Vision Aqua is a company that is into designing customised aquatic scapes with natural elements. Samarth Mehta is the Chief Operating Officer at Vision Aqua and the company has seen growth under his leadership. Mehta has represented the company in the International Aquarium Congress 2016 in Vancouver, Canada. While talking to BE’s Varsha Singh, he emphasised on the importance of conservation of the environment. His company has also initiated a programme that is
targeted at educating the community on using smart micro habitats to produce and consume healthy organic herbs.
Q. How do you promote green economics?
A. We, at Vision Aqua, work as a team of individuals who are passionate about the environment and want to encourage others to enjoy and protect it. In today’s concrete jungle, our children are glued to mobile phones and video games, with little or no exposure to nature and its beauty. We educate people on the benefits of adding aquariums and nature biotopes to their décor. We help them understand that it could be their first step in helping to control vector-borne diseases and rising pollution levels. We are strong proponents of home agro, where individuals can grow fresh organic herbs and vegetables in the comfort of their home and add home grown fresh agricultural produce to their diet. Vision Aqua is about making nature a part of our daily life.
Q. How is the advanced aquarium market doing?
A. Experts estimate the aquarium market size in India to be around `300 crore. It is expected to grow to `1200 crorein the next 10 years. Currently, this market is owned by hobbyists and we need to broaden the appeal of aquariums. We need to get people to develop an interest in aquatic scapes.
Q. Who are your major clients?
A. Our clients include hobbyists across various age groups and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) looking for unique customised solutions. We also work with many residential, commercial, and hospitality projects. Some of our clients include the Airports Authority of India (AAI), the Border Security Forces (BSF), the PS Group, SIPL Group, CISF, Hotel Shoolin Grand, Base Group Hotels, Dover Enclave, and Magma House Kolkata.
Q. What is your company’s primary focus?
A. The focus of Vision Aqua is committed to conservation and that includes the conservation of the smallest creations of nature. We believe in adding an element of life to any concrete space and lending it a brand new dimension. We believe in a close connection between health and nature. We have a vision of bringing offerings to the market that will help combat vector-borne diseases and indoor pollution while adding a visual delight to the space.
Q. How is the marine aquarium market at present? What is the market for premium customised aquatic spaces?
A. The government has banned the display and sale of 158 species and has made it mandatory to appoint a full-time fisheries expert for monitoring the health of the aquatic organisms in the tank apart from bringing out various rules on tank size, volume of water and stocking density. Such regulations have impacted the growth of the marine aquarium market in the country. However, we have seen a growth in alternative aquatic scapes such as nature aquariums, vivariums, terrariums, indoor/outdoor koi ponds and waterfalls. We expect these segments to show healthy growth.
Q. What difficulties did you face as the import of corals is banned in India?
A. While we are respectful of the government regulations, the ban on corals does pose a problem in enabling us to provide the ideal solution to our marine aquarium customers. The ban on corals along with the ban on 158 other marine aquatic species has not augured well for the marine aquarium market in India.
Q. What struggles did you face while making Vision Aqua a success?
A. It was my faith in the vision and what we set out to make Aqua Vision stand for that made me leave my cushy job at Apple and dedicate myself to this cause. There are mind-sets that one needs to combat. There are certain reservations as to how people perceive aquarium sellers. Then there is the typical gawking reaction that comes with the price tag of advanced aquariums. But today in this era of information explosion, people are getting more conscious about the environment which is making them more open to ideas and information. This change in mind-sets has opened for us the opportunity to educate people regarding the benefits of integrating an aquatic scape with their being. We hope to make them understand that these products go beyond being an amazing décor item and add a certain degree of psychological benefit and exude positive energy.
Q. Tell us something about your association with Biopod?
A. Our association with Biopod has been the biggest and most significant win for Vision Aqua. It all started in September 2016 in Vancouver, Canada, when I was invited to speak on aquariums as a tool for vector-borne disease control. I came across Biopod as a ‘concept under design’ at that time. But the idea struck me and I realised that Biopod is the way forward. It was in perfect correlation with our focus on promoting home agriculture. When the first Biopod was commercialised in 2017, it took us a few months to convince Biopod Systems on the potential of the Indian market. Though Vision Aqua was and is still a start-up firm, Biopod Systems have acknowledged our commitment towards nature and appointed us as the exclusive license holder for Biopod in India. We are committed to make Biopod the most sought for kitchen device and educational tool by 2020. According to a Gro Intelligence research, India is going to be in the red zone in the next 10 years. It is now in the blue zone. We are exporting agricultural produce now but that will change in the next 10 years. Dependence on agricultural imports will rise. In such a case, Biopod can prove to be a viable alternative. Biopod has got certificates from nutritionists. If you grow a tomato within a Biopod, it will survive without refrigeration for 12 days.
Q. What should the government do to boost the business of new entrepreneurs in India?
A. The government has taken a number of initiatives. Starting from the late 1990’s, the government is trying to boost entrepreneurship but it is still in that ideation stage. What I would like the government to look into is the complications that are invariably associated with getting governmental support. There is too much of paperwork that is involved. The vision of the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is brilliant. But what is happening in ground zero is something very different. The government needs to be more involved in implementation of initiatives taken to promote entrepreneurship.
Secondly, if you talk about universities, they define the whole educational pool of the country. I have been called as a speaker at seminars and summits in Presidency University and University of Calcutta. I have requested faculty members to think about the prospect of entrepreneurship being taught as a major subject in these universities. Along with organising these summits and seminars, universities should also have a pool of research funds. These funds can be disbursed to promote entrepreneurship among students with promising business ideas.