately. He mentioned it to a relative in Karnataka who made a video of the device and put it on YouTube. He also put their phone number on the video.
“Since then, the phones have not stopped ringing and we have had orders from all parts of the country. We listened to farmers very carefully and have made products that suit their needs very well,” Anjil said on the phone from Ahmedabad.
One of the biggest challenges being faced by farmers is that people are not ready work as daily wagers in farms. When the farmers get people to work, the worker can cost up to Rs. 350 per day. During the time when the saplings have to be planted, if five such workers are needed, it adds up to a sizable amount for the farmer.
It is exactly that need of the farmer which Anjil and Manan’s company, Vinspire Agrotech, has managed to address. If a farmer can invest between Rs. 1,500 – 2,300 for a planting machine as a one-time cost, he can do away with the need to look for daily workers. Against the average time of planting five saplings a minute for the human workers, the machine can help in planting up to 25 saplings. It is zero maintenance and needs only once-a-year servicing for little or no cost.
“One big advantage is that the backbreaking work that is required from the farmer when planting saplings is replaced by the machine,” Anjil pointed out.
Vinspire’s customers- farmers from across the country, have given an overwhelming response to the product. The company has expanded its offering with different machines and variants for sowing seeds and also removing weeds from the farm. Over nearly three years, they have sold over 6,000 machines. The company now has five workers to make the machines, and a team of six who market the products, and is looking to grow the business.
Among the world of startups, the recognition they received was quick. At different fora, the company has received several awards. It applied for recognition for the Jagriti Yatra Sustainable Enterprise Award but could not make it among the top three
During their childhood years, Anjil and Manan were always together. Entrepreneurship and the dream of improving the lot of farmers now binds them together. They hope to play their part in bringing about the change in the society. Together.