KOCHI: Last month, a steam kitchen shop, which exclusively sells puttu and idli, was set up at Pathanamthitta. This innovative shop, is a brainchild of Vinod Subramaniam, founder of Alterneit. It was met with a lot of appreciation by the local panchayat, which has entrusted the project to the Kudumbasree.
Soon, the serial entrepreneur received orders from various panchayats to set up similar shops.
The project is only one among the 100+ innovative solutions undertaken by Vinod’s Thiruvananthapuram-based company. Other innovations include geriartic toilets, hot and cool beverage counters, coconut dehuskers, solar fish drying units, solar ripening units, and hi-tech goat units. In fact, in the goat unit, 11 goats can be raised in a cage using cost-effective technologies.
Vinod’s company has also devised a cooking machine which is connected to rice and vegetable cookers and idli containers.“This machine was installed after a lot of study. We realised there were many hotels which were spending Rs 2,500 every day on gas for serving 600 idlis and rice. This steam cooking machine was purchased by a company in Alappuzha for Rs 4.5 lakh. Today, it is helping the company save Rs 17,500 per month,” he said.
The culture in Kerala is changing. People are looking for sustainable development and organic living. “This is one of the reasons why we are focusing primarily on agri-based innovations,” said Vinod. “Also, we realised that many people want to start small businesses but they don’t have the resources or the idea. We want to give these small-time entrepreneurs an opportunity to try something different than the usual soap and pickle-making processes. The panchayats are very eager to promote such unique entrepreneurships.”
Vinod, an MBA and LLB graduate, was among the first batch of Akshaya project implementors in the state. “I was the district coordinator in Malappuram in 2002-2005. During that time, I worked with people at the grassroots level and understood how small-time development was a key to growth. This interaction with people sowed the seeds of a social entrepreneur in me,” he said. After this, Vinod worked with the IT mission. After a few years, he started a innovation-based company at Technopark called Rainconsult. After years of research, he decided to float Alternait. “The company had its initial years of struggle. It was difficult for us to convince people to take up projects at the grassroots. However, today, after four years, I am glad it has found a footing,” he said. Vinod is also in talks with the Sri Lankan and Tanzanian governments to emulate such a model there.