Varun Sridharan has had a connection with IIT-Madras campus since 1993. He studied at the Kendriya Vidyalaya school in the IIT campus. After completing his civil engineering degree from a private college in Chennai – a four-year break from IIT – he was back on the campus in 2009, this time as a project associate. This was for a project the Union Urban Development Ministry had tasked IIT-M to help frame a policy on wastewater management.
This project experience laid the foundation for the venture he started – Greenvironment Innovation and Marketing India (P) Ltd – that is being incubated at IIT-M. It was a three-year project but Varun left it after about 18 months and joined a multinational company that was into water treatment solutions.
After an overseas stint with the MNC, Varun wanted to do something on his own. When he reached out to Ligy Philip of the Civil Engineering Department at IIT-M, under whom he had worked on the Urban Development Ministry project, she suggested that he come over to Chennai and also told him about incubation at IIT-M.
Greenvironment, founded in August 2012, is into water, wastewater and solid waste management solutions. It monitors real-time water and wastewater treatment systems in apartment complexes helping them significantly reduce their water consumption.Other ventures
Before this got underway, Varun made and sold portable biogas plants in his hometown in Kerala, installing nearly 80 such plants. Once the incubation process started at IIT-M, Varun was getting a lot of enquiries to design wastewater treatment plants. He designed one for a food processing unit in Tamil Nadu. Greenvironment was also into solid waste management, a business that grew faster than Varun and his team anticipated. They spun off the waste management business into a separate company, Earth Recyclers, which collects segregated solid waste from apartment complexes in Chennai for a price and sells it to companies that recycle the waste.
Greenvironment’s main business, according to Varun, is taking up fresh water and recycled water management contracts in apartment complexes. The policy mandates residential complexes with more than 50 apartments to have treatment facilities for wastewater and drinking water. Greenvironment assesses how much of the recycled water can be re-used. It monitors water use, automates the process of operating the water pumps, has a mobile app through which data is sent to it and analyses the data and tells the apartment association its water use pattern and how it can cut down on buying water and the like.Mentors & investors
According to Varun, apart from IIT-M Incubation Cell and Ligy Philip, Greenvironment has some small investment from P Senthilnathan, who is a core alumni mentor at the incubation cell and is also a mentor to Greenvironment. Thanks to MM Murugappan, Vice-Chairman of the Murugappa group who is also a mentor to Greenvironment, the venture has started working with Murugappa group companies on real time monitoring of their water use.
Sridharan says he is looking to raise some money, not a big amount though, to scale the team. The company is earning enough to meet its expenses.
It is looking to move into more cities, the challenge being each State and local government has different policies.
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