Gaining from a hobby
Sujata Devadas October 01 2020
Urban ‘metropolitan’ lifestyle, better financial prospect … Togi Mathew Chirayil accepted his cousin’s invitation to start work in his Bangalore based private company in 1995, after completing a diploma in automobile engineering at Kottayam District, Kerala.
Work experience at this company that supplied and installed fully imported Italian LPG and CNG conversion kits on a large scale, training garage mechanics to become conversant with the kits’ installation and utility was a good start.
But, at work and while doing his diploma, Togi's mind just itched to make things himself. In 2011, things worked in that direction when the Italian company outsourced production to this Bangalore company to manufacture the full kit locally. Cost of production dived from €35 to €12.5. They further expanded business, manufacturing and selling Solenoid valves for automobiles, huge industrial dishwashers and washing machines.
Sandhya encouraged her husband Togi to quit his job in 2017 and make things with his free time - to begin his own simple informal commercial set up and sell the things he makes.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) has documented how India’s informal economy accounts for more than 80 per cent of non-agricultural employment largely due to the growing use of contract labour and outsourcing of production, more or less the fabric of the indian economy.
Fun times, Togi and his kids
Opting for the ‘informal’ economic sector, Togi makes no grand claims but guarantees his products’ efficacy and durability at a lower price. “Satisfaction comes from the ideal combination of relaxing to pursue a hobby and make a reasonable profit,” he says.
Incidents reveal Togi’s expertise in sourcing components conforming to manufacturers’ specifications, thoroughly inspecting them before supplying them to clients: a Middle Eastern customer gave a model of stainless steel filter used in heavy transport vehicles to their auto mobile spare parts supplier in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, enticing them to manufacture such a product at a competitive price.
This foreign client’s huge financial gain and cool satisfaction resulted directly from Togi’s acumen as an intermediary to acquire sturdy components congruent with the manufacturer’s technical specifications. Trained personnel assembled these parts into lifelong lasting stainless steel air filters for sale. These stainless steel air filters that do not need replacement proved a far better alternative to paper air filters that require frequent change.
Production line and the stainless steel filter
Assisting homes and automobiles …
Togi is not guided by any social cause or mission. His gizmos are easy practical solutions. Everything from assembling a lithium battery after buying individual cells to making a cooking gas cylinder safety device were among his first successes. Then he made an expansive easy-to-use GPS vehicle tracking system at a cost lesser than those already sold in the market.
Albert Einstein, they say, called creativity as 'intelligence having fun'. Togi derives profits from practical application of physicists’ theories. His small multifunctional GPS vehicle tracking instrument is connected to the vehicle with 4 wires. It sends the automobile’s speed, it’s motoring history, whether the vehicle is idle, its location with a +/-5 metres error margin, to the associated wireless app installed on the phone. The app can track many cars, buses, trucks, whole fleets. From the phone, the app can stop the vehicle’s engine once it slows down to 20 kms/hour and prevent it from starting.
A veritable bonus against theft, drunken driving, speeding or to monitor fleet operators, it equips vehicle owners with a better hold on their children and family members who take the car out ‘for a spin’, then decide to make a ‘real carefree jolly day’ of it. The phone user’s power to bring the vehicle to an abrupt halt with a few clicks on their phone has brought the ‘don't care’ attitude closer to sobriety.
Increasing car thefts in Kerala have brought plenty of requests for this GPS tracking device sold at a lesser price. The price advantage of a small inexpensive tracking system that can easily be fitted into an automobile by a local mechanic has opened up promising export opportunities. It is highly attractive to transport companies operating whole fleets of vehicle - it enables them to give a link to all travellers boarding their bus to let them know when the bus arrives at a particular boarding location.
Helping street cart vendors
With 8 hours backup, his inexpensive small tube light has proved a great relief to Indian street cart vendors. These vendors earn irregular, variable income that makes electric power unaffordable, just out of the question. They work without it. But this small tube light with a rechargeable lithium battery can be stuck on any metal surface on their street cart. “I give them the rechargeable lithium battery along with the tube light. I also give a small 3 Watt solar panel with which this tube light can be charged in 5 hours.” It has proved mighty useful not just for street vendors but in any area not covered by power supply.
Saving wildlife from drastic human action
Routine animal - human conflict happens when wild animals rampage through farmed areas at night. Cultivators have resorted to drastic shock fencing and dynamites to stop animals from damaging crops so far. In (location?), they recently found that lights deter animals from entering an area. So Togi now supplies inexpensive solar lights along with 12.4 Volts, 18 amps lithium battery that runs for 11 hours - a battery that can be recharged 2000 times and has a 5 years battery life span. Maintenance free operation is this solar lights’ clear advantage.
Rather than sending dry waste to landfills daily, many old age homes, day care centres, nurseries and orphanages use Togi’s 4 feet high 16 inch diameter incinerator to dispose it off on their own grounds. Covid 19 resulted in his producing a automatic hands-free hygienic sanitiser or soap dispenser.
Comfort in the alternate
International umbrella organisations fret about huge informal economic sectors that fall outside their leverage. Yet, there are clear examples of upward economic mobility among people from humble backgrounds that use education far removed from highly ranked ‘medicine’ and ‘engineering’ courses.
They thrive by engaging their time, inventiveness and intellect to address, in this particular case, safety, satisfaction and harmony. With no intense ambition to be a multi-national corporate celebrity, here is hidden potential.
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