Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019
Industry, Manufacturing & Energy
“I’ve always had a dream to be an entrepreneur, to start something on my own that will make a real world impact.”
Ever since his childhood, Dhruv Khanna’s dream of becoming an entrepreneur followed him through his high school and mechanical engineering days. Recalling back, “there were numerous times I discussed with my friends if we can start this or that, or just something!”. A group of them even started a pet food company after completing their Bachelor Degree, but due to regulation issues, the business halted after a short while.
“We were all busy with our lives, planning what to do next with our careers. This was just a part-time thing for everyone. I always had it in my mind to start something, but I did not have a clear idea, nor the skillset to do what I wanted to do.”
Upon coming across the different modules that are taught in MSc TIP at NTU – the process, necessary steps to start a company, what to take note of, how to handle the accounts and finances, hands-on exposure to different companies, and so on – Dhruv decided to relocate to Singapore for that period to equip himself with the necessary skills for his dream. Besides the programme itself, he mentioned that he appreciated the teaching culture in Singapore, being able to meet people from different countries and customs, and also learning to be independent in a foreign place and overcoming the initial culture shock.
“There was nothing I did not like. I really liked everything – the campus, the education, the teaching, and also the initial Outward Bound School that we had during orientation, to bond and get to know our course mates better”, Dhruv happily recounts.
Being immersed in an experiential learning environment allowed him to hear first-hand stories from entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Dhruv commented on how he appreciated the entrepreneurs’ transparency during their company visits, as they shared both the victories and hardships that they can expect (or prevent) from this journey, and how to overcome them!
Besides the professional network he managed to build, Dhruv managed to find likeminded and genuine friends in the MSc TIP who he still keeps in regular contact with till date. “I’m actually getting married next month, and will be expecting 7-8 guests from Singapore, from my batch!”
Singapore and NTU will always hold a special place in Dhruv’s heart, as it was where his dream of being a purposeful entrepreneur slowly came into fruition. Before starting Triton Foodworks, he co-founded a software company based out of Singapore, where they had a proper business sponsor and capital. “Although I was working and enjoying what I started up, I wasn’t really feeling the connection. I felt that I was not making a real-world impact,” Dhruv lamented.
While catching up with his childhood friend, Ullas Samrat, who was in India, both of them discussed how meaningful it would be to start a business together. A business that would fill a gap in society, fulfil a need, and made sense to them. Due to his ailing mother, Ullas was already actively looking for new, clean and sustainable ways to farm, and they figured that hydroponic farming would be something that connected them both to a business idea.
“I came to know Comcrop during my time in Singapore, a sustainable farming business using hydroponics technology. So for 3 months, I would spend some time there before going home, doing more in-depth research on hydroponics and was convinced that this technology really works.”
After relocating back in India to start Triton Foodworks with Ullas and 3 other guys, they went through a tumultuous time with the authorities regarding their farm. In the face of different obstacles, two of their co-founders eventually left the company. However, they persisted and held on to their beliefs in filling the agriculture gap in their country. Triton Foodworks has been running for a good 4-5 years in India, achieving clean growing, accountable farming and reliable supply of premium quality, pesticide free, hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables.
“Failures are really necessary to ensure success. If you ask me right now, 4 years back when I started the company, my journey wouldn’t be so exciting, and I wouldn’t have actually learnt anything if I didn’t go through all those failures. Persistence is the key factor which can make you successful. I can’t say that I am successful right now, but I am still learning. It will always be a constant learning process”
For Dhruv, he emphasises the importance of constantly adapting to changes in the world. The world is moving at a very fast pace and “part of the journey requires you to move forward and adapt everyday if necessary”. And to all the prospective entrepreneurs and students, he also believes that it is important to always find a purpose in what you want to create and start, because that will anchor you through your victories and failures in your journey.
It is important to always find a purpose in what you want to create and start, because that will anchor you through your victories and failures in your journey.
Dhruv Khanna graduated with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He is the Co-Founder of Triton Foodworks, a leading producer of premium quality, pesticide free, hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables. Founded in 2014, Triton Foodworks has built and operates over 150,000 sq. ft. of greenhouses across India and is now a leader in the hydroponics industry in India. He and his co-founder, Ullas Samrat are named in The 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 Asia – Industry, Manufacturing & Energy list!