'I set out on the journey with a vision to offer a world-class product': Madhumita Agrawal

Madhumita Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of EV start-up Oben Electric that makes 2W speaks about being a leader and shares details of her personal journey as a successful entrepreneur.

By Amit Vijay M calendar 21 Mar 2023 Views icon10119 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'I set out on the journey with a vision to offer a world-class product': Madhumita Agrawal

In a world and era where internal combustion engine vehicles still rule, one would be extra cautious before taking a step in unfamiliar territory. Meet Madhumita Agrawal, who believes in future technologies and took an audacious bet on electric vehicles even before they were all the rage.

“Despite manufacturing always being the strongest hub in the country, I strongly believe that now is the time for India to also start designing in the country. Keeping the same goal in my sight, I set on the journey with a vision to offer a world-class product in terms of design, performance, reliability, and value for money,” the co-founder and CEO of Oben Electric adds.

The company is amongst the few original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to have built an entire electric motorcycle in-house, with multiple innovations and 21 patents. A true example of the Make in India success story, Madhumita gets candid about her plans for the company, as she gets ready to start deliveries of her electric motorcycle by the first half of this year.

So what's the first thing a woman should do if she is looking to take on a leadership role?
The first thing women should do if they want to get into a leadership role is to junk their gender. If you are at work or home with family as running a family is also a leadership role. The key is to tell yourself that you are in a shared responsibility world.

Once that insecurity goes out of your head, things become easy to communicate to the people around you, so they too get that you believe in equality.

So, coming from a middle-class family, how did you plan the business enterprise?
Having been brought up in a modest middle-class family and after completing my post-graduation, I went with the universal norm viz. scouting for good employment options. I landed a decent job though, only to be associated with it for a very short period. During my work phase, an early realisation set in. This was more of a strong urge of wanting to be in better control of my destiny, which could only be possible as an entrepreneur.

I wanted to be this spirited entrepreneur to whom challenges were enthralling and seeking solutions to those even more captivated.

I began my entrepreneurial journey in 2016 with my first venture being founded in technology, R&D, innovation, and IP consulting, of which one of the business units catered to the EV segment. During that time, I had the opportunity to globally cater to and support the research, technology, and IP domains of global EV companies. Additionally, I was also able to gain the most vital expertise and skill required to build a profitable business whilst bootstrapping at the same time.

Keeping the same goal in my sight, I set out on the journey with a vision to offer a world-class product in terms of design, performance, reliability, and value for money. Today, we are one of the leading electric motorcycle manufacturers in the country that is designing, developing, manufacturing in-house, and pioneering in advanced battery technology, which is a very critical component in an EV.

What’s your message to the budding women leaders who want to make it big?
My basic principles in operating a business have been about laying importance on the four crucial P’s that is Persistence, Perseverance, Practicality, and Passion.

That is the exact culture I intend on building within my organisation. There are no shortcuts to making good things. It is just smart work.

How challenging has your journey been?
Unlike any entrepreneur in the start-up space, I too faced a couple of challenges such as scarcity of vendors, local suppliers of quality components, and a dearth of workforce with the required EV skillset. Each problem was looked at as a huge opportunity to build on.

So, I changed my approach and said why not develop my component to suit my product rather than wait for vendors to provide what I needed? Also with keen foresight, it was possible to bring on board a stellar team and a combined 20+ years of hands-on expertise in designing, developing & manufacturing electric two-wheelers. With challenges turned into opportunities, my aim has always been to build a product keeping the Indian consumers, Indian environment, and infrastructure in mind.

This interview was first published in Autocar Professional's March 15, 2023 issue.

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