Positive Energy - Saurabh Marda and Radhika Choudary

They’re the two young minds behind Freyr, a company that provides electricity to thousands of people in villages across India. What happened as a chance meeting at their respective spouses’alumni event ended up as the beginning of their startup journey.

What’s is your story?
I’m Radhika from Hyderabad, one of the founders of Freyr, a company that was setup in 2014. I am an engineer and for four years I was abroad; I went to Purdue to pursue my Master’s. On completion, I joined GE in the renewable energy space, and that’s how my career in that sector took off. In 2008, I moved back to India and joined a large conglomerate working as deputy GM in Lanco, as part of the startup solar team setting up big projects. This was the inception of solar in 2008, when it was new to India. It was just about taking off in India, so I’ve been in the sector for about 10 years. In 2014, I took a backseat, and that’s when Saurabh and I started Freyr.

How did the two of you meet and decide to collaborate on this venture?
We met through our spouses, since both of the mattended Columbia. He had also just moved back from the US, and is also from Hyderabad. We spent a year or two evaluating different options and models, and launched in 2014. We wanted to enter with a difference in terms of the value we add.

What exactly does your company do?
Freyr Energy provides solar powered electricity to residential, commercial and industrial customers. This sector is known as the rooftop solar segment, where the customer are converting the power themselves. We help customers offset their electricity bill.

What have been the most satisfying experiences of being young entrepreneurs?
We provide electricity to more than 100 villages in India, and that’s been one of the most phenomenal achievements. The satisfaction has been even greater. Since these people’s lives have been improved, it brings us a great sense of joy.

You must have faced some setbacks in the early day. Can you share any lessons you’ve learnt?
There are lots of good things that happen, but it becomes very important for entrepreneurs to be optimistic and balance things out, since lots of things can go wrong. It’s important to learn not to get bogged down by the negatives.

Both of you have studied in America. How did this shape your perspective on life, and how did it impact your business initiative?
I think it was very important that we both had similar backgrounds and mindsets. That is what got us so far. We are on the same page when it comes to customer quality and the satisfaction
we offer.

What are some of your other passions?
I have been an avid sportsperson, growing up. I was a national swimmer, tennis player and TT player. I really enjoy sports. Recently I have done lots of running, swimming and cycling. And I love travelling. As a family, we end up traveling quite a bit across different geographies. Saurabh too is extremely active, so he loves snowboarding, and is a certified deep-sea diver and skydiver. Stanford Seed, run by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, helps economically developing countries in education, and supports entrepreneurs that can impact the economy of the country. I’m proud to be part of the first batch in India.      – as told to Suneela