In Conversation With… Roopesh Rai, Founder, Madhouse to Mudhouse
Can you please help us know your professional background?
I am a farmer at soul, chef by heart and a Brand Engineer for a living. I have worked in hospitality and tourism Industry. In my previous roles I have worked with Intercontinental hotels, Taj group of hotels and Thomas Cook in senior sales and marketing positions, before an event three months post Kedarnath catastrophe (June 2013) that changed my life forever!
Can you please tell us about your venture ‘Madhouse to Mudhouse’?
We started it as a community, a simple WhatsApp group during the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic. While several white collared workers lost their jobs or took a steep cut in salaries due to near total collapse of industries such as Hospitality, Tourism, Aviation, Real Estate, Entertainment, Media and so on. Several blue collared workers who built the hardware and infrastructure of our cities and urban industries, went back to their villages after arduous journey with a possibility of a very few of them returning back to urban areas. Cost & quality of life in cities as well as well as future employment opportunities in cities in post Covid-19 pandemic era is a no brainer. Whereas, rural India with more than half a million pristine villages cut across length and breadth of India with unique opportunities are ready to embrace you.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
- To be able to find my own creative outlets & in the process find desired creative satisfaction
- To be able to bring changes at the ground level
- To be able to give back to society & environment
What is one best thing about your venture ‘Madhouse to Mudhouse’?
The venture is about people, planet and profit – the 3 key pillars of sustainability. It is an endeavor to ensure that in order to cater to our present needs, we should not compromise on the needs of future generations. We are also determined to break the popular perception that sustainability and profitability cannot go hand in hand.
What are the core values of your venture ‘Madhouse to Mudhouse’?
Our core values are ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose & reposition the resources that are pre existing on our Mother Earth’.
How do you think the industry niche in which your business operates has evolved over time? In what direction do you see the industry moving in the future?
Integrated rural development is our micro niche, unlike (1) the straight jacketed approach of sustainable tourism and (2) farm produce market linkage. We started on these two pegs, but now have evolved into a holistic approach towards sustainability, while retaining these two pre-existing elements of our organizational being.
As a business leader, you must have committed a few mistakes. Which mistake taught you the best lesson?
When we started, we had focused on developing tourism infrastructure and we realized the hard way that we were not cut out for that. We also tried developing our own in-house agricultural expertise in a similar fashion, only to realize later that in the rural space and contrary to popular perception, we do not need to create any infrastructure. All we needed to do was re-purposing the existing surplus home inventory as well as farm produce and re-positioning both kinds of inventories, through the right format of storytelling and cutting age distribution platform.
We realized the hard way that the Indian rural eco-system is not devoid of talent or skill, but it is dangerously deficient in marketing their own indigenous ethnic goodness. We found the answer in being the bridge/ nodal point between urban and rural, rather being one of them.
What is the problem you are trying to solve with your venture?
We are focused on micro marginalized and small farmers of India to provide market linkage to their farm produce and unutilized accommodation of their homes. On the other hand, the urban eco system is devoid of nature and nutrition. We being positioned as the nodal point, are in the business of integrating the upper half of the social pyramid, with the lower half. Our motto is ‘glamourizing the farmers and ruralizing the urbans’ by ‘connecting the grassroots through parachute’.
Kindly describe a typical day at work. How do you ensure efficient and effective time management?
The only constant in our working life is change. Indian rural eco system is devoid of conventional resources and we not being the legacy players, often lack structure and predictability in terms of work routine. It’s dynamic and kaleidoscopic. Thus, being adaptive and finding method in madness is our strategy or mantra of the moment.
Instead of corporate style time management, we rather focus on creative time optimization. At every touch point, we ensure not to lose the sight of the forest in counting the trees.
*All views are that of the interviewee. UdyamGyan does not promote or endorse any claims.