Srikanth Bolla, Founder of Bollant Industries

Srikanth Bolla, Founder of Bollant Industries

Hailing from a small, nondescript village in rural Andhra Pradesh, Srikanth Bolla has faced adversities and overcome challenges which few others can imagine. Born blind to poor, uneducated parents, Srikanth has faced immense opposition and struggle early in life, but the challenges made him grow up to be a strong, trailblazing visionary.

The very village that Srikanth was born in advised his parents to let him die as a baby. However, his parents were very compassionate and kind and brought him up with a lot of love and care. At six, he joined a regular school which was a couple of kilometers away from his home. Walking the long stretch on the village road every day to school without the privilege of eyesight was hard for Srikanth and his other senses developed keenly during these times. After two years, his parents made him join a special residential school in Hyderabad and he passed his class 10 exams with flying colours.

Srikanth wanted to study in the science stream after the tenth standard but state government rules didn’t permit the blind students to do so back then. He had to fight a long legal battle with the government to study science beyond the tenth standard in school. Later, top coaching institutes for engineering entrance exam preparation refused to take him in for enrollment. However, Srikanth always had bigger dreams and aspired for much more than what others expected of him. He not only cleared his tenth and twelfth standard exams with flying colours but also managed to be the first international blind student to study at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. Apart from academics, he excelled at national level blind cricket, international chess and other sporting events, like baseball and swimming.

In 2005, Srikanth became a Youth Leader in the Lead India Program to combat poverty and unemployment. Here, he started his journey in social service as a youth trainer to more than 800,000 youth in honing their leadership, human values and employability skills.  During the time at the Lead India program, Srikanth attracted his role model, the visionary scientist, educationist and former President of India, Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr Kalam often mentioned Srikanth as an inspiration and a big hero for himself. Srikanth bravely told Dr Kalam about his vision to be the first visually challenged President of India. But this was only the beginning of his aspiring leadership journey. Srikanth firmly believes that vision is much more than eyesight, and has to do more with the mind.

In 2011, Srikanth co-founded Samanvai Center for Children with Multiple Disabilities in Hyderabad, India, which provided educational, vocational, financial and rehabilitation services to students with multiple disabilities for an economically independent and self-sustained life. Through Samanvai, Srikanth and his like-minded co-founders, impacted the lives of more than 4,000 students with multiple disabilities who achieved massive empowerment. While studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he set up a computer training center promoting computer independence for educational and employment goals with grants from MIT Public Service Center. Moreover, he designed and implemented a much needed Braille library in Hyderabad with the support and grants from The Legatum Centre at MIT.

In 2012, Srikanth started Bollant Industries, his current organization, which is a fast growing, eco friendly paper product manufacturing company. Co-founded by Srikanth, his mentor Swarnalatha Takkilapati and angel investor Ravi Mantha, it was started with a mere capital of about Rs 10 lakh. Today, the company has grown both horizontally and vertically and is valued at approximately Rs 500 crore, has an annual turnover of more than Rs 100 crore, and has 500+ employees. Since its incorporation in 2012, the company has been growing at a steady rate of 20% per month and the compound annual growth rate has been a whopping 107% from 2015 to 2019.

Bollant was established with the mission of overcoming employment barriers for more than hundred million physically and mentally challenged people, and to provide sustainable and competitive employment to both skilled and unskilled or uneducated Indians. The manufacturing plants employ a mix of uneducated and unskilled able bodied people and people with various abilities. Srikanth believes that everyone should have the opportunity to work and training and employing disabled persons is good for each individual. He believes it is smart business — and is good for India. Through its five manufacturing plants, Bollant Industries provide direct and indirect employment to around 500 and 2,500 people respectively.

The company currently engages in the manufacturing of Kraft paper using recycled post-consumer municipal paper waste along with other elements like eco-friendly disposable consumer products and recycled paper based disposable and packaging material. It also manufactures non-chemical based food graded adhesives, printing inks, FMCG products and its surfactants. Srikanth strongly believes that protecting the environment is the only way to create wealth out of waste and build scalable businesses.  This vision leads Bollant to recycle unusable water, plastic; boiler generated solid ash and solid waste. This is why Bollant is “a zero waste company”. Bollant not only recycles 100% of its own waste but also recycles pharmaceutical effluents in the surrounding areas to create industrial chemical products. Srikanth envisions Bollant to  be a unicorn by 2025 with annual turnover of more than 1000 CR INR at which he plans for listing his company globally.

Srikanth believes in using green solar power to run his machines and so, plants at Bollant Industries partially run on solar power. When someone says Srikanth can do nothing, he goes over their head to say that he can do anything. Today, Srikanth continues to push his company to grow and expand further.

While being an inspirational figure to the youth and promoting entrepreneurship, Srikanth also currently leads a non-profit called Surge Impact Foundation, as its Director. This organization believes in finding and honing more entrepreneurs like Srikanth to build India into a developed nation. For Srikanth, entrepreneurship has been a spiritual yet lonely journey and he wants to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship to motivate and guide other Indian youth like him.

Srikanth has been a key motivational keynote speaker across the globe through which he had addressed in several important global conferences and events. He had motivated thousands of students, businessmen and corporate leaders within a short time.

A firm believer in spirituality, Srikanth loves watching movies, spending time with family and gets inspired by reading business and motivational books.

For his distinguished achievements, Srikanth has been honored with numerous awards and accolades. Some of them are:

  • Pratibha Excellence Awards, given by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for academic excellence.
  • Pride of Telangana Award in the emerging business entrepreneur category by Round Table India – 2018
  • Young Change Maker of the Year by Hindu Business Line – 2018
  • Listed in Forbes Asia 30 under 30, as emerging entrepreneur under the age of 30 – 2017
  • Emerging Enterprise Award by Saakshi group – 2017
  • Nava Nakshtra Sanmanam by TV9 media group 2019
  • Social Entrepreneur of the Globe by Youth Business International Uganda – 2016
  • Emerging Leadership Award by ECLIF Malaysia – 2016
  • Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by CII – 2016
  • Indian of the Year Award – 2015 by NDTV
  • Best Youth Leader Award from the former president of India – 2012
  • Youth Leadership Award presented by New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula – 2011
  • Honored Member, National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), a renowned college honor society – 2011
  • National Entrepreneurship Award by the Government of India, 2019
  • Entrepreneur of the Globe by One Young World, UK, 2019
  • Finalist in Emerging Entrepreneur by Financial Times, UK, 2018
  • Youth Excellence Award presented by the Telugu Fine Arts Society of New Jersey – 2010.
  • “Distinguished Youth Service Award” presented by Dr. J. Bapu Reddy for Outstanding Academic Performance – 2010.
  • All India Silver Medal for Fractional Distillation of Petroleum Project in 93rd Indian Science Congress – 2007
  • Won 2nd place in India’s 93rd Indian Science Congress
  • Outstanding person in business category, JCI India

For the year 2021, Srikanth has been chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and JCI USA has chosen him as one of JCI’s Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of the world. A biopic on his life is also likely to start shooting soon!

Srikanth has always dreamt big and has come a long way. However, he still believes that this is just the beginning of better things to come.