What started off as a graduation student project has now become so big that it has made a remarkable difference in the lives of more than 75,000 families in India. It all started with an intention to solve a problem which affected the people of Hubli-Dharwad, a city of 1.1 million people in the state of Karnataka. The local utility here provides water supply, twice every two or four days and sometimes even 10 days. Large storage capabilities are far-stretched concepts and impractical solutions for places like Hubli, which is a highly populated urban settlement.
The Solution: Anu Sridharan a Civil and Environmental Engineer decided to tackle this problem of erratic water supply in urban areas by addressing the most simple yet mammoth sized pain point in the water management system. When will I get the water from the tap? To find the solution for this simple answer, Anu and her team created a crowdsourcing data platform which informs the residents an hour before the water arrives via a text message. What started of as a student project called NextDrop slowly became a social enterprise that now provides reliable and accurate information about the water delivery, water cancellation and inform residents if there is any contamination or low pressure in the pipe network. On the utility side, engineers get live updates on problems pertaining the distribution system.
NextDrop currently operates across 4 cities in India, including Bangalore and Hubli where the company’s offices are located. To keep this social business running, each family is charged Rs.10 per month and for BPL Families (Below the Poverty Line) they charge Rs. 5 per month for the services.
Anu explains that the technological principles behind the NextDrop are not new. The idea is based on the model of crowd-sourcing that has been around for a while. This idea to revolutionise the water supply system has bagged various cash awards and accolades from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Knight Foundation and Google, Clinton Global Initiative University and many more.
Anu is clearly one entrepreneur who is passionate about providing more robust government services which has led to her being selected as one of the social entrepreneur’s in the Forbes “30 Social Entrepreneur’s under 30 list.” She strongly feels that an entrepreneur can attain success if that person has the courage and strength to listen to his or her gut no matter what. It’s about what you feel is right regardless of what anybody else has to say.
We feel that every aspiring entrepreneur should take a cue from her perspective on leadership. She recounts her experience of reluctantly accepting the title as the leader because she felt that she did not possess the alpha quality within. One of the interesting facts that many people don’t know about her is that according one of the personality test called Enneagram Personality Test, she was classified as a Type 2 Category human being. This category is called the helper category. Although, this is a good quality to have, but it’s certainly not the apt quality that makes a strong leader. During the time, she even thought about quitting from the position, but once she started to work with her Executive Coach and experimenting with different things she realised that every type of person can be a leader.
She firmly believes that an entrepreneur needs to find out what works for them. She feels that companies of the future are going to be the ones that can find and retain the best talent. According to her we have entered an age where Steve Jobs style of leadership is not going to work. The world has now shifted from "I'm telling you this and you must do it" to "Let's figure this out together, let's co-create together." We feel that her refreshing outlook towards entrepreneurship and leadership is exceptional and is aptly remodelled to be best fitted for today's new entrepreneurial era.