Vishal Saurav, Founder & CEO, Xboom Utilities, is a B. Tech in Electrical & Electronics Engineering graduate from Dayanand Sagar College, Bangalore. He is a young entrepreneur originally from Ranchi who quitted his job as a software engineer to pursue his dream of becoming a change-maker in the society and started his own startup venture ‘Xboom’. Xboom established in March 2015, is a one-stop platform that provides safety and security devices across categories ranging from Women’s safety, home safety, personal safety, vehicle safety to defense. His aim in life is to establish a safe society for people especially women and through his work he aims to bring a change in the life of the general public. In an exclusive interaction with the Higher Education Digest, Saurav talks about the importance of incorporating Women’s self-defense classes/sessions as a part of the curriculum, his entrepreneurship journey, and gives some valuable suggestions to the budding entrepreneurs.
- As your startup provides safety and security devices, what is your opinion on the importance for institutions to incorporate Women’s self-defense classes/sessions as a part of the curriculum?
In the ancient days, physical wellness and self-defense techniques had been very much an indispensable part of the curriculum. However, sadly, we stopped it a few hundred years ago. But, with the change in time, it has become essential once again to include women’s self-defense classes.
Our society is going through a major shift where more and more women are going out of their homes for education or work. Sadly, a large part of the society still doesn’t have respect for girls and women stepping out which often leads to heinous incidences. With the number of crimes against women increasing alarmingly, expecting the police or relatives to come and protect our women is not enough. It is time Indian women learned to be their own saviors in times of need. Hence, including self-defense in the curriculum from a very early age is the need of the hour.
- What are the biggest concerns you hear from parents in India regarding the security of their kids? As the founders of Xboom Utilities, how do you help them overcome that?
Most of the time, it’s the kids who go out without informing the parents. Many of the kids don’t understand the vulnerability and threats that keep lurking. By ignoring their parent’s instructions, they just tend to exercise and enjoy their independence. This gives unintended invitations to danger and creates a lot of tension for their parents. We have a lot of products which can help overcome these problems. For example, a GPS tracker that can help parents be aware of the whereabouts of their children when they are not around.
- What is your opinion about the Indian startup ecosystem and talent available here?
Indian Startup ecosystem holds tremendous potential, but we need to enhance the support system for startups by building stronger incubation centers and accelerators to help achieve business excellence. The brain drain that occurs every year is a cause of big concern. We should concentrate more on retaining the talents and give them enough opportunities so that they can have the confidence to start their venture. There are few schemes like “Make in India”, “Skill India” that are getting applause from many people but many more such schemes need to come so that people get the perception. Even for the existing schemes, there’s a need for additional attention and significance given from the government’s side. Additionally, every individual, as well as an organization, must ensure continuous reskilling and/or upskilling efforts to stay abreast of the highly progressive corporate and technology environment.
- The first half of the last decade saw a surge in the number of startups in India. Do you think the numbers have come down in the second half of the last decade? What are the challenges for young Indian entrepreneurs in 2020?
Startup culture came as a wave in the first half of the last decade. Many of the startups that just wanted to be a part of being beneficiary of VC funds had to close their venture because of non-funding. Government startup schemes also didn’t turn out to be as helpful as they were expected to have been. Also, whenever something new happens, we get a lot of buzzes, but things settle down soon and people who are genuinely trying to stay in the market struggle to get the ventures running.
The quintessential challenges an awareness and adoption amongst the consumers, still continue to persist. However, the rapidly changing technology and business landscape has ushered as a new challenge today for both new and existing star-ups. Hence, entrepreneurs need to match up to the market standards and try harder to stay ahead in the race by equipping themselves with more advanced technologies and strategies. Other challenges like getting financial support or tax benefits are a hurdle the newly blooming entrepreneurs have to face; however, the road becomes less bumpy once they have settled in.
- While digital education has the capability to change the educational landscape, how can it be used to make more entrepreneurs in the country?
The world runs on digital today. With the increased internet and digital penetration within the country’s geographies and demographics, imparting education through digital media serves a multitude of problem areas. From making education accessible to all to creating more opportunities for online content creators, from skilling people in advanced technologies from the remotest parts of the nation to solving the quintessential question of education infrastructure and lack of adequate educational institutional, online education can address all at the same time. Just by connecting more educational content creators we can provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to aggregate all the content creators for designated areas. Moreover, they can spread the quality educational content in remote areas where quality education is still a dream. This also means the scope for education startups to bloom and flourish along with technology startups who can lend the tech solutions. This can also lead to an increase in the number of entrepreneurs produced, even in smaller cities and towns.
- As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you? How do you handle failures?
There is nothing more satisfying in life than seeing people saving their life. When we see how our products and services are helping people saving their life and dignity, we get the biggest motivation. We wouldn’t have grown this much if we had only profit in mind. The aim is always to make India a safer place for women as well as men and seeing people appreciating our efforts is a big motivating factor.
There is not a single person in this world who hasn’t seen failure. In any venture, we face challenges. I also had faced a lot of challenges and seen failures, but failures are a part of success. We just need to be sure that we learn from it and never repeat the same mistakes that lead us to failure. It doesn’t mean that we can’t fail again. The important thing is how we learn from it and move on.
- In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur.
Innovator and Socialpreneur. As an entrepreneur, I always think about how I can make new products that help the masses or improve on existing products so that they can be more effective. I always aim to solve problems that people face in day to day life which if taken care of they could achieve the mental peace they deserve.
- What do you put your success down to?
Success will taste like a failure if there is no one to share with. When I started my venture, there were a lot of risks. My family gave me complete support and told me to go ahead with my ideas. My friends have always been there to give me mental support whenever I feel low. My family and friends are with me in all thick and thins and I can proudly say that they are behind my success.
- What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
For any business or startup to be successful they need to first identify and then address the problems that the large population of the masses faces in day to day life. The intensity of the problem also needs to be checked. The solution offered by the startup must innovatively solve the problem. It has to be user-friendly, easily accessible and affordable for its consumers. The analysis of these is very important. Also, one has to remember that setbacks are a part of life. You should “Never Give Up”, as it’s all about how soon you can bounce back of the adversities that were thrown at you.
- Who inspires you?
Nature is one, from which I draw my inspiration.
- At Xboom Utilities, how do you generate new ideas?
Just by being updated of the new technological breakthroughs and keeping our minds open to creativity. We know that revolutionary ideas click and change the world, but one must remember most of the thing we use today is not just that idea, but how the idea is developed into the end product or service. We need to think positively, a bit out of the box, a bit solution-oriented and there we will have new ideas. I never think any idea is a bad one. I analyze it and give it a thought before rejecting or accepting it.
- What advice would you give to student entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Put your idea to test before you start by creating a pilot project. Understand the customer’s need and their viewpoints on your solution. This can give you some of the most valuable insights which need to be implemented in your startup.
Create an efficient business model that can generate handsome revenue without being dependent on venture capitalists. Also remember, you may not see the desired profit initially but do not lose hope. Most of the startups close down within a couple of years thinking that they are not in business. You should plan your strategy and put your effort and I assure you success will be knocking on the door in no time.