Published: 27th December 2018
This 13-year-old's logistics start-up employs over 300 dabbawallahs in Mumbai
His start-up offers a simple, convenient and rudimentary logistics option, that enables customers to send and receive parcels on time
Most 13-year-olds, particularly those from affluent families, probably spend a good chunk of their time mapping out an amalgamation of wishful fancies and exaggerated visions — ranging from owning the latest Ferrari to circumnavigating the globe. Little do they realise or ponder over, the difficulties and hardships of those less fortunate than themselves.
This is not to say that the generous folks do not exist; they do, albeit scattered far and few between. But this isn't the story of a teenager who simply offers monetary support to one individual — this is the inspiring journey of 13-year-old Mumbaikar, Tilak Mehta, who has successfully established his own company (yes, an actual company, not the Lego one) that specialises in catering to the logistical needs of the residents of Mumbai, whilst simultaneously bolstering the earnings of the 300 or so 'dabbawalas' who have climbed aboard the entrepreneurial express.
Knighted: Tilak was facilitated at the Indian Maritime Awards recently for his outstanding work on logistics
Tilak, a Class VIII student of the Garodia International Centre for Learning Mumbai (GICLM), and the founder of Papers N Parcels has recently won the India Maritime Award in the "Youngest Entrepreneur in the Logistics Sector" category. The ceremony constituted the third edition of the event and knighted Tilak as one of the youngest entrepreneurs India has produced. The Indian Maritime Awards are handed out for exceptional contributions towards the field of shipping and logistics.
As one might expect, the initial undertaking involved a balanced concoction of determination, monetary injection and foresight. “I got a lot of help from my father who works in the same field and some of the funding required for my startup was also given by his company — Rushabh Sealink Pvt Ltd. I worked hard to understand how the supply-chain model would work, as having an idea and putting it to practical use are two different things, but learning through trial and error was a challenging yet valuable experience for me. My first endeavour was to get onboard the swift and enterprising ‘dabbawalas’ to support my idea and join my venture to make it happen,” says Tilak.
His startup offers a simple, convenient and rudimentary logistics option, that enables customers to send and receive parcels on time. The inspiration for his invention stemmed from two fronts — the financial one, in which the delivery costs were sometimes unreasonably high, and the ETA one, in which the parcels themselves were delayed by several days due to backlogs within the company. With Papers N Parcels, however, customers can merely sign up and log in using the in-house app, and request their packages to be delivered via the dabbawalas! The damage? A mere Rs 40, compared to the hundreds one would normally have to shell out.
Tilak juggles academics and his startup, but hehe is managing just fine with a little help from others, “I mostly manage my startup during the weekends but I have hired an experienced professional to carry out the day to day operations. As for feeling stressed, I don’t really feel stressed since both my teachers at school and parents at home are very supportive of what I am doing.”
“My future goal is to grow my company to reach Pan-India levels over time and currently we are also looking at raising more funds from different avenues,” he says.
As a tribute to his achievements at such a young age, Tilak was part of an entrepreneurial panel which was interviewed by renowned philanthropist Ronnie Screwvala. “It was an enlightening experience for me where I got to learn a lot and I am sure that in the future I shall be able to imbibe the same learning into my work as well,” remarks Tilak proudly.
The company might still be in its infancy, at literally 6 months old, but its future appears exceptionally bright. “We currently carry out around 1200 deliveries a day; our aim is to project this to about 1 lakh deliveries per day and provide gainful employment for roughly 2000 individuals by the end of 2019,” concludes Tilak. Now, this right here is a man with a plan!