Mumbai: Abhishek Jain has come a long way since he left a high-profile job in Deloitte to help Indians save electricity at home.
His online initiative, bijlibachao.com, not only helps analyse electricity bills but also calculates how a consumer can save money by choosing the right colour for a room and correctly placing appliances.
“An electricity bill is a confusing entity. If the bill is Rs.2,000-3,000, let’s go pay it, but how it gets to Rs.2,000-3,000 no one knows, and one just goes and pays the bill. The whole idea is to help them understand why the amount has gone up and help reduce it,” said 31-year-old Jain, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology and founder of the website.
Appliances such as refrigerators can save electricity if appropriately placed in the house, according to him. It is a well-known fact that refrigerators release heat, but if it is not given ample place, it will not cool properly, affecting its efficiency. Stuffing it with warm food uses up a lot of electricity, risking its efficiency. Such tips are on the website for viewers to read.
Bijli Bachao (Save Electricity), a self-funded project, is the outcome of a deep desire to learn and spread the importance of saving electricity in every Indian household, considering the fact that there has always been a demand-supply mismatch in our country. But most importantly, with rising electricity tariffs, this site gives consumers convenient ways to save money at home, making it a win-win situation. The online portal that provides electricity solutions does not require any special installation and is absolutely free.
Jain’s project has been short-listed for this year’s Manthan Awards.
The site features 100 online blogs and five online software tools to help consumers. Since its inception in February 2012, the number of viewers has risen significantly. “Back in March when we started monitoring the traffic on the site, we used to get 5-6 views,” said Jain. “Now our daily viewership is around 2,000.”
Jain does of lot of search-engine optimization to make sure that the Internet traffic is directed towards his site. “The first thing I looked at was, what is it that people are searching for electricity? And we realized that it was online electricity bill payment option, and so the first post we created was about links to online bill payment options,” he said. This played to the website’s advantage as most bill payment sites are not easily located by search engines; this started drawing attention to Jain’s website. Besides that, Jain has registered a presence at all social media websites.
Jain’s wife and team member, Manisha Jain, says when users post comments such as “you are doing a wonderful job for the country”, it makes her really proud of what her husband is doing. Though an IIT-ian herself, she is not actively involved in the day-to-day development of BijliBachao. However, she was very much the inspiration behind the site. Manisha, an energy systems engineer, got Jain interested in her field, who saw a lot of potential in it. Having lived in the US, the energy startups inspired him and that is when the idea was conceived.
Jain, who always wanted to be an entrepreneur, one day left his job with one of the world’s Big Four professional services firm and started Bijli Bachao in February. Since the couple’s return from the US in 2009, they have wanted to spread awareness about saving electricity as they had been successfully following it themselves.
While setting up house, they kept in mind to use appropriate tube lights such as T5 and the results were noticeable. “In our new society, where our bill used to be around Rs.1,200-1,500 per month, our neighbours used to pay Rs.5,000-6000 for the same. So we thought that we are certainly doing well and we should share it.”
Visitors can subscribe to the website for free and avail services such as monthly tips and newsletters that carry information on new developments. “Right now it is (business model) is all advertisement based,” Jain said. “But we soon plan to make it more personalized and start a paid service called ‘help’ at Bijli Bachao.”
“Initially, we wanted to start an automated service, but we do not have enough data,” he added. “So, we are taking a more manual approach by helping citizens with their electricity bills. Slowly, we will make it automated and a formal process where people can ask us directly for help.”
The promising entrepreneur also has plans to work with utilities such as Reliance and Tata. “A lot of utilities run such programmes. Reliance was running a programme on T5 tube lights, which is a very good initiative. They were selling those tube lights that otherwise cost Rs.550 in shops. They were giving it for Rs.350.”
Bijli Bachao would like to help with the marketing of such programmes on its website. When it comes to offline action, Jain indulges in small things such as consulting housing societies. After looking at the site, many call him, asking for consultation for their society.However, he is not seeking funding from venture capitalists. “We want to grow organically because social enterprises lose track as venture capitalists come into the picture.”
Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan Awards.
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