Abhishek is an enthusiastic tech entrepreneur, co-founder, business head, team builder, people person, and a lifelong learner. He is a self-starter, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Thinking differently and putting his best efforts to attain the unattainable is what motivates him to continuously improve in this ever-evolving ‘start-up’ industry. Abhishek’s start-up ‘Recykal’ works towards empowering businesses to achieve their EPR target and other stakeholders to get complete traceability and transparency with help of its digital technology solution: Recykal.
Prior to Recykal, Abhishek worked for Accor group of hotels as an Operations Manager. 7 years of hospitality industry experience tremendously helped Abhishek to improve his communication and networking skills. He became “a pro multitasker”.
Abhishek’s journey from the hospitality industry to a tech start-up is quite unusual and often astonishes people. Both industries demand ‘strong people skills’ and he has it in inexhaustible quantities.
Excerpts From The Vision Board Interview With Abhishek Deshpande
Research Driven approach & implementation of Waste management in India.
I will share some experiences, in when early days every business starting we do a lot of research right, so I have mentioned that not coming from the background of waste management or sustainability, so one of the way to learn this domain was doing the research. We hit the wall very early because we did not find much data exist in the ecosystem or even on the internet also because it was all extrapolated data some survey done in 2008 or 2009 and then populated in roaming, going around right not with it, it was with the government of India as well as even the other platforms as well so we’ve realized that there is no data exists, it was more a theoretical thing was available on multiple platforms. That’s one of the reason that we decided to get on the ground and get that first-hand experience and understand how the real ecosystem works. On the paper or on the whatever the research documents you have seen or even the policies or the Waste Management rule, whatever is there which is launched in 2016. So still it is more theoretical ground level reality, the stakeholder definitions are not exactly matching with the ground level personas of the stakeholder, there is little mismatch. But yes I have seen there is a transition happened and a good transition happen or a good change happened when I was doing like in 2015-16 and now when I’m interacting with other stakeholders and all. Waste Management ecosystem is matured in the country in last two to three years. I still remember when I was going and meeting people on the stakeholders in 2016-17, there was a lot of negative perception was associated with the waste management, they never looked at that as an opportunity. So that has been changed. When I used to say that we are going to build a digital solution and we are working on it and we’re going to implement in the waste management, people used to laugh on us, people used to say who’s going to use the technology in the past . So that has been changed drastically or in last couple of years and that is a one of the driver now, see sustainability or Waste Management the problem is all about our mindset you will able to implement all these policies and everything when there is acceptance so that is a change happening government has or rather I have seen the major driver was a Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. If you remember before that nobody was talking the waste nobody was serious about the least right so we never realized that a government campaign is literally a mind change the perception about waste change or people felt the need for it. Before that, it was a very ignored subject so that has helped us a lot, but every day I can tell you that if I have seen like if I look back for my like five-six years of Journey now it is a great level of acceptance people are taking the waste management seriously and whatever we Human Being happen with the Covid and all people really understand the you cannot play around with the nature. before that the same people with whom I used to interact with they used to say it’s okay you’re doing something but they never understood what is the climate change why the you cannot play around with the nature what is the impact how it can intense so the Covid also changed the perception and then that is getting the lot of boost, also all of a sudden we have heard Shared economy, Gig economy and all but last one year I started hearing a lot of people or even a government bodies started talking about a Circular economy, which is a very positive change happening in the country. So people are noticing that there is a need of the circular economy. so a lot of policy level uh work is happening, Niti ayog is very active. Interacting with the stakeholders or startups or entrepreneurs understanding what Innovations are happening in the country and then they are taking those inputs for the making the new policies which is a good change happening in the country.
How has recognition from World Economic Forum enabled Recykal's growth story?
I’ll tell you something like it was always a dream for a recycle team to get that kind of recognition because we have seen the days where people were not taking us seriously rejecting us and that it always has that power of rejection. We always decided to fight back even my patches was all these authorities or our bodies we used to say that the problem in the country is the mindset and people are looking Waste as a Waste, not as an opportunity. So in country like India only two things works, like Fear or a greed right. So we have to do something interesting if we have to solve this problem .Even though People Like Us 10 hundreds even recycle there is opportunity for all those companies right but the thing is if we have to this solve this problem we need a new approach or new way of doing these things. So if we show that there is a money available or there is opportunity, it is not a waste, it is a raw material for someone and you can build a business out of it. A lot of Youth will come into it, the negative perception about this business needs to be changed you have to show that this is a business. So we are proud to say that we are for profit organization, more business we will do , if tomorrow we will become a unicorn the that kind of business we are doing the end product the end result is obviously positive or environmental impact. So everywhere it’s a win to win win situation. So we wanted to change the perception on the Nationwide, we wanted more acceptance to our product and solutions. So we were looking who will understand this psyche or a mindset, because people used to say what you’re talking about mobile why you need a mobile app. But it always happens, it’s a human cycle if somebody external is accepting or appreciating, there is a people start recognizing you. So that happens, look we were started interacting with the world economic forum and all we were part of world of world economic forums, first accelerator program. So they have seen our product, they have seen our vision and they aligned and they it was a great validation for uh teams effort uh time and efforts which we are putting for last three four years got validated by World economic forum and that was a very moral booster for the team also and that we never looked after after that because we completed the accelerator program we have uh learned from the experts from the on the global platform who are part of world economic Forum so that knowledge exchange uh helped us a lot to get that growth in just few months and after six to eight months even World economic Forum announced as a Tech Pioneers for 2022, which is this financial year right this year. So that the challenge currently what we have or a people like me have is Talent, obviously there is no talent exist because it’s a very new domain. So very small pool of talent and similarly expertise also because throughout the globe this is a circular economy waste management system, it is very new subject, so very niche, new experts are there. So sometimes you have to make those mistakes and learn from your mistakes and there is no one to help you I always say that my initially challenge was, look ola Is ola today because Uber was there to look that, so Ola never started from zero or a minus but even Flipkart is Flipkart today because Amazon was there to look at right, so they never started from that scratch for but for the Recycle, we are the first mover we definitely have a first more Advantage but that Advantage is sometimes difficult also because we have to create our own benchmarking. you have to finish that learning curve which sometimes it’s very taxing or very frustrating also you have to make mistakes learn from this mistake, but yeah everything has a pros and cons so we are experiencing that and such validations from such a uh authorities is uh definitely making our vision more stronger and stronger every day.