24 Good Businesses 2012

The light collector

Depressed by your dingy office or home? Skyshade has the solution — its lighting systems not only bring in natural light but reduce your energy costs too 

RA CHANDROO

In most Indian cities, four walls and a roof make a house. Lack of cross ventilation or inadequate sunlight during the day is a given. This applies not only to apartment buildings but to many, if not most, industrial warehouses as well. Pune-based Dhananjay Hulge is one among many who parks in a cramped dark basement and makes do with a barely-lit bathroom. Since he cannot tamper with the building structure or electrical wiring, Hulge is desperately looking for an affordable ‘natural’ solution. At the other end, there aren’t many mechanical engineers who have found a job at Hindustan Petroleum boring. Most of them hang on till retirement to the career security that the state-owned oil marketing company offers. Sekhar Nori, however, not only found it routine, he quit soon after joining, as for him there was not much “engineering and application challenge”. The fact is Nori’s heart lay someplace else — in the renewable energy sector. He felt since India had always had a perennial energy problem, the solar industry was a better bet. He started off with manufacturing and installing solar thermal systems in 1995-96. He persisted for about six years before realising that he was too early on the scene. Nori recalls, “Technology we built, but business we could not. Market conditions were tough, and in the course of project execution we discovered that scaling up the solar business was a challenge.”