Interview with Mr. Srinivas Bellamkonda, CEO of RealMilk
Mr. Srinivas, a software engineer but a farmer at heart, portrays how pursuing his real passion made him become a successful businessman.
“Follow your passion; be prepared to work hard, and sacrifice, and above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.” Keeping this in mind, he drove himself to the right path in the right way.
Interviewer: Tell us something about yourself and the company and how did you come up with such an idea.
Mr. Srinivas: My name is Srinivas Bellamkonda and by profession I am a software engineer but a farmer at heart. I have about 17 years of experience in IT field and have spent 14 years of that in different countries which includes the U.S, Singapore, Brazil and Canada. Though I have been to different countries but I am still passionate about agriculture. And I have spent one-fourth of my earnings on agriculture be it cultivating the land or feeding the cattle. And I have reached where I wanted to be in my profession; like I was working with MNCs and earning dollars and I was so happy and though I was happy professionally but I was not happy personally. Although I have spent a huge amount on agriculture but I got no returns for 5 years. One fine day, in 2014, when I came back to India for a visit I asked my brother where the fault prevails and why there are no returns then I found that the conditions were so bad. Then I found some like-minded people and farmers, through surveys, who agreed to work on it and invested a little more for its improvement. About 60% of the milk is adulterated in India which contains so many harmful chemicals. When the result of survey came out, I had to choose between my passion and my well paid job in US. After analyzing the problem, I realized that if I’ll solve my problem, I’ll be able to solve the problem for millions of people. Once I came back, we built an excellent technology application called Real Milk.
Interviewer: How does your company serve farmers and consumers?
Mr. Srinivas: The interested farmers install the application and create a profile and mention their details and the number of animals they own and how many liters of milk they are able to obtain. Then our technical team would approach them and train them for 5 days and educate them about the welfare of animals in order to be happy and produce healthy milk and till 15 days they’ll monitor the farmer. On the 20th day they will be certified as real milk producer, provided that theyfollow all the instructions. The benefits a real milk producer gets are: 1.75-2 times the price of milk from day 1, the cow or buffalo will deliver cattle every 13 months because of proper health support provided and the mortality rate would also reduce because of the same. So, as real milk certified producer, the farmer would get 250% benefit.A farmer needs to produce at least 20liters to get into the system.
As a consumer, the consumption rate for domestic purpose is really high as compared to the production rate. Everyone wants pure, clean, fresh milk and as they register with us they are informed about the importance of milk and what efforts it takes to produce it. But the consumer is not going to pay 2 times the price; he would pay the normal price that he has been paying for normal adulterated milk. A consumer also has access to the information about what was fed to the animal and what time it was milked. The milk is delivered within 4 hours, which is the period it is fresh, so that the consumers can boil it and enjoy and they need not store it.
Interviewer: How is your system different from the regular milkmen?
Mr. Srinivas: There are no middlemen in our system, so the amount doubles as it reaches the farmer. The system has a scientific mapping for finding the nearest farmer to the consumer at a distance of not more than 10 kms.
The beauty of this system is that there are 2 new jobs generated in India per every 500 liters of milk produced; one white-collar job and one blue-collar job. Those jobs include milk delivery, training farmers, veterinary care, vigilance, animal feed aggregation, software, research and more. We are not the brokers; it is a direct relationship between consumers and farmers.
The whole system is transparent and we provide full guarantee of the quality of the milk.
RealMilk is the milk that is straight from the nearby certified farmers, no middlemen and no impurities along the path. Our “KNOW YOUR FARMER” model tries to eliminate most of the rigid layers between consumer and the farmer. This implies that both consumer and the farmer get what they truly deserve.
RealMilk has all the goodness of essential nutrients, in their purest form that Mother Nature can give to humans. Our milk is as good as having your own cow at home.
The company strives to solve some of the most intriguing problems in dairy/agriculture industry which includes...
Poor animal care
High cost of feed
Interviewer: How has your experience with the company been overall?
Mr. Srinivas: In January, 2017 we launched officially-the records gotinto the system and all such activities. Since January, the last 5 months have been excellent and we have been able to achieve our targets. And it’s time for more ambitious work; we are looking towardsexpanding our services across various states in India.
Although I am a very happy software engineer but a farmer at heart, it always bothered me what technology could do to agriculture and the only need is for bridging the gap.
Many NRIs and software engineers have called up and appreciated our system. That is what I find lovely. Also there are many entrepreneurs (interested in dairy related business) being integrated/grown through our system.
Interviewer: What has motivated you along your journey?
Mr. Srinivas: I love farming, I love animals. Inspite of facing so many losses, I never compromised with the treatment of animals. I met thousands of farmers who were in miserable conditions and were lying off their lives to take care of animals to keep them healthy. Then I realized that there is a way to generate money for the farmers so that they are able to take care of the animals properly. My motivation has always been the need to change. Why can’t I change something which is in my hands? Also I want to take care of the farmers, animals and demographic; these are the three motivational aspects that have kept me going.
After our entry in the market, the farmers have seen huge change in their income levels and are very satisfied working with us. But that is not the end; in another 13-14 months when they’ll have another 50 calves their incomes would boom to an even higher level. The farmers are pretty satisfied with half the results, I’m sure once they are able to witness the complete result they’ll be full-heartedly contented.
Interviewer: What has your experience been as an agro based technology driven company?
Mr. Srinivas: I belong to an agricultural family and I have good knowledge about animals and thatgood to be in this business. And I used to spend my weekends in the farms and that’s how I’ve learned. That’s because neither me nor my employees feel stressed out because what we are doing is our passion.
And we have been getting blessings from all over the country. Many would call and ask to initiate to help and farmers would ask when we are expanding in their areas. The consumers also have informed us about the good effects of our milk quality. And I’m very happy to see such good things happen around me and that I have been successful to bring about a change and fulfill my dreams as well as of those poor farmers.
Interviewer: What was the toughest decision you made?
Mr. Srinivas: Now people are coming forward to fund, when we are already making revenues but it was not the case in our early stage. We are generating 5rs. /liter but it costs us 6-7rs. /liter but that was the problem in the beginning. If we increase the volume then we would be able to cover up the expenses. But it is not a money making system so it’s okay to bear the cost. But actually the toughest decision was to invest my power and money. Now when many people are willing to buy my company, so I am delighted. But I want it to be self-sustainable system. And initially I didn’t know that people would want to fund in for the system and I had to put in around 75% of hard earned money of 17 years and taking a big risk but now I am very satisfied and feel that I took the right decision.
When I developed this system, it was mainly for B2B types. The farmer producing 20 liters and the hotels, dairy shops consuming 25 liters. But there was a lot of pressure from the normal population and they convinced me to provide them milk and I was willing to marketmy brand and expand. The farmers also cooperated with us quite well and I was a little thrilled to see that.
My only wish is to expand and make it a PAN India initiative so that the awareness about our company spreads all over the country.
Interviewer: What would your advice be to budding entrepreneurs?
Mr. Srinivas: If you are starting a business with intention to con the consumers or to just make easy money then that is wrong. You should be knowledgeable. It is easy to become an entrepreneur provided you have done enough market research and make sure you are addressing a problem faced by atleast 10 people within 1 km. Try to find the problems and re-evaluate or adjust the human error. Also a thorough analysis is needed about the field and the problem and do a proper market research and be knowledgeable enough and don’t hesitate to make mistakes. But make sure to accept it and then correct it.
Before going to the solution, make sure that you understand the problem thoroughly and be accurate in understanding the scenarios.
Interviewer: how has becoming an entrepreneur made you a different person?
Mr. Srinivas: It’s very tough. As an employee, you can be a little irresponsible but as an entrepreneur you have no way out. Being an employee, if I don’t work, only one man’s power is being wasted. On the other hand , as an entrepreneur if I don’t work then 10-15 people are waiting for the input and because of lack of my sincerity the work power of 10-15 people is being wasted. I need to be very punctual and dedicated. As an employee, I had a lot of time to spend with my family and sleep on time but now as soon as I get up I have to check mails and reply and work harder every day.