Need to revisit the curriculum at design schools, including NIFT/NID : Be Entrepreneurial

It was a pleasure and privilege to be part of the Jury of the finals of the first All India #NIFT HG #business plan competition at @n.i.f.t national HQ in Delhi. It is indeed an honour and joy to start a new journey of contributing to the #design #education and fostering #entrepreneurship in design schools of the country.

Today, we have 16 NIFT campuses across the country. Five finalists emerged from the six month long competition that started from each of the 16 campuses. This initiative by #HarishGupta, an #NIFT alum of 1991 batch is praiseworthy and has the potential of #transforming the #design #education in #India.
In the pic include the visionaries who have given shape and are still giving to not only NIFT but also design as a edu-vertical and industry in the country. first DG Mrs Rathi (IAS) and current DG Mrs Sharda (IAS). Also seen are pioneer in #womenentrepreneurship @cwei Mrs Shashi, the founding CEO of Lacoste in India, Jayant, Harish Gupta of fashion learning, Praveen of Pincap fintech and other eminent roleholders in the NIFT fraternity Prof Sibichan, Prof Prabir, Prof Sudha, Prof Sohail…

The Jury was chaired by Mr Ganesh Natarajan, now an entrepreneurial mentor and investor, who has been known for spearheading Aptech at one point of time.

My few take aways from being part of the Jury..

A. The students taken in by the NIFT/NIDs may be creative, but the institutions need to invest in their personality transformation. You can present yourselves, create opportunities and clinch deals only if you are articulate and are convincing.

B. There is a dire need for instittutions to create a larger vision for themselves that can impact society in various ways, not limited to churning graduates. The four years of education needs to integrate with the external world. Break the insulated existence.

C. Then comes the need facilitate students to create their vision for life. Greater the integration with the external world through excercises of bringing outside world into classrooms and taking classrooms to the outsideworld, higher will be facilitation of students to have a better vision.

D. Need to foster entrepreneurial mindset as part of evolution of a student during the four years. This happens only when the institution is entrepreneurial, faculty is entrepreneurial, the processes are entrepreneurial. The institution should think of a few challenges/problems in its city as projects that could add immense value to the society, and solve them through their expertise; bring in relevant corporates to sponsor (csr), integrate these projects with the curriculum, at least in the 3rd and 4th year. Initiate the students into a structured entrepreneurial curriculum in the second year.

E. Of course embrace and institutionalize the competitions like NIFT HG business plan competition to help students participate, validate their ideas, create incubation possibilities. The funds will pour in. I am sure there are many investors like me who want to bet on the horses with potential.

F. The institutions need to tell themselves that they will incubate half a dozen endeavours/companies every year.

A stitch in time saves nine, as they say. It is time for NIFTs and NIDs to restitch in time to infuse energies.

Time to take off.


Build a business plan for yourself, not for an investor – Satya in Economic Times – INDIA EMERGING [Feb 11,2011 Page 15]

Straight from the gut - Satya; IWSB in Theory and Practise of rearing Businessmen

Economic Times, Feb 11, 2011, Page 15: Straight from the gut - Satya; IWSB in Theory and Practice of rearing Businessmen

The Economic Times Column – STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT – Feb 11, 2011

HE first dropped the class 12th exams to pursue a career in cricket and then cricket to pursue education. Satya Narayanan R, son of a class-three postal services employee, thus started Career Launcher, which today is a 150-crore education service provider. In conversation with Peerzada Abrar of The Economic Times, Satya explains how his entrepreneurial dreams became a reality despite lack of resources.

My early childhood, in Hyderabad, was a very difficult period, full of struggle. We were four children in the family. My father’s salary was below 1,000. The money used to get over before the end of the month. I would attribute the foundation of my entrepreneurial skills to that period, whether it is the value for money or emphasis on education.

I once dreamed of playing cricket for India. At the age of 14, I was among the 30 people that former Indian cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi selected out of the 1500 players who had come to hone their cricketing skills under him. At one point, the reason for my existence was cricket. I would eat, sleep and breathe cricket. I played for Delhi state and my college and won many trophies. Sports teaches a lot of skills that are important for an entrepreneur, such as focus, mental fitness, teamwork and an attitude that says that the match is not over until the last ball.

The idea to start something on my own was in my head since the day pharmaceutical major Ranbaxy picked me up straight from IIM-B campus. It was a very entrepreneurial company at that time. I became a brand manager from a management trainee, but I wanted to move on — on my own. I conceptualised the idea of training programmes in group discussion and interviews for CAT aspirants. Career Launcher was started in 1995 from my home in Delhi, with a few chairs in the room. I had just 5,000 in the bank as a corpus. But personality development programmes became popular among students. We made 10 lakh in 1997, which became 2 crore in the year 2000. We expanded our services to top B-Schools such as the IIMs, TISS, XLRI, MDI and S P Jain.

The year 2000 was a crazy period of dot-com bubble and bust. VCs were investing aggressively in internet firms. Education start-up Egurucool attracted $10 million that time. But we were not tempted and remained focused on our idea. We also attracted venture capital from Intel and made an acquisition to expand. I learnt that we should not build a business plan for an investor, but for ourselves. An investor is not your god, otherwise he himself would have become an entrepreneur. An investor is incidental to your business plan.

I could see the end of honeymoon period, even though the whole ecosystem was gung-ho about the rapid growth of the education sector. I was restless and trying to decide what to do next. So we started kindergarten to 12th standard schools, a business school and ventured into vocational education. Till the year 2005 we were 100% test prep company with revenues of around 50 crore. We reinvented ourselves and today we are an 150-crore company with 40% of the revenues coming from non-test prep areas. We want to go deep into school, vocational and higher education. The aim is to be a 500-crore firm by 2015.


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