Madhumita Agarwal is an inspiration to all those who dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Madhumita, born in a middle-class family in Rourkela, Odisha, has been steadily climbing many successes with her hard work and dedication. She founded the multi-million revenue firm ‘IPexcel’ and now co-founded an Indian electric vehicle company developing an in-house electric vehicle ‘OBEN’ with her husband, Dinkar. . In this way, Madhumita has become the first woman in India to lead an electric vehicle manufacturing company (Woman in technology).
Talking to The Better India, Madhumita told about the interesting journey of her career. His journey started at IIT-Kharagpur, IIM-Bangalore and now Bengaluru, starting from Rourkela. Bengaluru is called the technology hub of India and it is from here that both of their enterprises operate.
Make crores of business
Madhumita was born in the city of Rourkela, famous for steel making. It was from here that he completed his schooling and then took an engineering degree in biotechnology from ‘Biju Patnaik University of Technology’ (BPUT). Subsequently, he obtained a law degree from IIT-Kharagpur’s ‘Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law’ (RGSOIPL), specializing in Intellectual Property.
Within the IIT system, where hundreds of engineers prepare for the future each year. There, it is the first law school of its kind, providing legal education with IP expertise. Here he enrolled in a three-year residential program and obtained a Bachelor of Law (Hons) degree in Intellectual Property Law, approved by the ‘Bar Council of India’.
Madhumita says, “When you specialize in patent or intellectual property law, you have to understand the various nuances of technology. After completing my engineering, I never wanted to leave this field completely but, I was not interested in PhD studies either. That is why I enrolled in this course at IIT-Kharagpur. After graduating from IIT-Kharagpur in 2012, I started my own company ‘IPexcel’. Which helps technology companies to develop innovations, improve existing technologies, and protect their Intellectual Property-related Rights (IPRs). Our firm has worked for many large multinationals, which has helped them identify the right kind of technologies for themselves. ”
The company today has more than 1,500 clients across various technology sectors. In addition to several mid-size firms and startups in 10 countries, he has five clients named in the list of ‘Fortune 500 companies’.
Madhumita further adds, “My husband Dinkar Agarwal is an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus and as an inventor, he has five patents to his name. He has previously worked with ‘General Electric’. He helped me co-founded IPexcel, our first venture. Taking advantage of their invention knowledge and my understanding of IPR, we initially sold our services to many mid-size firms and startups that did not have their own in-house setup. The two of us started the company together. Increasing from two members, today IPexcel has more than 70 members in its India and US branches. While running IPexcel, I also did my Executive MBA from IIM-Bengaluru (2016-17). ”
IPexcel is today a multi-million dollar revenue company. Before starting this company, Madhumita did several internships to identify the areas where she wanted to pursue her career. While studying at IIT-Kharagpur, he realized that his strength lay in patents and intellectual property. As a technologist, she felt that she could do the best job as a patent attorney.
Further on her journey, Madhumita explains, “Once this region is identified, it became a source of strength and confidence for me. And then, I decided to pursue it as a complete venture. Selling our services was very difficult in the beginning. Because, we are talking about an invention in a country where ‘jugaad’ is still appreciated. Which was very difficult for us to sell. When you have a certain product, it becomes easy for you to explain to the customers. But, when you have an IP service, it does not give you instant success. Its output can be an intellectual property or a product, which can come to market only after a few months or years. It is not an immediate and real success or satisfaction that the customer can experience. However, the value addition we bring to the customers helped us grow by 200% (CAGR) every year. We were determined to take our enterprise to new heights. ”
In the IPR domain for most companies, it often takes 10 to 20 years to achieve such spectacular growth and grow the business. After all, what they are selling through their business does not look like a product. It is important for them, in this domain, to bring real value additions to customers (who are mostly technology companies and who manufacture real products).
After all, what is the secret of success of Madhumita and Dinkar?
Madhumita explains, “As founders we were very passionate and we set very high standards for the company. In the beginning, the co-founders of such institutions need to complement each other. Where I handled Sales, Marketing and Customers. At the same time, my husband took full care to execute our services. We recruited highly skilled professionals in our team, who proved to be complementary to each other. But who you add to the team, where to invest and how to train, it is important to keep in mind. These were our priorities. We always hire people either from top institutions or with very strong technical environment. ”
In its early days, IPexcel hired people who were technically strong and highly passionate about their work. Madhumita admits that in the beginning, everything was extremely difficult even for the employees, but the people she had hired earlier are now the leaders there. This is why Madhumita and her husband decided to move out of IPexcel in 2020. He created the firm’s foundational system and made them leaders.
The best part of it was that it was a cost-generating unit, which eventually became a working entity not for enterprises but for customers. Today, Madhumita is a promoter of the firm, who is not involved in the daily affairs of the company as a managing director.
Move to evs
While running IPexcel, the couple made contact with several firms in the electric mobility business. In this way, he developed an expertise and strong interest in electric vehicles, in addition to understanding his market and its current problems.
Madhumita explains, “For the last four years, we have been working in this domain and developing understanding on various products, problems and shortcomings in the Indian market. But, as early as last year, we, as co-founders, had serious discussions about identifying shortcomings in the market. Discussed plans to advance themselves. By August 2020, we had identified deficiencies. We formed the right team and officially installed the ‘OBEN Electric Vehicle’ in Bengaluru. ”
Prior to founding OBEN, he identified two major problems in the region:
1) A lot of cheap and poor quality EV products are being brought to India.
2) Consumers are worried about charging their EVs. They are worried about where and how long they can charge their EVs. Where the charging infrastructure in the country is still not better.
This startup has addressed these troubles. Which seeks to address these concerns by developing a premium e-scooter and introducing an autonomous battery swapping solution. There are a few companies in the current EV market that are selling quality e-scooters in the B2C segment. However, other concerns such as charging woes and customer service have not been addressed.
Madhumita says, “By next month, the pre-production model of our e-scooter will be ready. The top speed of the scooter will be 90 km per hour and its battery range is 130 km. We have installed all the necessary smart features in it. We have built an autonomous technology for autonomous battery swapping and infrastructure backup. All the parts are designed and designed in India, except for the battery cell. Initially, we will manufacture these e-scooters ourselves, but as the number increases, we will look for other partners. ”
Women succeed in the field of technology
Speaking to The Better India, her husband, Dinkar, says, “I am really proud to be Madhumita’s husband. He is very hardworking and disciplined. These things positively impact their professional and personal lives. I am still surprised to see how she manages the work of both firms and is constantly climbing the ladder of success. She is moving fast in her career and I will always be there to support her in her efforts. ”
Despite the support of her husband, any woman has to work harder than men to get into the technology field.
She says, “At the present time, we are working in a place where men dominate.” Women have to work harder to convince and convince stakeholders. There are obviously many reasons for this, but I have moved forward and am seeing a lot of women in places like technology manufacturing, product-making and coding. In places dominated by men, now women are taking up challenges and living up to expectations. It will take some more time for them to really make their mark. Because, the number of such women is still small. ”
Dinkar agrees that more women are needed in technology ventures. He says, “Madhumita suggests an alternative view to every decision we make in our organization. This is a big reason why we have been successful. Women see things that we cannot see and it is necessary that more women become part of technology-driven enterprises. ”
So, what is Madhumita’s advice for young women who wish to reach these places and make their own place? “My advice to fresh graduate girls is to maintain their confidence. You gain confidence from an unlimited storehouse of knowledge, by holding onto your subject and completing your work properly. When you give good results through your work for the first time, gradually it becomes easier for you to gain confidence. Women need to raise their standards. ”