Introducing Green Grahi Solutions
Last week I had the chance to speak with co-founders, and as they proudly claim, "life-partners", Siddharth Sharma (1Y MBA at Kellogg 2022) and Shivali Sugand (Humboldt Fellow 2018) to speak about Green Grahi Solutions. The dynamic duo has made immense progress over the past year on bringing their food waste management solution closer to market. With several innovation competitions approaching in the coming months, Siddharth and Shivali foresee 2022 being a breakout year for their startup.
As Co-Founders with close ties to India, Shivali and Siddharth have first-hand experience with the food waste problem that exists across large parts of the country. Throughout Siddharth's childhood and adolescence he had always enjoyed "Raw nature" in Roorkee, a small town at the foothills of the Himalayas. After spending 6 years away from home, In 2017, Siddharth returned to Roorkee to join his family business, astounded to see how the green spaces had been overtaken by concrete buildings, garbage disposal areas, and litter spots. As days went by, Siddharth began looking for a solution to India's waste management problem.
By 2019, Shivali had spent three years in Germany helping design waste management facilities. Armed with firsthand domain experience in the waste management industry, she was already planning on returning to India to bring her consulting expertise back home. When the couple started dating, she provided the spark and expertise that Siddharth needed in both a life-partner and co-founder. They quickly found that their skills, networks, and entrepreneurial spirits all complemented each other from the beginning of their relationship.
Life As Co-Founders
Today the couple has successfully developed a solution that harnesses the value of food waste. Until recently, this waste was disposed in landfills, adversely affecting the soil, ground water, and health of the surrounding local communities. Using Insect bio-conversion technology formed from black soldier flies, they are able to transform the food waste into animal feed and organic fertilizer.
Incubated at TIDES, IIT Roorkee, a successful startup program in India, and accelerated at the Kellogg School of Management's prestigious Zell Fellows Program, the couple has successfully developed an innovative insect bioconversion process and state of the art composting technology over the last year and a half. In Siddharth's words, ‘We have a fast growing population and we simply do not have enough feed to nourish the animals which we in turn eat. Insects are part of a natural diet for multiple animals and is a promising alternative protein which can be used to feed fish and to meet rising demand for animal proteins.
Having received strong interest from the aqua-culture industry, Siddharth & Shivali plan to close their seed round so that they can soon start to scale their R&D plans to develop India’s first industrial scale pilot facility. Their goal is to scale their manufacturing so that ultimately their insect-based feed can serve as a viable alternative for major feed companies and fish farmers.
While it is clear that the duo has proven themselves successful innovators from a technical perspective, what most inspired me is the couple’s dedication to social entrepreneurship. Aware of the growing concerns around food security, climate change, and socio-economic inequalities that exist throughout India, the Co-Founders have intentionally set up a mission to close the loop of nutrient cycling by creating an inclusive ecosystem for female employees within their workforce.
This program has already lead to direct and tangible change for the communities they work in. To boot, they have taken advantage of their networks back home in India and here at Northwestern, partnering with the Kellogg Social Entrepreneurship Impact program to help scale the implementation of their food waste management solutions.
Work As Life-Partners
As Life-Partners, Shivali and Siddharth have experienced the many benefits (and few of the difficulties) that can come with working with a significant other. Their families have been mentors, supporters, and advisors throughout their lives together.
While the family businesses do not fall within the waste management space, Shivali and Siddharth have learned how to work with the government from their family’s experience, which will be a vital tool in bringing their vision to reality. Aware of the difficulties they will face in the near future, the couple is grateful to “have an honest relationship where there is always a shoulder to lean on, and always a person to back you up.” They have also been mindful about “creating time for cutting out business to simply enjoy themselves as life partners”.
The ingenuity, patience, and dedication that the entrepreneurial couple shares with each other is palpable, even over Zoom. With the infrastructure and foundation Shivali and Siddharth have set up, both as Co-Founders and life-partners, I have no doubt that Green Grahi Solutions is ready for what lies ahead.
Author: Julian Evan Musikant