Startup Spotlight is a series by UIncept to share our stories with the world.
It takes a lot of courage and commitment to build a startup, and we strongly believe in ideas that change the world. As the new batch of young and enthusiastic individuals begin their journeys at UIncept, we are taking the opportunity to interview them and gain an insight into what drives them.
Today, we are in conversation with Gangesh Singhal, the founder of a startup called ‘Extrawatts Renewables’.
What is Extrawatts Renewables and where did you come up with the idea?
Extrawatts Renewables designs wind panels for vehicle rooftops. These panels generate electricity and purify the air, so they are dual-purpose. They can be installed on any vehicle rooftop.
I got the idea while I was pursuing my master's degree in the U.K. We were supposed to do a final project and the university gave us a list of 60 projects to choose from. However, my friends and I didn’t like any of the options and decided to come up with our own idea. We were given a month’s time to create a proper proposal and present it to the university.
That is when I was forced to self-introspect and come up with a subject I was really interested in. I eventually realised this is what I want to do.
What would you say makes your startup different from the ones that already exist?
My startup offers something that is the need of the hour. It’s a sustainable project.
We solve a major problem for people. It provides you with an innovative product which will eventually help the planet.
Can you take us through your educational journey?
I was a science student in high school, as most of us here. The one thing memorable to me from those years is our computer science teacher. He was such an inspiration; he actually made a lot of us get up early every morning and come to school for extra CS classes. We came to learn hardcore programming and that was just for fun. No certificate, no extra fee, it was purely for the joy of learning.
After that, I pursued a degree in Power System Engineering from UPES, Dehradun. I honestly didn’t work very hard there. My marks were average at best.
It was when I went on to do my master’s from Liverpool University Press in the U.K. that I realised my true potential and worked harder than I ever had before. In fact, I also completed an online MBA programme.
What are 3 things that college taught you?
College taught me the importance of expanding my network; I also learned teamwork, and how to keep a proper balance between my work and social life.
Describe yourself in 3 adjectives.
I believe I am calm, empathetic and a visionary.
What were you like as a teenager? Did you ever think of starting up while you were in school?
From a very young age, I knew that a 9 to 5 job wasn’t for me. My entire family is into business, so I always knew I would eventually end up doing business in one way or the other.
I was not at all interested in joining my father’s business though, so having my own startup makes a lot of sense.
Which entrepreneur do you idolise and why?
I idolise Elon Musk. He is a visionary and his ideas are like none other. So yeah, he is my ultimate inspiration.
What was your family’s reaction to you wanting to start a startup?
The biggest perk of belonging to a business background is that they understand entrepreneurship. They know the advantages and disadvantages.
Thus, they have always been confident in my capabilities and believed in me. My parents were extremely encouraging when I discussed my decision to start my own startup with them.
How do you deal with setbacks?
For me, it is a person, who has helped me deal with my setbacks. She is a very close friend.
You see, a very low point in my life was when I initially went to the U.K. I couldn’t adjust to the lifestyle there and I quit; I came back to India within a month.
She was the one who pulled me out of that negative headspace and motivated me to fight. So I went back to the same college, continued with the same course, and this time, I didn’t give up.
One misconception you had about startups that got cleared once you began working on yours.
Honestly, being from a business family, I had a very clear picture of what entrepreneurship really entails.
What made you apply to UIncept and what do you expect from your journey here?
When I finally started working on my idea, I realized that I needed proper guidance and direction. The incubation programme here at UIncept was one of the best I came across, so I applied immediately.
I might have a business background, but there is still a lot I have to learn about the startup culture. Traditional businesses and startups are completely different.
I expect that by the end of this programme, I will have a better understanding of how to run a startup. I’m also hoping to make some solid connections in the industry while I am here.
This session was hosted by UIncept, India's premier business incubator and accelerator. In our pursuit to share the best industry knowledge, we host founders to share their learnings and journey through conversations and interactive sessions. Learn more about UIncept and our programs here.