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“I grew confident at MassBay. I was no longer daddy’s
little girl. I wanted to go out and do something for myself. This
school totally transformed me.”
Hometown: Ahmedabad, India
Major: Environmental Sciences & Safety, MassBay Class of 2011
Vidisha Asarpota comes from a business background in India. Her family owns one of the largest dealerships of earthmoving, agricultural and materials handling equipment in the world. The company also has retail and solid waste consultancy dealings. “I was in a cocoon, a bit of a spoiled brat,” she admits now. But after coming to America, and studying at MassBay, Vidisha has become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in India – and she did it on her own.
Vidisha worked in the family business and earned a Master’s Degree in Marketing & Business from a premier business school in Ahmedabad, India. But by the time she was 30, she was feeling restless. “I wanted to do something with the environment, and I wanted to create my own sense of satisfaction rather than contributing to a business that was already well-established,” she explains. While attending a conference in Las Vegas, Vidisha ran into a family friend by the name of Hirul Patel – and her life was never the same again.
Hirul encouraged Vidisha to visit her in Boston, so on March 26, 2008, Vidisha came to visit her friend who was studying at MassBay at the time. Hirul brought Vidisha to the MassBay campus, showed her around, and said to her, “This is the place for you to learn what you want to learn.”
In August, Vidisha met with one of MassBay’s international student counselors and filled out the paperwork necessary for an F1 visa. She enrolled in MassBay in January of 2009.
“It was a 360 degree summersault for me,” she says. “I was learning about science, but whenever they said the word `cell’ I would assume they meant `sell’ from my marketing background. But the international counselors and the professors were very helpful to me. I enjoyed being around people from so many different cultures, castes, creeds, and races. And learning about some of the obstacles many of them were overcoming, I really began to appreciate what I had and developed a strong desire to seize on my opportunities.”
Being an international student on a F1 visa meant that Vidisha was not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week. She spent time volunteering at a waste management company to understand the trash management process, gaining an understanding that would lead to future business ventures back home.
In 2011, Vidisha added an Associate’s Degree in Environmental Sciences & Safety from MassBay to her academic credentials, and she returned home to the family business in India. But she was a changed woman.
“I grew confident at MassBay,” she explains. “I was no longer daddy’s little girl. I wanted to go out and do something for myself. This school totally transformed me.”
Applying that newfound confidence and eager to explore her passion for environmental science, Vidisha leveraged her academic credentials and family connections to approach municipal government officials in Gujarat, a city in western India with a population of 5.8 million. She wanted to address the fact that there was little to no organization of waste in the city – it was essentially dumped into landfills with no knowledge of whether it contained contaminates or any other harmful materials.
After earning several government grants, Vidisha oversaw the process of building a plant that turns trash into electricity. Metals will be separated and converted to fly ash, which will be used to make bricks. Plastics will be converted into oil, rubber and yard waste will be converted into bio-fuel. Expected to be completed in 2015, the plant will make Gujarat the first municipality in India to systematically recycle its waste.
In her dealings with the municipal government, Vidisha began to think about another problem they had been having. Many of the city’s wastewater pipes were getting clogged, and many restaurants and hotels were being fined for exceeding the limits of what they were allowed to emit. Vidisha called her friend who was by then an adjunct faculty member at MassBay, to discuss the issue.
Professor Patel recommended reverse osmosis for the water. She directed Vidisha to an American company in Florida that had developed a mechanism that utilizes bacteria to erode fats, oils and grease. The only company of its kind to do this work, Vidisha reached out to them to learn more.
In short order, Vidisha had established another venture, a business called EcoGreen Bio services that sells environmentally friendly tablets and could be used by organizations to prevent drain clogs. The company also provides a greywater filtration system that collects and cleanses water from sinks and showers, and then uses that water for sprinkler systems and as chillers for air conditioners. Among her customers are some of the world’s largest hotel chains.
“I live today as if there is no tomorrow,” she says with a broad smile. “I have no regrets about my path. I have a lot of responsibilities, yes, but I don’t feel stressed – I’m on the go!”
Vidisha also has hobbies to help relieve any stress, including one she developed while studying in America.
“I owned a Jeep when I was there,” she explains, “and I used to go to the scrap yards to find parts for it. Today, I enjoy rebuilding old cars with my brother. My family owns an eight-bay garage, so we have rebuilt/overhauled a 1940’s Jaguar convertible coupe, and a 1938 MG four-seater convertible. She currently drives a car which has a fiber body and is customized, which looks like a Porsche Boxer – it’s a two-seater convertible– but it has a Renault engine and other parts from various manufacturers. It’s great fun!”
Vidisha Asarpota added an Associate Degree in Environmental Sciences & Safety from MassBay in 2012 to her Master’s Degree in Marketing & Business she earned in her native India. She is an entrepreneur and global businesswoman, who credits MassBay for gaining the confidence to make her achievements a reality.