Meet Aviral Garg!
On a visit to his hometown Kanpur during his summer break last year, 17-year-old Aviral Garg (pictured above) watched in disgust as a passenger in the car in front threw a cold drink can out of the window.
This single event spawned an idea that would take up most of Garg's time in the coming weeks.
A student at Doon school, Aviral Garg had watched Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak on television about the Swachch Bharat campaign and wanted to be part of it.
When he saw the can being chucked on the road, Aviral saw an opportunity.
A bin for cars would be a good idea, he thought. He went online for more information.
"I came across a few products but they were either overpriced or would cause discomfort to the passengers," he said via email.
Unable to find a suitable product, he drew a rough sketch of what he had in mind and approached a local vendor and maker of bags.
"He pointed out a few flaws in my design. I reworked the design on the basis of his advice and other ideas that came to my mind.
"I looked at the design of similar products such as pouches and small bags and tried to incorporate the ideas that would suit my bin.
"Once the design was finalised, I started looking at the materials which would make the bin cheap without compromising its quality.
"Canvas and matte fulfilled these criteria, but ultimately I chose matte as it was lighter, stronger and cheaper."
Garg kept some basic criteria in mind while designing the bin:
- It should not topple over when the car is in motion
- It should be spacious, but not obstruct passenger comfort.
- It should be cheap but also look smart
- It should be washable.
One of Garg's biggest challenges was to keep the costs minimal while at the same time not compromise on quality.
"(That and) my lack of experience in such a task was quite an obstacle," he adds.
After perfecting the design, he handed out a few samples to his friends for feedback and before long he was looking at mass producing his product.
A local bag maker agreed to manufacture 100 pieces of his bin.
After some more back and forth and toying with the colour green (to go with the green initiative) for his bin, Garg decided that Henry Ford was probably right when he made a case for black.
"Green wouldn't go with all cars," he reasoned. "Green matte was costlier than the standard black or blue matte and the stains would show prominently on green."
Promoting the bin was the next big challenge.
The Kanpur Half Marathon that was held in early February presented a good opportunity.
The theme of the marathon was Clean Kanpur. The organisers offered him a stall for free.
Garg had to go back to boarding school so his parents manned the stall.
Priced at Rs 180, the bin was a hit and Aviral Garg was over the moon.
Some 72 of the 100 pieces he had manufactured were sold. He placed an order for another 100.
"I wasn't making a phenomenal profit, but I was extremely happy. I was able to fulfil my primary objective which was to raise awareness and sell a large number of bins for a cleaner India," he says.
Garg sees a huge growth potential in his product and plans to brand it.
Recently, he sold his bins at a prize-distribution ceremony at his school; one of the buyers was Priyanka Gandhi.
Aviral Garg believes his product can go places.
"I am in the process of working on its brand name and logo. After I have finalised those, I will target automobile dealers and e-commerce websites."
And to think all this began with someone throwing a soft drink can out of their car, a sight we all see frequently and do nothing about.