How does it feel to win a prestigious global award but get snubbed at home? Angry, frustrated, or helpless? All of these and more was what 42-year-old Sandith Thandasherry was experiencing when Outlook Business caught up with him. The founder of NavAlt Solar & Electric Boats recently won the Gustave Trouve Award, the world's only international award, exclusively for electric boats.
The start-up built a low-cost passenger ferry called Aditya operating in the backwaters of Vembanad, plying commuters between Vaikom and Thavanakadavu. And it won the award for being not just ‘green’, but also a financially-viable mode of public transport — at an energy cost of just Rs.80/day. That’s against an average energy cost of Rs.8,000/day for a diesel-run ferry. This makes Aditya world’s cheapest public transport. “While the award is a motivation, the reality is that doing business is far from easy,” said Thandasherry, whose grouse comes from the fact that the Rs.80-million profitable start-up was overlooked for a tender to supply 23 electric boats for Kochi Metro since it failed to meet the networth criteria.
In fact, it wasn’t even considered when the winning PSU floated a tender for sourcing propulsion technology for the boats. “What&rs