The Bijli Bachao Story

When Abhishek Jain was trying to set up his house in Mumbai, India, he was shocked to see how the rising electricity costs were burning pockets of his neighbors.

That’s when he decided to use his technology skills to create BijliBacho.in – an online platform that helps people to understand their energy consumption pattern and reduce their electricity bills through software and resourceful articles.

In this entrepreneur interview, Abhishek tells us the complete story behind Bijli Bachao and how he switched from an IT industry to start up in the energy sustainability industry. I think this interview should inspire those who think lack of knowledge about a particular industry is stopping them from starting up.

Q: How did the idea for Bijli Bacho come about?

Bijlibachao.in is the outcome of a deep desire to learn and spread the importance of saving electricity to everyone who uses it. The objective is to help households and small offices reduce their electricity consumption and their electricity bills. To do so bijlibacho.in features articles and software to create knowledge-base and tools to help people understand:

1) Their electricity bills
2) Power Consumption of various appliances they own
3) Power Consumption of appliances people are trying to buy
4) Understand electricity efficient technologies available in the market
5) Understand better and efficient ways of handling and using various appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, water heaters, fans, computers, etc.

While setting up our house in Mumbai, my wife Manisha (who has been working in energy efficiency since last many years and is BEE certified energy auditor) made sure that we were choosing right technologies and we were setting/using appliances in the right way. All this made sure that we were spending quite reasonable on our electricity bills even though the tariffs were really high in Mumbai.

Comparing electricity bills with neighbors with similar appliance ownership and usage patterns I realized that we were doing better. Inquiring more we realized that most people are concerned about their electricity bills but are unaware of ways with which they can reduce their bills. On the other side, it is well know that the supply of electricity doesn’t match with its demand in our country.

Coupled with this is the problem of CO2 emissions and climate change associated with electricity generation. This prompted us to think of ways with which we can help consumers in the country to reduce the electricity bills and contribute in bridging the widening demand supply gap in the country.

We also realized that there is a lot of potential in reducing electricity consumption in households and small offices, but the same is difficult to tap. The distribution utilities in different States offer variety of programs for efficient appliances such as CFLs, tubelights, fans, air-conditioners but they often complain very low response rate for such programs. Most of these programs go unnoticed and the investment in planning and implementing these programs do not get desired rate of returns.

Reaching out to electricity consumers to make them aware of the importance of saving electricity is a daunting task for any distribution utility. One of the challenges in the same is smaller transaction value while dealing with such customers. These programs need maximum outreach at lowest cost. And that is what Internet is best known for. It can help aggregate the needs and demands of so many customers and can provide one single platform to achieve the desired change.

Q: What kind of background do you have as an energy/cleantech entrepreneur?

I have 10 years experience in IT industry. I was working with one of the Big 4 consulting firms before I started Bijli Bachao. Of the 10 years I spent a significant amount of time in the US. I did my Btech in Chemical Engg from IIT Bombay.

My wife Manisha is a Energy Systems Engineer (Mtech from IIT Bombay), a certified energy auditor and has 8 years experience in energy efficiency and policy related work. She has worked for organizations like TERI and ABPS where she activily worked on policies related to DSM (Demand Side Management).

Q: After you decided to pursue this idea, what was the process of starting a business?

Utilities in Mumbai and Delhi have started putting in efforts to help people reduce their electricity bills. They are doing it because the glaring demand supply gap is making it important for them to help people reduce their electricity consumption. During peak hours the utilities have to pay a lot more to buy excess electricity from generation companies than the tariff they charge which impacts their financial vaiability. Most of these utilities are private utilities and thus profit making is very important for them. Thus, it is important for them to manage this demand supply gap.

It is important for state utilities as well to manage this but the process is slow over there. So we saw a business opportunity here to help utilities by helping the consumers reduce their electricity consumption. Bijli Bachao is looking to partner with utilities in their effort to help manage this supply demand gap.

Read Part 2 of this interview

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Bijli Bachao Logo About Bijli Bacho: Bijli Bachao is an initiative that aims to help residential & MSME customers to reduce their electricity consumption thereby reducing the monthly outflow of money towards electricity bill. For more info, visit them at www.bijlibachao.in