The first time I boarded a flight was from Chennai to Port Blair. While I was nervous about flying thousands of feet above the Earth with nothing but aluminium wings to balance us, I remember enjoying the experience. Since then, I’ve taken multiple flights and each of them has been chiselled in my memory. But, I’ve never understood aeronautics, aerospace technology or other big terms like that.
So, when I bumped into Kaushik Prashanth, the founder/CEO of Vidwan Aeronautics, an aerospace startup, I didn’t know what to make of him or his company. So he sat me down and simplified it. Aerospace is largely similar to automobiles and at the same time, vastly different. While manufacturing a car, various components are made and assembled together by one company. Whereas in aerospace, the numerous components are manufactured individually and finally assembled together by an airplane company (you’ve all heard of Boeing and Airbus!).
While all of this is informative, what’s interesting is how Kaushik ventured into the aerospace world. He tells me that Vidwan Aeronautics wasn’t something that happened overnight; there were so many ups and downs, successes and failures, and tonnes of educational experiences that have shaped his journey to establish Vidwan.
“It’s never dead-end, it’s always a curve”
The third year of his engineering was his first encounter with failure, not just in studies, but Kaushik also failed his first business venture. Not the kind to give up, he channelled all his energy into studies to top three subjects in his final year in dramatic and filmy style. “It wasn’t a dead-end, but a curve,” Kaushik tells me as he recalls his college days.
Once done with engineering, Kaushik had his first close brush with aerospace when he began his next journey at the Indian Institute of Science. Here he met his Guru, Dr Rajan at the aerospace department. The three years at IISc moulded Kaushik’s ideology about aerospace, technology, engineering, and more importantly, about life. “My professor always told me that you should fail your first venture. Only then will this learning curve help you grow in life,” he says.
A few years later, Kaushik graduated from BITS Pilani with a Master’s Degree in hand. At this time, opportunities were knocking at his door. One such opportunity was to head to Japan and work closely with aerospace engines. He immediately knew it was Destiny calling; he left behind his one-month-old son and headed to Japan to begin a new learning experience. As difficult as this decision was, he knew he did the right thing.
“The Japanese taught me dedication, perseverance, and the importance of planning”
“I learnt a lot in Japan,” Kaushik tells me. “Their dedication and passion for work is something that’s embedded in me now.” After working in Japan for a few years, he packed his bags and headed back home. He had gained some life-lessons and experiences and it was time to do something that he always wanted to do. And so, Vidwan was established in 2017 and it has changed Kaushik’s life ever since.
It’s been two-and-a-half years since Vidwan kickstarted. But it’s been a hard struggle for Kaushik. The challenges he faced are numerous; be it issues with his partner, problems with bank loans and finance, his work-life balance, the list goes on. But his persistence and dedication finally began bearing fruits. Vidwan today delivers end-to-end aero component manufacturing solutions to the international market.
What’s more, Kaushik has ensured that his aerospace company is eco-friendly. The machines used at Vidwan reuse 98% of the wastes within. “We don’t dump or let out toxins from our Vidwan. It’s all reused.” But more importantly, Vidwan is a completely system-driven company, where they have their own ERP software. This means that you don’t need manual intervention and it removes the need for paper. A huge plus point when it comes to the environmental factor.
“Nature will show you the way!”
While the journey hasn’t been an easy one, Kaushik is seeing the fruits of his hard labour after facing challenges upon challenges. For all budding entrepreneurs, Kaushik says that Nature will show you the way and guide you. “It’s alright to fail, but you must have the courage to get back on your feet and not give up. At the same time, you should know when to press the exit button.”
Okay, now what was this ‘exit button’, I asked. “Everything in this world has an expiry date and so does any venture we establish. As an entrepreneur, you should know when to press that exit button.” He advises that every challenge can be converted to an opportunity.
So what about VidwanAeronautics and it’s future? Kaushik says Vidwan will further expand in the aerospace industry by introducing an integrated model segment. Vidwan will also be venturing into developing drones as well. But in the end, Kaushik says he will continue enhancing Vidwan’s service and quality to make it a national product playing in the international field.