She’s eclectic, “electric,” and has the vision to be India’s Elon Musk: Meet Hemalatha Annamalai
Her company manufactures electric cycles, scooters, three-wheelers, and specially designed vehicles for the differently-abled and has already secured backing from two of the biggest Indian corporate honchos, Ratan Tata and Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan.
The idea for Ampere Vehicles came along in 2007, when Hemalatha Annamalai attended a conference in Japan. One of the speakers at the conference spoke about electric vehicles being the future, which got her thinking. Soon after, she decided to pack her bags, come back to India and start her venture. “I was determined. I wanted to leave behind a legacy and I am going to do it through Ampere,” says Annamalai.
Annamalai’s entrepreneurial journey began much earlier, when she started her own HR consulting firm, Uni Connect. She has also worked with her husband in marketing his embedded systems software, and even helped a friend build a travel and ticketing firm.
“We have had setbacks in our earlier businesses, we have failed; this gave me confidence, that despite having no experience in manufacturing, I can pull this off,” says Annamalai, who put in all her life savings to get the company started.
Today, Ampere makes its own motors, chargers and controllers, three of the four major components for making electric vehicles. They have also come up with an intelligent battery chip, which ensures that the battery doesn’t bulge and also has a longer life. The batteries need to be charged for eight hours and vehicles can run 60 km on a full battery.
Ampere has some marquee names backing the company and one could attribute it to Annamalai’s drive. The company has raised about Rs.20 crore from investors so far, and plans to use the funds to scale up operations and venture into other parts of India.
Her biggest challenge today remains managing cash flows, since the order flows are still not predictable, given that the industry is at a nascent stage. Over the past 3-4 years, the company has sold over 20,000 vehicles and has the capacity to manufacture 30,000 vehicles annually.
Dispelling the notion that there is no place for women in manufacturing, she wants Ampere to be a women-centric organization. In fact, currently, one in four Ampere employees is a woman. “I want women to be at the forefront in whatever I do, and that is going to be our differentiator,” says Annamalai.