An entrepreneur extraordinaire, Hemalatha Annamalai, is one of the few women who have brought the revolutionary E-bikes model to India through her company Ampere Vehicles. A believer in sustainable lifestyle and disruptive ideology, this founder-cum-CEO is transforming the scene of social mobility by empowering individuals. The products are diversified based on different purposes, starting from a range of E-cycles to E-scooters and E-loaders. Let's know more about the company.
Set up in 2008 in Coimbatore, Ampere was founded to bring Eco-Friendly Mobility into people's lives and make rides affordable. It manufactures electric cycles, scooters, three-wheelers, and specially made vehicles for the differently-abled. Year after year post-commencement, the company keeps improvising and adding feathers to its features. With Ampere Vehicles' different range of products, the main idea is to save energy and go fuel-free. Not only that, the raw materials needed for the manufacture of the vehicles are indigenized and target waste management. Currently, this game-changer enterprise is blooming at a valuation of Rs 115 crore and has tied up with Greaves Cotton, a diversified engineering company.
Hema was born in Salem to a middle-class family and was the fifth among six siblings. Her father (a professor) and mother (a teacher) gave her the necessary qualifications and freedom to pursue her interests. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Coimbatore and started working in Wipro. After working for five years, she shifted to another company Cayenne Software where she worked as a Business Development Manager. This motivated her to complete her Masters which she did from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. There was no looking back after that.
Her Entrepreneurial Journey
"As an entrepreneur, you work out solutions." - Les Wexner.
During her stint at Wipro, she knew she was a people person, and a desk job was not for her. As BDM at Cayenne Software, she interacted with people from different countries and discovered the world of possibilities. Deciding to act on her entrepreneurial instinct, Hema started an HR consulting firm, Uni Connect, in Singapore to combat talent acquisition problems. After handling the organizational operations of the firm, Hema went on to start her next venture Ampere Vehicles Pvt Ltd, with her husband in 2008. She has co-founded three more companies that worked around software tools, ticketing services, and technology training services.
The Success of Ampere Vehicles
It wasn't easy for her company Ampere Vehicles, to make its mark in the market.; persistence and innovative marketing strategy gave it its identity. In June 2007, when her husband Bala Pachyappa went to an automotive conference in Japan that the idea of manufacturing electric vehicles spurred in them. There he listened to giants speak about how internal combustion engines were slowly going to die in a few years, and that gave them their niche to explore. Soon after immense research and many trips to South Indian states, they both founded Ampere Vehicles, and thus, the company's journey began.
In the first six months of incorporation, there was only a sale of 69 e- vehicles. Gradually when the company custom-made vehicles reflecting the needs of the disabled and supplied 1200 scooters to the Tamil Nadu government, it started getting attention. Slowly the company got investors and an excellent R&D team to expand its clientele. Among its investors like Forum Synergies and IMI investments., the major turning point for the brand came when Mr. Ratan Tata made his first automobile investment here.
The Electric Lady
There is more to the charismatic personality of Hemalatha. She leads by passion and never gives up. Her enterprise, being backed by two big leaguers, Mr. Ratan Tata and Kris Gopalakrishnan(Infosys co-founder), is only the beginning of her vision; she wishes to build the Tesla Motors of India. Her focus has been on brand building and marketing rather than investing. The company has dealt with its share of obstacles and now relies on the indigenous source than imported materials.
Hemalatha has been leading her enterprise to bring a revolution in personal mobility with sustainability and make a difference by empowering women and thrashing gender inequality. About 30% of her workforce constitutes women, and Trisul (the electric three-wheeler developed by Ampere Vehicles) was primarily built for the needs of women mill workers of Tamil Nadu. Selling over 22000 vehicles every year, Ampere Vehicles has enhanced people's livelihood in villages and towns while creating a clean better future.
In 2010, Hemalatha won the Best Product Design Award and received the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu award in the manufacturing sector. In 2017, she also received the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award conferred by the Rotary Club of Madras East.
A Message to Budding Entrepreneurs
Hemalatha Annamalai has played the role of a professional, entrepreneur, wife, mother, motivator, and social worker, and she never had it easy. But her commitment to making a difference in people's lives through Ampere Vehicles and her enthusiasm brought her sweet success. She believes in facing her challenges head-on and conquering them with proper preparation. Her journey shows how women entrepreneurs know better to handle challenges gracefully.
Her message to budding entrepreneurs is primarily threefold. She advocates entrepreneurship to people who do it not just because it's the trend but soak into its idea with constant evaluation and preparation. According to her, a budding entrepreneur must be:
1. Systematic. Identifying the problem, converting the solution to a viable business plan.
2. Moving. The idea isn't enough. You must find a mentor who can guide you to create your niche and keep moving.
3. Keeping it Original. The only thing that will keep you going is your authenticity and passion. If you do not have an original business plan, you will get distracted by others' views.
So, with the three-take advice from one of the powerful women in business, are you ready to take the plunge?
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