May 26, 2016

Posted by in 2016, Expert's Session, News | 0 Comments

Journey from ideation stage to commercially selling the product by Mr. Mahesh Patel

Dr. Mahulkar introduced the work done by Mr. Mahesh Patel in the past and very rightly said that he has an unmatched existence in the field of grassroots innovations. Without wasting any time he started explaining how a product is developed from the stage of idea and he did it with a case study on cotton wick machine.
About cotton wick he said that there are two kinds of cotton wick one which is round and the other which is long and these are generally made by women in household who sell it to distributors on the basis of order. The idea for developing a cotton wick machine came from a merchant named Dipakbhai who saw that the supply of cotton wick was not meeting its demand and this was because of lack of technology. Dipakbhai told this to his friend Vijaybhai who had an aptitude for technical things. Vijaybhai tried to make this machine but gave up after few months because of failure. Then one day while seeing wiper of a rickshaw an idea struck him.
So by 2010 Vijaybhai made his first prototype which used the mechanism of a wiper. HE made a fully automatic machine which could make twelve wicks per minute. However even after two years he could not commercialise this machine because of complexities in the machine. There was also a problem of standardisation of machine components and lack of incubation.
Vijaybhai got in touch with NIF and Mr. Mahesh Patel explained the role played by GIAN and NIF. The following flowchart explains it in brief: (attach photo from ppt)

Later NIF did some R&D and they modified the original machine which now used a mechanism similar to charkha. This machine which was developed had to be fed with small pieces of cotton and needle in the machine would rotate the fed cotton to make wick out of it. This is still crux of the machine used in the present model.

The innovator wanted to add everything in the machine but after doing a market research NIF realised that if cost of machine is above Rs 4000 wick makers would not be able to buy these machine. After the market research innovators and technicians were told about the requirements of machine as to its cost, its size, power requirement etc.
GIAN hired a designer to design a working prototype of it. GIAN also involved Shri Paresh Panchal, a serial innovator to help build a robust and commercial prototype. Mr. Patel also talked about the changes brought by Mr. Panchal in the machine and its impact on the machine and it also invited expert opinion from others. After all this EQDC Fab Lab, where R&D was taking place they built a prototype which was functionally correct and had a proper wick dropping mechanism. However this machine was a bit complex and bulky.
After further research final prototypes were made and they tried to make it at a very low cost. When ninety percent of the product was ready they filed for a patent and then they started R&D for individual supply. This was done to check how individual components work and if there was a need or a possibility to modify these components.
They also undertook studies for scaling up the project, pricing the product and others. Mr. Patel said that even at present they are working at the model to make it fully automatic. Starting from the first model made by the original innovator today NIF has made six commercially viable models.
The participants then questioned Mr. Patel on the present status of the machine which he satisfactory replied to. Talking about the present selling price of the machine he said that there are two models one which is sold at Rs 7500 and other which is sold at Rs 15000. Reasons for such high selling price is that there is a monopoly and this machine involves some maintenance services which is internalised in the selling price. Mr. Mahesh also talked about the difference between entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship and said that the objective of developing present model was tragedy reduction.
Talking about product development he said that innovator cannot stick to the original model and he has to keep changing it otherwise final product will not be able to develop. He also said that there will be customers having different purchasing power, the innovator will have to decide which segment he wants to cater to and build a prototype accordingly. He said that socio-economic issues, technical issues etc. are a part of market and insisted that innovators need to look into them while developing the product.
After this he talked about folding cart innovation. He first explained how it works and then talked about its limitation. He also brought into discussion the factor of other manufacturers/fabricator’s unwillingness to build and develop this innovation. And the innovator needs to look into it as well and GIAN and NIF tries to do the same i.e. converging the requirements of manufacturers and ideas of innovators.
Towards the end Mr Patel gave his opinion and solved various queries regarding to five problem statements which had been selected by the participants.

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