Founding a Company in a Remote World: Prak and Dinaz

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Prakruti Kodali has an MBA from the Indian School of Business, and has spent 7 years as a consultant, advisor and strategist. Her co-founder, Dinaz Zenobia Tamboli, has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Monash University, and was previously an Assistant Professor at Beihang University.

Prak and Dinaz joined Entrepreneur First earlier this year, and quickly had to adapt to remote working during the global pandemic. We spoke to them about how they’ve adapted to this new world, and what they’re building in spite of these challenges.

You’re one of the first cohorts to experience the EF programme remotely. What’s that been like?

Remote form initially took a little getting used to because we felt that we were much more productive when we met in person and worked out of carpenter street.

But we quickly adapted and got used to remote pitches, zoom meetings and working from home.

As a scientist and purely technical person, I’m extremely introverted so, for me personally, this ended up being easier in some ways. Prak is the bubbly, cheerful, people person so she missed the coffee breaks at Jimmy Monkey Cafe and the opportunity for conversations or introductions to leads that that would invariably bring.

But adaptability is key in entrepreneurship and we both quickly realised that our efficiency at home went up because of lack of distractions.

How have you overcome some of the obstacles that remote working presents?

The biggest challenge for us has been developing the tech. With no access to laboratories or manufacturing facilities, we were forced to innovate and come up with new ways of developing a proof of concept. That led to setting up a small make-shift lab at home and improvise on the manufacturing process.

Instead of using traditional laboratory equipment, we decided to use kitchen equipment and simple food-grade ingredients to make environmentally safe flexible packaging films.

On the commercial front, we’ve continued to have zoom meetings and kept our leads warm by constantly updating them on our progress.

 

What are you building at EF?

We are going to manufacture pellets that will ultimately be used to make 100% plant-based, marine biodegradable flexible packaging films. These films are currently cold water soluble and can be used in the maritime industry, hospitals and FMCG companies for some specific products.

We will also iterate further to make the films hot-water soluble and then non-soluble but still marine biodegradable to open up a host of other applications. 

We’ve had a hugely positive response from the industry because, instead of targeting everyday consumer applications like straws and takeaway cutlery, we are going after the supply chains of big companies where the bulk of the single-use plastic problem lies.

 

Applications are now open to join our next cohort. For more information, see our homepage: joinef.com

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