Lighthouse Management has a novel solution to keep your car litter-free
May 06 2013, 19:44 | By Entrepreneur
By Shruti Chakraborty
A chocolate wrapper tucked into the glass-holder of your car, a collection of toll tickets behind the steering wheel, an empty packet of chips on the backseat that your children left behind and a used wet wipe that you did not want to throw on the street. Does this paint a familiar picture? It may not be your car, but you have probably seen one that looks quite like this. Of course it collects in the car because you are not one of those who litter streets, and in all probability judge those who do.
Nupur Rajvanshi, 40, was a keen traveler to several countries with her husband Anshul, 44, while he was in the Merchant Navy and constantly faced a stark reality-streets overseas were cleaner than in India. A few years later, the couple designed a product they believed could resolve this glaring problem and set up Lighthouse Management Pvt. Ltd in Mumbai.
A bin for a car
From December 2010 till August 2011, the couple finalized designs of a car bin, suitable for both wet- and dry garbage generated in the car and filed a patent for the concept.
The result has been four models of car bins-two made from hard plastic and the others made with cloth, which is lined with waterproof material inside. The firm also provides customers with garbage bags to line these car bins. Affordably priced, three models are priced at Rs. 399 while the plastic model costs Rs. 499 as it is bigger in size. Each bin comes with a strap attached which can be put around the co-driver's seat with the help of a hook attached to the bin. "We did some market research to find out what would be convenient before we launched the product," explains Anshul.
"The product is gaining popularity not only because the concept makes sense, but also because it is an eco-friendly initiative that companies encourage as it counts towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives," informs Anshul.
Toyota dealer Lakozy Toyota in Mumbai bought the product in bulk and distributed it to their customers. Ambarish Patil, General Manager(Services) at Lakozy Toyota says that this was part of a campaign for cleaner roads they ran in mid-2012, and received good response from customers when it was distributed free. However, while some customers suggested they sell these bins at their outlets, the company is still not sure it would have enough takers.
Co-branding is a service that Lighthouse has been offering Lakozy Toyota and now other companies too. The car bin carries the logo for both-the specific company and Lighthouse. For Tata Motors, one the first big customers Lighthouse secured, the startup manufactures and brands bins with the Tata Motors logo on it. Tata Motors then sells this as an original accessory. Rajiv Madhavan, Deputy General Manager (Accessories) at Tata Motors met the couple about three years ago, when they started serious work on their business. Madhavan says the product has come a long way and Tata Motors began dealing with them about two and a half years ago. Madhavan informs that the bins were displayed by Tata Motors at the Auto Expo 2012 held in January in New Delhi.
Besides selling through car showrooms and manufacturers, the founders have reached out to car accessory portals online but are yet to finalize a sales partnership. Alongside, they have directly established a network of distributors, one each in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, Delhi and Maharashtra.
One of their biggest challenges has been the lack of visibility for the product, since limited access to finance hampered their plans to aggressively market it. "Another challenge that comes up," Madhavan explains, "is that people are often willing to spend Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 on a music system for their car but do not spend a few hundred rupees on an accessory like this. They just do not give it a thought."
Manufacturing is currently undertaken at a facility in Mumbai and they produce 1,000 pieces of plastic bins and 500 fabric ones per day. "The facility is not ours, but the moulds are. Being a startup, we need to focus on marketing and therefore have not invested in setting up our own manufacturing unit," explains Rajvanshi. The founders are members of the Mumbai chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a non-profit organization that fosters entrepreneurship globally, and have received mentoring from them.
Rajvanshi's passion for the concept is apparent. She says it can also be used in trains where people stash trash under seats or throw it on the tracks. In fact, its scope can be extended to other modes of transport like auto-rickshaws, buses and trucks as well.
Launch date: August 2011
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