Fed up with taking orders, the engineering graduate harnesses the sun, smiling all the way to the bank
When his grandfather gave the name Sumudit, which means ‘always smiling’, he might not have envisaged Sumudit Issar smiling all the way to the bank 28 years later riding on the success of a solar company he set up with just Rs one lakh.
Delhi-based Issar launched Sharman Energy Pvt Ltd in 2017 and within two years made it into a Rs 5 crore turnover company.
“After doing projects like installation of solar street lights for Delhi police in Narela, Delhi, based on Capex Model (where the client meets all project related expenses), we are looking for bigger government projects,” he says, adding that deals worth Rs 20 crore are in the pipeline.
Hailing from a business family, Issar completed his B Tech from Indraprastha University in 2013 and joined Ashoka Electricals as Business Development Manager. He worked there for a salary of Rs 25,000 for eight months before quitting it.
“I was fed up of taking orders from people and wanted to do my own thing, so I joined our family business house, Sharman Group, which is being run by my father and uncle,” he says
There are three companies in the group. Akiko Sharman Infotech, an IT company, Indo Japan Education Services, a learning centre for Japanese language and, Akiko Sharman International, a trading company that deals in export of textiles. Issar joined the textile exports company.
“I would report to my uncle who is a hard task master,” he says. The export house mainly caters to South East Asian countries and he began to research the market demand in those countries.
Once he found a requirement by a Japanese client for a particular type of yarn which India does not produce and it turned his attention to the Japanese market. He also found that China currently exports 63% of textile material to Japan, while India’s share in the market is a measly 0.7%.
“The Japanese pay well for good quality. I decided to take our superior range of yarns, towels and bed linens to countries like Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.” Issar rattles off the detailed research he has done till now.
It was the same penchant for research in business that landed him in the present enterprise. In 2015, the Ministry of Economic Trade and Industry had organised a three-month programme in collaboration with Government of Japan and Issar was among the four people selected from India.
People from across the globe participated in the sponsored programme, which entailed tying up with Japanese companies for technical support in an endeavour to find solutions to socio economic issues.
Issar initially wanted to work on sanitary napkins, which the Japanese were not keen on and so he worked on a proposal for solar panels which was supported by E Trust, a Japanese company. His project was awarded the ‘Best Business plan’ award.
The entire team of the Disaster Risk Reduction Solutions Company, with its headquarters in Nagaoka, taught the technology and also how to set up solar panels at the project sites.
Armed with the knowledge, he returned to India and set up Sharman Energy in 2017 with an investment of Rs 1 lakh. He soon set up solar projects at schools, colleges, as well as commercial industries in Delhi, Panipat, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra.
“The land is provided by the clients and the government sanctions the load, which is anywhere between 5KW to 1 Megawatt. Industrial units in Ashok Vihar and Pitampura, Delhi, have panels to harvest 1 Megawatt, the maximum load allowed for non-government projects,” he explains.
Now there are talks of developing a BOT (Build Operate Transfer) model. “Here, the company will invest in infrastructure, sign a Power Purchase Agreement after a contract and handover the assets in next 20-25 years. The company’s revenue will be in the form of power bills raised every month,” Issar explains the revenue models.
Since there is an increased emphasis on renewable resources of energy, what with experts and general public becoming aware of depletion of conventional sources of energy, solar energy is gaining popularity, helping Sharman Energy bag contracts and grow at a rapid pace.
Issar started with two employees, but now has 12 persons on the rolls and many more contract workers deployed at installation sites.
Meanwhile, the turnover of Akiko Sharman International, the textile export firm in which Issar is a partner, also touched Rs 2.5 crore, taking the cumulative turnover of Sharman Group to Rs 20 crore in 2018-19.
Issar also has expansion plans for the textile export company. “I want to take it to more countries and also foray into the domestic market with a designer brand,” says the calm man whose day begins with a gym session, followed by meditation time.
A keen sports enthusiast, he has played basketball at Inter Zonal levels and had also actively participated in shotput and discus throw events. Basketball still remains his favourite sport which he often indulges in.
Apart from watching Netflix shows, he reads books and spends time with his family. While he learnt the nuances of business from his uncle and father, he also adores his cousin, Vikas Raj who helms a multi crore company himself.
Vikas Raj is a ‘margdarshak’ or a mentor whom Issar often turns to when he is in a catch 22 situation. He has special affection for his mother, a retired school teacher who ensured that he turned into a well groomed boy.
Calling himself a ‘wild horse only his mother could tame’, Issar says he is everything that his mother wanted him to be.
Issar is setting up an office in Japan and plans to stay there in the first quarter of 2020 to establish deeper roots in business. He has visited Japan at least seven times and has been floored by the love of Japanese people.
“Once I asked somebody (in Japan) for directions and he walked 200 metres to drop me to my destination,” he says.
But does he know the Japanese language and how much does he relish the food there?
“Initially I found Japanese food to be bland because I have been raised on Delhi’s renowned Chhole Bhature. But I have come to enjoy Japanese food now.” As far as the language goes, it is ‘chotto nihongo’, meaning ‘little bit.’
Issar, who is now pursuing an Executive MBA from the prestigious IIFT, plans to do a PhD focused on South East Asian countries and their trade relations with a focus on Japan. “So 2020 is going to be crazy with travel plans to Japan,” he says, signing off.
This Article is Part of the 'Amazing Entrepreneurs' Series