When Srikanth Bolla was born everyone ‘advised’ his parents to get rid of the kid as he was blind. But his parents, who were not affluent by any counts choose to take care of him, that too, to the best of their abilities and give him education.
And it paid-off… Srikanth is today the CEO of a Hyderabad based company worth Rs 50 crore.
His company Bollant Industries, employs uneducated and physically challenged people to manufacture eco-friendly, disposable consumer packaging solutions out of natural leaf and recycled paper with manufacturing units in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
Srikanth even impressed Ratan Tata who recently invested an undisclosed amount in the company. Other investors on-board the company include the likes of Srini Raju of Peepul Capital, Satish Reddy of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Ravi Mantha, one of India’s more prolific angel investors.
But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for Srikanth, right from his school days he had to overcome one constant challenge, rejection.
Later he was admitted in school for special children, where he started topping his class and also played chess and cricket.
He also worked with former president APJ Abdul Kalam on the Lead India project, a movement to empower the youth through value-based education.
Despite scoring over 90 percent marks in Class 10, he had to fight for nearly six months to get himself enrolled for science batch.
With the support of a teacher who converted all the lessons into audio clips, Srikanth scored an impressive 98 percent in his exams.
But his rejections didn’t end there. This time it was by the IIT in 2009 on the same grounds that he was blind.
Srikanth however secured an admission in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from there in 2012.
He launched Bollant Industries on his return to India and now employees more than 450 people.
“Compassion,” he says, “is not about giving a coin to a beggar at the traffic signal. It’s showing somebody the way to live and giving them the opportunity to thrive.”