case in social entrepreneurship (Ecozen Solutions)
Under the Guidance
Dr. Nisha Bharti
HOD – Agribusiness
PRN – 16020242010
MBA – Agribusiness
Symbiosis Institute of International Business
January 23, 2018
Table of Contents
Background of founders. 3
Current Scenario. 4
Cold Chain Scenario in
Technology Overview.. 4
A step towards Micro Cold
Revolution in agriculture. 6
Micro Cold Room Key
Innovation and IP. 7
Working Explanation. 8
Unique Features. 9
of Solar Cold Room.. 10
Ecofrost v/s Traditional
Cold Storage. 11
Subsidy Details as per
MIDH Operational Guidelines Ecofrost – Cold room with pre-cooling &
staging facility 12
Installation Details of
Future prospect 13
Challenges need to be
One fine morning in Pune neither too cold nor too warm, Co-founder
& CEO of Ecozen Solutions Devendra Gupta was thinking of his Startup
present situation with a cup of tea. He has a meeting today with Prateek Singha
(Co-founder & COO) and Vivek Pandey (Co-founder and CTO) alone with senior
leader of the company. Today’s meeting will decide where company want to go
ahead. The first product of Ecozen Solutions is solar irrigation controller
which was launched in 2010 was a great hit in the market and has acquired 95%
of the market share in Chhattisgharh. But in other part of the country due to
high competition product is not quite popular. The 2nd product which
was launched in 2014 is solar micro cold storage (ecofrost) which has a
capacity to store up to 5 tonnes of fruits, vegetables and flowers. But now
there social entrepreneurship venture is not going well as This product is
struggling in market due to low acceptance because of various reason such as
high price, delay in subsidy approval, lack of right value proposition or many
be wrong business model. Various question are going on in the mind of Devendra
Gupta are mention in the last page of this case.
Background of founders
Three entrepreneur from IIT Kharagpur, Devendra Gupta, Batch
2006 -10, Prateek Singhal Batch 2006 – 10, Vivek Pandey batch 2006 to 2012,
dual degree B.tech plus M.tech. they joined hands together as a collage
friends. By nature, they were fun loving not at all serious but in the final
year they got the idea of product and motivated for doing something that
prosper the lives of Indian farmers by solving the right problem. Now they have
entered in the cold chain segment in India with their innovative product micro
Cold Storage- a solar powered cold storage system.
The founders believe that to invent one needs a good
imagination and great inventions can build on the success for others, but
progress rarely follows a straight line. Considering the field of solar power,
innovation doesn’t come knocking. Rather, daunting challenges inspire great
minds to invent ingenious solutions, Ecofrost is one such solution.
The green revolution created a sense of euphoria that we
have solved our production problems. Today we have a problem of under
investment in rural infrastructure says Devendra Gupta.
Farmers are not getting better price for their
produce at mandi.
India loses agriculture produce worth Rs. 44000
crores, majorly at source level
The value of produce is lost due to improper
India being the second largest producer of
horticulture still ranks 15th when it comes to the export of those
Development of food processing industries
require first mile pack houses and cooling facilities
Cold Chain Scenario in India
A large percentage of Indian population dependents on agriculture
for livelihood. Though it is important to increase productivity and produce
more varieties and products from the same acreage of land it is also important
to manage the produce well postharvest. The wastage is 0.5-4% in food grains
and 4%-18% in different horticultural crops, the latter evidently being high
value and more perishable.
This calls for a clear step for post-harvest management in the
first mile i.e. the farm to arrest the value loss.
There is a clear co-relation between power availability
& the viability of the cold room facilities. Operating cold rooms in any regions
without at least 20 hrs/day availability of power is unviable. And for this diesel
generators are used as a power source, which are very costly and unviable too.
Solar micro cold room Ecofrost, is a small-scale standalone
hybrid solar powered cold room meant to store fresh fruits, vegetables,
flowers, processed foods and other perishable commodities. It is a pioneering
product in the cold chain space that bundles various innovations together.
The unit is a solar powered cold room with thermal storage
backup for storage of fresh produce – fruits, vegetables & flowers
specifically. The unit has dimensions of 20 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft with solar panels
mounted on the rooftop of the unit. Ecofrost maintains a temperature in the
range of 2?C to 10?C and can maintain 80-95% relative humidity.
Ecofrost system has battery-less compressor operation. A
small battery is provided to operate only the auxiliary loads and the control
Ecofrost product enables both pre-cooling and storage of
perishables to preserve their freshness and maximize shelf life. It comes with
every feature of an ideal cold room and is completely standalone. It is
hybridized with any other source of energy as the need to be fulfil.
The product Ecofrost fits conveniently at various nodes in
the cold chain, offering lucrative value propositions for each customer. Its
robust and smart controls enable maintaining temperature, humidity and
air-quality parameters at just the right levels inside the storage volume. Intuitive
human-machine interface is providing a hassle-free and an unparalleled user
The unique battery-less back-up system provides cooling for
several non-sunny hours and even on the next day. This thermal storage
technology entails minimum maintenance and operational costs.
A step towards Micro Cold Revolution in agriculture
To address majority of these challenges, Ecofrost, a small
scale (micro) cold room system is developed that will operate on sustainable
power source. Ecofrost micro cold room owned by a farmer will enable him to
time the market right. It will de-risk the farmer and give him negotiating
leverage as compared to being forced to sell due to fear of perishing
commodities thereby leading to lower prices. Ecofrost can act as both
pre-cooler as well as cold room while controlling the humidity of the produce.
Having both storage and pre-cooling facilities at source, Ecofrost will also enable
excellent produce quality to last for longer durations thus allowing the producers
to pursue farther markets and boosting exports. It will add on to reduce the
loss of value which happens at the production source at farm level.
Ecofrost can be powered by Solar and it uses innovative
thermal storage technology for 24-30 hours’ power backup during the
non-sunshine hours. The passive thermal storage design allows for efficiency
close to 100% and works on radiant cooling than forced convection alone.
The system is portable and it can be shifted from one
location to another. The system also has the capability to charge itself
completely with just 6-8 hours of grid power. It will automatically detect
critical conditions and switch to grid and charge the system in case of poor
Micro Cold Room Key Features
21 metric cube storage capacity
Grid & DG hybridization
2 to 10 degrees Celsius, 80% – 95% RH
Battery Less- Thermal Storage Technology
Remote monitoring & Predictive diagnostic
Innovation and IP
Ecofrost harnesses solar energy from PV panels which is fed
directly to the compressor via a drive that works on algorithms developed by
their technical team and ensures maximum utilization of solar power generated
while accounting for variations in solar insolation, variations in load inside the
cold storage (depending on time of day, amount of produce loaded, location
etc.) and user’s set points. Cooling is generated due to compressor’s operation
which is used to cool the room and create back-up in the form of thermal
storage system. The thermal storage system and the room cooling system work in tandem
to maintain the set-point at all points of time and ensure that the system has
enough back-up to run for the maximum time possible when any power is not
available. A part of the solar power generated also charges a small battery
which is meant for control system operation and running auxiliary loads. Below
is a pictorial representation of the working principle of Ecofrost.
Thermal Storage back-up
The thermal storage back-up
provided by Ecofrost ensures, the system runs for 24 – 30 hr during non-sunny
hours. This is different from a typical thermal storage mechanism where a
central back up is created and then disseminated to the room causing
Predictive Analytics based maintenance
Our technology enables us to do
preventive maintenance of the system. This is made possible through our remote
monitoring system. The data from this is analyzed to make conclusions on the
health of the system even before the downtime is triggered.
The control system is the brain of
the product which ensures smooth functioning of the product. Its unique
algorithms have been developed in-house to enable the system’s operation 24×7.
The system is enabled with remote
monitoring features that sends minute by minute data on the operational
conditions and health of the system.
The power electronics components
which go into the product had been designed for the product that ensure
efficient solar utilization, compressor operation and back-up creation.
Battery less compressor operation
Ecofrost operates its compressor
and maintains temperature of 2-10 degree Celsius without the support of
battery. This unique technology innovation helps to work efficiently that
provide a backup of 24-30 hours during non-sunny days without any battery being
Technical Specification of Solar Cold Room
20 ft by 8 ft by 8 ft
Cold room insulation
Poly Urethane Foam, 100 mm, 40+/- 2 kg/m3
Cold room body
Pre-painted galvanized iron
Insulation: PUF Thickness: 100 mm
PVC to reduce Heat infiltration on door openings
(~1.8 TR approx.) @ -5 C Evaporating & 50 C Condensing
5 MT depending upon commodity
2-10 Degree C by using set point control as per req.
80-95% by using set point controlled
Wall Mounted Plate Type Thermal Energy Storage
24 -30 hours (non-door opening & 5.5 KW/m2/day
Per minute logging, GPRS based, viewable on desktop and smartphones
24 V 100 Ah
Solar Power Capacity
Alternative power source
Grid or DG Hybrid
Ecofrost v/s Traditional Cold Storage
Conventional cold room
work required, commissioning of system within a day.
Intelligent Remote monitoring
Available on your hand held devices
100 mm PUF
40 – 60 mm
PUF, less efficient and consumes more power
Easy to transport, portable
standard shipping size
Fixed structure, cannot be
energy – Hybridization
system, runs on grid supply too
Grid is the
Approx. Rs. 39,000
Approx. Rs. 2,34,000
intuitive system and intelligent controls harness the solar energy in the
most efficient way
Temperature and relative
Temp.: 2 -10 C
RH: 80 -95 %
functionality Ecofrost technical team knows beforehand which module will
breakdown and sends its service team on time
* Assuming per unit cost of diesel generator is INR 26,
Ecofrost will run on DG set for 60 cloudy days, Normal Cold Room will consume
Subsidy Details as per MIDH Operational Guidelines
Ecofrost – Cold room with pre-cooling & staging facility
Ecofrost is small-scale solar powered cold room, having a
stand-alone capacity of 5-6 MT. The system contains 1 MT of pre-cooling and 4-5
MT of staging /storage arrangement. Once the commodity is precooled, it can be
stored in the system depending on the market demand as well as the shelf life
of it. This unit can also serve as the packaging unit for the commodities
It is a pioneering product in the cold chain space that
bundles various innovations together. It can be hybridized with any other
source of energy as the need be. Using novel technologies developed
ingeniously, the product is set apart from any of its counterparts.
Coupled with smart control along with user interface, it
maintains temperature, humidity and air-quality parameters inside the room at
recommended conditions thereby ensuring freshness and long shelf life for
commodity that is stored. The unique battery-less back-up system entails very
low maintenance and running costs. Innovative thermal storage technology
provides 24- 36 hrs backup during the non-sunshine hours. The passive thermal
storage design allows for efficiency close to 100% and works on radiant cooling
than forced convection alone.
As per the MIDH Operational Guidelines:
PRE-COOLING UNIT – MIDH has clearly defined a
benchmark cost of 25 lacs for 6 MT pre-cooling capacity for availing the
subsidy. It has also mentioned that other designs and capacity subsidy benchmark
will be calculated on pro-rata basis. Hence this product can meet a benchmark
of 4.1 lacs for the same.
COLD ROOM (Staging): MIDH has clearly stated a
benchmark price of 15 lacs for 30 MT for cold room staging facilities. Hence
this product will meet a benchmark price of 2.5 lacs for the same as it has 4-5
MT staging capacity.
ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY : Solar PV with phase
change material project can be considered 100% with maximum limit of Rs 35 lacs
per project. In our product the cost of 4KWp solar system with phase change
material thermal back up is around 7.5 lacs
Programmed Logic controller equipment PLC : 50%
of the cost as per original invoice can be considered for electronic and
electrical logic controls for machinery and equipment with maximum limit of Rs
10 lacs. In this product the cost of controls and logic is around 1 lac and
hence Rs 50,000/- can be considered for benchmarking against subsidy.
Hence as per the current guidelines of MIDH, our
Solar Micro Cold Room can meet a benchmark price of Rs 15.10 lacs for availing
35% to 50% subsidy.
Installation Details of Ecofrost
Total of 60 micro cold storage has been sold till now. And
most of the client are the agriculture and research institute and corporate.
Very few farmers have purchase this product. Ecofrost is also taken by the
client on rest basis from the period range between 3 months to 6 months.
Company is currently looking for expanding the business.
Hence, they are hiring interns and special project manager for development of
new business model and idea that established its food print into the cold chain
segment as a leader. Company as set its vision 2020 as 1 million tons Capacity
for cooling perishables in rural & semi urban areas to reduce wastage by
setting up 10,000 Ecofrost.
Company is also thinking on the development of online market
place for farmers so that they can sell their produce to buyers directly. And this
market place will be linked with its product micro cold storage.
And for transportation they are into development of palate
size cold room, that can be used for the transportation instead of using refeed
Company is also targeting the poly-house fruits, vegetable
and flower growers for selling of micro cold storage.
Company is also working towards the development of low cost
technology for this micro cold storage so that the cost of the production can
be reduce their by increasing the viability and affordability of the farmers,
the one for whom the product has been designed.
Challenges need to be resolved
How price of the product can be lowered from
while taking subsidy process is very delay
and lot of paper work is required also sometimes subsidy does not get approved
result in loss of prospect client. What can be done about it?
What should be the business model for
Ecofrost – micro cold storage, weather company should go toward rest model as
the price of product is high and investment of 15 lacs is too much for the
farmers, or company should sell the Ecofrost but how?
What is the target market for the Ecofrost?
What should be the positioning of the
How customers acceptance can be increased
for this product?
What should be the sales and marketing
What is the feasible price at which
consumers acceptance will increase?
What can be done so that the cost of
Is company future prospect right, if not
what can be done, and how company can achieve its vision 2020?