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Pivoting our idea using the Business Model Canvas

Akshay Roongta
Amrutdhara

Co-founder & COO

India sells an estimated 1 million bottles of water everyday. Pic: Flickr user iHyd, Sanjay
India sells an estimated 1 million bottles of water everyday. Pic: Flickr user iHyd, Sanjay

 

Amrutdhara (literal translation: fountain of nectar) is a startup based in Auroville, India that is focused on providing access to affordable, clean drinking water in urban areas.

Currently, the only option for local citizens is prohibitively expensive packaged water. We believe that the best way to provide affordable drinking water is for it to be delivered unpackaged, using technology for quality assurance.

 

Which tool did you use? And why did you choose this one?

Originally we were driven in by our ambition to eradicate bottled water in the city of Pondicherry. Our idea for Amrutdhara was to create a viable alternative to plastic bottled water. After experimenting with prototypes, we had a fairly clear idea of the problem we wanted to solve, and a sense of how to go about it in terms of technology and product.

We sought some input from our mentors, and to advance our thinking they threw up the idea of focusing on the issue of improving accessibility to water rather than reducing plastic waste. This shift in approach meant that we needed to rethink what we were doing and how we were positioning ourselves. This shift signalled a few things for us, in terms of our target markets (not just public spaces, but also schools, hospitals, institutions), design of the product to be more modular, and most importantly the kinds of consumers we were targeting.

We had already pivoted a couple of times, but each time we had built on the work we had done previously. This time we decided to start from first principles. We used the Business Model Canvas as a structured and easy tool to analyse the new idea in clear terms for everyone involved.

 

Akshay and his colleagues prototyping their idea
Akshay and his colleagues prototyping their idea

 

How you used the tool. What worked well, and what was not so great?

I was working remotely at the time in Pune and Mumbai while my partners were in Auroville working on the product and technology. I had a vague idea how the new idea might work, but was finding it hard to express it, so I used the Business Model Canvas to structure my thoughts and present to my partners.

The tool forced me to think through all aspects of the idea that I may not have thought of otherwise. It is very useful to build a holistic overview about how your idea might grow into something bigger. For example, previously we had focused a lot on who the consumer was, what the product was and the resources we would need. The canvas forced me to articulate partners, activities and most importantly the value proposition.

 

What were the results of using this tool for your project?

The tool helped me to structure my idea before communicating it to the rest of the team. We used my notes from the exercise to have several calls/meetings where we then changed our pitch quite dramatically, and also made some subtle changes in the product roadmap and market sizing.

The core of the system is now a modular vending machine that can be installed in various different contexts, providing quality assured unpackaged drinking water to people who need access all while reducing plastic.

You can learn more about our project here.

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