With a long list of honors and awards under her name, and an extravagant career, Aardra Chandra Mouli is surely one those women entrepreneurs who have laid a benchmark for others to follow. She is very lively and always excited to learn new things. Besides being a joy to work with, Aardra is a take-charge person who is able to present creative ideas and communicate the benefits.
For Aardra Chandra Mouli and Gayathri Thankachi, Aeka Biochemicals has been the first step towards the dream they have nurtured since college. Like Aardra, Gayatri Thankachi is highly organized and shows umpteen commitment towards her work. She also has numerous awards to her name. They both completed B.Tech in Biotechnology and Biochemical engineering together, but later went on to pursue their own career. However, after a few years, came back together to pursue their dream of starting their own company. Aeka Biochemicals is a fully women-owned biotech and biochemical start-up venture based out of Trivandrum, Kerala, India.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Founded by Miss Aardra Chandra Mouli and Miss Gayathri Thankachi V., the company undertakes the manufacture of biotechnological, biochemical & enzymatic products, chemical products or extracts of biological origin.
Aeka’s laboratory and research facility, which comprise a full-fledged wet laboratory, basic analytical laboratory and pilot-scale biochemical production units, are optimized so as to be eco-friendly, pollutant-free, and a green, zero-effluent zone.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
The idea of Aeka was born about seven years ago, in the hours after class, at Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Trivandrum – the alma mater of the founders and core team of the company. Aeka is thus a long-cherished dream. Rather than follow the conventional paths of a safe employment opportunity, we, the founder-directors, after gaining relevant experience, took the risk of trying to make our dreams come true. An additional inspiration was the dearth of opportunities in biotech and related fields in Kerala.
What is your life mantra?
Work hard, have fun, live and let live, do our bit to make the world a better, cleaner, greener place.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
The first year has been so much fun! Setting up a start-up is always daunting, but infinitely interesting. Our choice of a field that is not well-established in our state – and that has comparatively less-defined support from technical and regulatory bodies – has thrown up some challenges at times. The general public also does not have a very clear idea of how vast and fascinating the biological sciences, and biotechnology in particular are – this makes educating the public sentiment an additional area that we have had to address in our start-up journey.
A major issue we faced was the lack of a single, comprehensive, source of information regarding the legal and regulatory processes to be carried out and the licenses to be obtained for such a company as ours. Hopefully, we will be able to help make Kerala more of a green-industry friendly state in the near future.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Our guides, mentors and local authorities proved supportive in helping us, and sound advice from experienced people helped us overcome the initial hassles. We set up Aeka’s facility after detailed ground work. This helped us get a clearer picture of how to go about making our vision a reality.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We (Aardra and Gayathri) have brought in our savings from previous jobs as capital. In November of 2014, Aeka was shortlisted and selected for the Kerala State Entrepreneur Development Mission scheme of the Government of Kerala in association with the Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC). This is the first external funding received by the company since its inception. These are the two means of funding using which Aeka currently operates.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We believe in actively striving towards developing and maintaining a happy and positive workplace. The team at Aeka is passionate about creating a friendly work atmosphere that fosters creativity, teamwork, innovation, and unity. This in turn helps our efforts to manufacture products that are aimed at, and useful for, the common man.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
- hard work
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
- social networking
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
We’d like to increase and improve our time management skills.
Answer in less than 50 words
One tip to success:
It is important to stay focused, kind, balanced, happy, creative, strong, and most importantly, united.
One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
We believe mistakes are essential to learning!
One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
We’ve seen that if you want something bad enough, the universe does indeed conspire to make your wish come true.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
As mentioned earlier, we at Aeka aim to establish ourselves as a company that addresses current needs that are relevant to local as well as global consumers. With organic farming and food security movements gaining momentum in India, the Sasya series holds much significance.
Aeka’s first year was focused on the successful set-up of our facility and the development of our MB-PGP range. As we stand on the threshold of our second year, with the support of our in-house team and the extensive experience of our expert consultants, our R&D pipeline for 2015-17 includes plans for more custom-made plant growth promotion products, and a green solution that we are highly enthusiastic about – the development of an innovative and eco-friendly technique for small-scale waste water recycling based on biochemical and microbial methods that employ the application of indigenous materials.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
We can’t think of anything we would like to change right now.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“If you are in enough places, enough times and long enough, you get your breaks. You just have to be smart enough to take them.” – Sanjeev Bikhchandani (naukri.com)