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Driven by sustainability!

By Niranjan Mudholkar,

Added 25 December 2020

Next generation entrepreneurs – Naivedya Agarwal - Founder & CEO Runaya Metsource & Annanya Agarwal - CEO Runaya Refining – explain their journey as well as the importance of technology and innovation in the modern-day resources and manufacturing space to The Machinist.

Runaya is a very poetic name. What does it mean and why this name?
Thank You. Runaya includes the initials of all the members of our family including my mother Ruchira, father Navin, brother Annanya, and mine Naivedya. Coincidentally according to Kabalarian Philosophy the name of Runaya also brings opportunities for success in business and financial accumulation.

What was the vision behind starting Runaya? Do you think you have been able to do justice to that vision in the last three years since its inception?
Runaya was founded in 2017 with the vision to deploy cutting edge technology in the manufacturing space in India. This, coupled with our passion to conserve the environment and create sustainable solutions, made us realise the importance of technology and innovation in the modern-day resources and manufacturing space.
The process used for identification of the businesses was broad criteria around the space in which we wanted to operate (stay in manufacturing) and then we used filters like global alliances and partnerships with the best partners available, broad investment criteria, B-2-B supply chain, value-added manufacturing instead of commodity products, and operations that have the highest standards of sustainability and the environment.
Today, if we look back at the past, the three years that have gone by since the inception of Runaya have been exciting. We are pioneering most of our projects for the first time in the country and therefore playing our small role in the country's call for an "Atmanirbhar Bharat" and to "Make in India". We have already started to make a significant difference in the way in which aluminium dross is managed and have prevented over 20,000 MT of hazardous waste from going into landfills already. The other thing that we are really proud of is that five all our projects have been executed with strict adherence to project timelines, budgets, best in class project execution partners including Tata Projects, Deloitte and KMF from Austria.

What has been the business logic behind having two organisations, Runaya Refining and Runaya Metsource?
Runaya Metsource is into manufacturing of high-technology products of Runaya and is headed by Naivedya, while Runaya Refining, which is helmed by Annanya, is for projects and businesses in the sustainability space being championed by Runaya. The logic was to create a clear distinction between the two main businesses of Runaya and to keep them separate so that there is a focussed approach and individual attention for each.

Tell us something about Runaya's actual operations. How many sites do you have?
We currently have four active project sites with another three are in the pipeline where technology partnerships are being tied up.The 4 projects are:
1. A sustainability and metal recovery project which is currently already operating in Orissa where 100 percent of Aluminium Dross is processed.
2. Runaya's Joint Venture with Minova, which is part of AUD 6 billion Orica group.
3. Recovery of Minor Metal such as Cadmium, Antimony, Bismuth which are found in the mining supply chain of Copper, Silver, Zinc.
4. High technology product of Fiber Reinforced Plastic rods which find applications in the telecommunication industry including Fiber Optic Cables.
Recently, Runaya has also signed a joint venture (JV) pact with Minova, a wholly owned division of Australia-based Orica.

Tell us about this JV and what role will Runaya play in it.
Our joint venture with Minova, which is called Minova-Runaya Private Limited (MRPL), combines Runaya's project and manufacturing capabilities with Minova's technical expertise and global reach, to manufacture and supply ground support products and bring cutting-edge technology solutions to Indian and international mining and infrastructure sectors.
It will manufacture products including rock bolts, resin capsules, injection chemicals, wire mesh and high-quality ventilation systems. These ground support products will deliver transformational enhancements in safety standards across mining, infrastructure and tunnelling applications. We are coming up with a plant in Bhilwara, Rajasthan, and the project is in its final stages with expected commissioning in January 2021.

How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact Runaya and how have you been dealing the same?
The entire situation around the pandemic has truly been unprecedented and something that nobody could have foreseen, affecting not only a particular sector or business but all of humanity at large. The impact for us has been a delay in commissioning of our projects by a few months. We were able to manage our cash flows where we postponed our investment in our JV with Minova and our FRP Business from March to June so that cash was not locked in while we were unable to go ahead with work on our project sites. Both of these are now on track to be commissioned in January instead of being commissioned earlier this year.

How much revenue are you expecting for the ongoing fiscal?
For the current year, the revenue estimates are Rs. 150 crore (operating only part of the year).

What kind of growth targets have you set for the next fiscal and what will be the driving force behind that growth?
The estimates for FY 21/22 are Rs. 425 crore based on current operations and projects that are under execution and commissioning.

As nextgen entrepreneurs, what legacy have you inherited and what is it that you wish to do differently?
The key learnings that we have gotten as a next-gen entrepreneurs are:
a) Importance of having the right team to scale: We have built a key management team with the right mix of industry veterans along with high-quality young talent from the best technical and financial institutes. We have also on-boarded several global experts for each of our businesses enabling us to gain access to the latest developments and innovations globally.
b) The importance of execution and not just having a vision.
c) Key to lock in the right partners and people: A key learning for us as leaders has been the importance of not trying to do everything ourselves and to rely on the right partners to help us achieve our vision. In other words, how it's more important to be the jockey and find the right horse to run the race with rather than trying to run the race by ourselves!
d) Focus on Costs: As a commodity manufacturer, Vedanta has existed in a scenario where the selling price is by and large determined by Global Indices. So, the only way to ensure being profitable was to have a laser-like focus on costs. We have tried to build the same culture at Runaya even though we aren't a commodity manufacturer.
This also leads us to something we have tried to do differently. Having seen this struggle, we identified businesses where we are not only value adding but also providing our customers with an end-to-end solution. This gives us greater flexibility around our pricing strategy and we are able to drive pricing based on the value we have created for our customers rather than work on a cost-plus model.

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