Food security with aQysta

STW talks to aQysta. Serving the society, while remaining profitable, is the aim of this international team of social entrepreneurs. With over a billion people going to bed hungry every day, food security is a major issue and these guys believe that increasing agricultural productivity is the key to solving the world’s largest problem – hunger. Aditya Kamalapurkar, Pratap Thapa, Fred Henny and Satish Kumar Sugavanam founded aQysta.

Top left to bottom left – Fred, Aditya, Pratap and Satish

aQysta develops hydro-powered irrigation systems, a sustainable solution that does not use any external source of energy like fossil fuels or electricity with a vision to enhance food security in the world. They’ve developed a unique product called the Barsha pump that does not use any fuels and can be operated at virtually zero cost. Their mission is simple – to provide renewable technology to improve socio-economic prosperity by diversifying and integrating high value agriculture. ‘Barsha’ (meaning “Rain” in Hindi) pumps works on spiral pumping mechanism. These pumps are based on an ancient Egyptian principle, surprisingly never been used before on an industrial scale.

“In the initial brainstorming we had various names being discussed but none seemed appropriate. We gave up on it until one evening when we were sitting and discussing our mission and vision Fred and Pratap said “On a quest”…. and that sounded really good for a name for the company! A quest for water, food, energy and we decided on aQysta – Q in blue with flowing water showing the quest around it.”

Read on for our conversation-

STW: How did you guys get together on this amazing venture?

aQysta: We are all master students studying at TU Delft. We have a master class about writing a business plan called “Ready to Start Up” given by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants at YES!Delft. In the networking event of the class, we four met each other and decided to take up the challenge of improving irrigation facility in developing countries.

STW: What motivated this idea and how do you see this reaching its full potential?

aQysta: While in Nepal, Pratap saw that despite having water sources nearby, farmers did not have access to irrigation for economic and topographic reasons. He was involved in trying to build a solution for the problem from Nepal. Fred came up with the brilliant technical idea of optimizing spiral principle to build hydro-powered irrigation systems. When all four of us met for the lecture, it was our passion for social entrepreneurship that got us together and we wanted to create an impact in the world to make it a better place.

We planned to start out small and focused only on Nepal first. Now as our idea has matured and our network grown we are ready to take the idea to a global scale.

STW: What does aQysta represent to each of you and why was the idea so important?

aQysta: aQysta is a dream for us. We still remember how unsure we were of the idea and its potential success when we first started. Taking aQysta from concept to the present stage is like growing a child for us. We all have given up on other opportunities and worked extra hours on top of the regular college activities to take aQysta to this level.

STW: What does the future hold for the 4 of you and how will you continue to do this great work?

aQysta: All four of us are still studying in final year of our master program. We are in the process of legally registering a company here in Netherlands and will continue to work on aQysta after graduation. This means that within the next months we will have a great deal of organizational work ahead, but this will bring us to the next and very exciting step for us, actually forming the BV.

STW: Clearly, entrepreneurship of any kind is not for the faint hearted. Give us a glimpse into your journey so far?

aQysta: Within a year we have reached from a crude idea to creating a foundation for a company with global operations in sight. This is a tremendous achievement. However, it has not always been an easy and smooth journey. While the entrepreneurial journey is always inherently uncertain, managing time for aQysta along with other commitments of university adds more challenges. But we are positive that we could keep the positive momentum and bring forward aQysta. The most remarkable moments for aQysta so far have been winning several innovation competitions in Netherlands and at European level. Such competitions have provided visibility, network and confidence on one hand and also some start up funds to carry forward the company.

STW:  Your individual opinions on what the ‘youth’ ought to be paying attention to as far as real world problems and solving them goes?

aQysta: Most of youth today think of web based businesses when they think of entrepreneurship today. Inspired by story of facebook and alike, youths think of websites and mobile apps as synonymous with entrepreneurship. While such activities have their own value, there are several other pressing challenges in the world which requires youth to put their entrepreneurial skills into solving them. It might not be as glamorous, but the impact you create out of social entrepreneurship is definitely rewarding. We suggest the youth focus on such activities as well. Also, especially at a younger age, it is important to dream and let your energy and fresh insights move you forward.

STW: Your individual or collective advice to people like you everywhere looking at simple solutions to tough problems, having trouble with where to start?

aQysta: Many people when thinking of applying solutions immediately think of funds required and stop. We suggest to carry on the development of the dea with whatever resources are available, funds will come eventually. Also, sharing the idea and talking with various people adds on to the idea rather than keeping silent about it fearing someone might steal it. Having a complementary team is fundamental in taking on any innovation journey, so create a good team.

Bringing an idea towards entrepreneurial success is a path with many hurdles, but it is important to face all of them, as it grows your insights, network and expertise. As long as you are able to keep in mind your long-term goals and visions, being persistent is what gets the most out of you and you will be able to face those hurdles.

STW thinks aQysta is doing a fantastic job! Kudos! Learn more about them here.

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About Shruti Bharath

Social entrepreneur and developmental writer, passionate about creating workable solutions in the areas of improving employability of youth and women through skill enhancement/training and generation of productive and sustainable employment opportunities.

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