I come from a simple, middle class family. My father is a professor and my mother is a teacher. I am number five out of six siblings. I was born in Salem, grew up and did my schooling in Chennai and completed my Engg in computer science from GCT Coimbatore. I worked at Wipro Bangalore for many years, did my MBA in international marketing from RMIT in Australia after leaving Wipro and then became an entrepreneur at the age of 27.
Tell us about the company Ampere Vehicles
Ampere was set up to bring about affordable transport alternatives through battery operated cycles and scooters for rural and semi-urban markets. We wanted to empower people and businesses in the middle class segments to have a vehicle that would give them cost savings, convenience and freedom.
What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?
I thought that if China could consume 35 million electric vehicles in a year, so could India. This was the starting point to set up Ampere.
I wanted freedom to do my own thing, hence I became an entrepreneur. But I later realised that even though entrepreneurship gave me freedom, it called for more discipline and a more systematic way of going deeper into the goals without taking yourself, your time, your family and network for granted.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The biggest challenge has been talent acquisition, team building and winning the hearts of my team who trust me as their mentor and leader.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Actually nothing honestly! We still have a long way to go in putting Coimbatore on the map as an electric vehicle city. We want Coimbatore to be a role model city for electric vehicles
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration have been all my mentors (spiritual, professional and personal) and specifically Mr Ratan Tata for his timely support, investment and endorsement, and our investor Forum Synergies, Bangalore for their unconditional support to enable entreprenuers like me. Their combined trust and confidence in my venture and giving me time when I needed it has inspired me a lot and helped me to stay focussed on achieving my goals.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
There is nothing called work-life balance in my view. If you enjoy what you do, both work life and home life cannot be separated.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Identify mentors early. Integrate yoga and meditation into your lifestyle. Just keep moving with your goals. Family, health, spirituality and money, if focussed in the same order, results in enormous strength from within to execute your vision.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
As a founding charter member of TiE Coimbatore chapter, TIE helped me to understand the power of connections and made me ready, able and willing always.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Every citizen of India must consciously move to owning an electric vehicle for short distance commuting and help save oil imports for our country. This is a collective responsibility.
What does the future hold for you?
I am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing now, so nothing specific. I plan to keep going without any expectations. Life or success is the only journey. I want to do my best and leave the rest to the Divine.
About Hemalatha Annamalai
Hema is the founder and CEO of Ampere Vehicles- a company spear heading India’s E-bike revolution. Ampere’s products range from E-cycles to E-scooters, E-trolleys for carrying load, and special purpose vehicles for waste management and the differently-abled. Ampere has carved a niche for itself as an innovative technology creator in the nascent Indian Electric Vehicle Industry, contributing to environmental sustainability.
Ampere’s focus on rural markets has brought about far-reaching social transformation by empowering individuals to commute at a very low cost. Hema believes that personal mobility is a basic need on a par with food, clothing and shelter that defines the dignity of an individual.
Ampere’s contribution to the environment has fetched the following awards:
- Best Product Design for disabled by the State Commission for Differently Abled in Tamil Nadu for 2010
- Best SME company awarded by Coimbatore Management Association for 2011
- Best Eco-Friendly company contributing to Environment by Lead India 2020, a national movement initiated by former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for 2012
- Best Entrepreneur – Sadhana Award for the year 2012 by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Coimbatore
- A private equity infusion investment in Ampere India from Forum Synergies – India and IMI Investments – Spain in July 2013
- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – The Hindu-Business Line Southern Region Emerging Entrepreneur Award for the year 2014
A serial entrepreneur, Hema has spent the last 15 years creating and driving entrepreneurial ventures. Her ventures have been in varied industries, spanning professional services, electronics, travel and automobiles. Hema holds an MBA from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia and a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Government College of Technology, Coimbatore.