Entrepreneur Interview


For entrepreneurs, things aren't always smooth and simple. While following a more traditional approach to business might help you to achieve your goals, but if you want to create new avenues to success, you better dare to deviate from the beaten track, says Dr. Shirish Naik, founder of Naik Enviro - an end-to-end solution provider in industrial environment management, water supply and treatment.

In this entrepreneur interview, Dr. Naik shares tips on starting-up while tracing the evolution of Naik Enviro. He tells us why there has been a growing need for wastewater treatment products for both residential and commercial applications and how budding entrepreneurs from the social and environmental sector can utilize this opportunity.


Q: You started NAIK ENVIRO in 1989. How did the idea for your business come about?

When joined as a faculty at IIT Bombay in 1984, I had already worked on a vast spectrum of very challenging consultancy assignments in water and wastewater engineering for my employers. Though I enjoyed my work, there was always an element of dissatisfaction about the organizational constraints to be innovative and to deviate from the beaten track.

I was always craving for professional independence which I thought I could satisfy if I joined IIT as a faculty. Just then an opportunity came up and before I knew what was happening, I found myself lecturing and doing research at IIT Bombay. My first question to the class was "How many students do we have today" If the answer was "Thirty" I would say to myself and sometimes aloud,"Add one to that, and that is me".

I always felt that wastewater treatment plants needed to be designed differently and they should be compact and modular, given the acute space constraints in Metro cities. A lot of my research was focused on developing systems to make wastewater treatment systems more elegant, compact, modular and above all power efficient.

I always believed that however complex the system is, the user interface needed to be as simple as possible. Though my conscious mind went through the daily routine, my sub conscious mind was constantly at work and a lot of ideas germinated during the long walk through the much talked about IIT corridors and cross country shortcuts from home to the Department.

Much as I researched and gave shape to these ideas in the form of sketches and models, I was still not satisfied, though there was complete freedom in research that IIT gives to its faculty. This time it was the lack of proper opportunity to put these ideas into practice in real world situations. Just then, some opportunities came up and I started Naik Enviro and called it a day as a faculty at IIT. The prime motivating factor in stepping out as an entrepreneur was to invent and innovate through the medium of business.

Q: You're involved in the design and detailing of Package Water and Wastewater treatment systems. Can you please elaborate on what exactly you do?

Treatment of water and wastewater, to put it simply, is the process of conversion of the water or wastewater from an "impure" state to a purer state to enable its designated use. There is a variety of alternative technologies and systems to bring about this conversion.

On one extreme are the traditional technologies that occupy a huge amount of space and consume a substantial quantum of electrical energy. On the other hand, the systems we provide are very compact, elegant and consume minimal electrical energy.

These systems are prefabricated, modular and elegant and have a very short implementation period. We call these package systems.

Q: Apart from India, you also operate in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Belarus, Netherlands, and US. Does your process for wastewater treatment differ for each country and how?

The process does not differ with geographical locations except that in countries with cold climate, we insulate the system to prevent ice formation.

Q: What are the skills that youngsters should develop before starting their own venture?

The skills and approach needed are :

  • Ability to innovate and to gauge the lacunae in competing products
  • Good communication and presentation skills
  • Heightened awareness of customer preferences
  • Willingness to look at the larger picture while taking business risks and decisions,
  • And above all, the courage to deviate from the beaten track and create new avenues to success

About Naik Enviro: Founded and mentored by Dr. Shirish S. Naik, a former faculty of Environmental Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai NAIK ENVIRO has succeeded in radically changing the very appearance, ergonomics, function and the operation of the waste water treatment plants into a very elegant, soundless, odourless, energy efficient system with a very simple user interface.


Developed by : Redchip Solution