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.


IWSB Alum Sumit Gunjan, an inspiring changemaker, featured in Indian Express

Delighted to see #IWSB 2010-2012 PGP alum, @SumitGunjan, who anchored the school for children of construction workers in the evenings on campus, being featured in the Indian Express today.

IWSB - SEE : Mull-A-Cause launches library for childrenGUNJAN with friends facilitating children at the IWSB – SEE : Mull-A-Cause launches library for children

Sumit Gunjan has always been an epitome of empathy; a fine human being who always strived to create an impact wherever he was! Blessed to have such purposeful, passionate, persevering human beings who walked into life.

The above photograph is from the occasion of launch of the library for children at the evening school, when Indira and Mallika bought over 200 books for children from CBT and other sources. The evening saw story-telling and book reading sessions. More of the photos can be seen at the album Mull-A-Cause


Here I am copying the Indian Express Story, as it appears on its website. I humbly thank IE.

In hostel for tribal children near Ranchi, lessons on how to stay close to roots

Two events, two years apart, were to set Sumit Gunjan on a journey that would not only change his life but that of scores of tribal children in ‘Bal Nivas’, a hostel he set up for them in Banta-Hajam, a village in Silli Block, 70 km from Ranchi.

The first was eight years ago, in 2010, when Gunjan, then a 20-year-old pursuing a post-graduate management programme in a Greater Noida institute, came across a group of children of construction workers at a plot near his college. He began engaging with them, holding informal classes for them with the help of his batchmates and a few professors.

The second “turning point” was in early 2012, when Gunjan, still with the Greater Noida institute, undertook a “research yatra” to Jharkhand for the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in Ahmedabad to study medicinal herbs used by the tribals of Jharkhand.

The first time Gunjan, the youngest of three children of a district court lawyer in Jharkhand’s Giridih, visited Banta-Hajam, he stayed for five days. But he kept coming back to the village, fascinated by the tribal way of life, until he finally decided to stay on for good that April.

“Yahaan ka boli, yahaan ka chaal… hum sab kuchh sikhaya usko (I taught him our language, our practices… everything),” says Bhavani Patar Munda at whose mud house Gunjan began by imparting basic literacy lessons to children.

Gunjan also worked in the fields, did errands and lived like any other member of the Munda household. “From then until today, we have never discussed rent. I live with them, work with them, eat with them,” says Gunjan, who has a Bachelor’s degree in management from Durgapur, West Bengal.

A couple of years ago, Gunjan, with help from villagers, friends and well-wishers, set up Bal Nivas, where 35 tribal children are imparted knowledge of traditional tribal languages, and trained in singing, dancing, classical music, computers and spoken English, besides vocational skills such as bee-keeping and knitting.

The children, all of them from the village, live in Bal Niwas, cooking their own food and cleaning their living quarters. While some children go to the primary school in the village and others to schools in Ranchi, they come back to the hostel, where they are encouraged to stay connected with the tribal way of life.

“At any given point, we teach around 35 children, of whom 25 are girls. They learn music, folk and classical, instruments such as the tabla, harmonium and even the tuila, a traditional tribal instrument on the verge of extinction, the do-tara and the mandolin,” says Gunjan.

When he arrived at Banta-Hajam village, Gunjan realised the children had limited language skills, and were not interested in studying. That’s when he came up with the Bal Nivas concept. “Initially, this was a place to give young children time after formal school where they learned basic things like mathematics and language through activities that were part of their own milieu like local games, which children don’t play these days,” he said.

At present, there are around 15 children, including seven girls, who live at the Bal Nivas. “Most of these children either do not have a father or a mother or are orphans. Also, we take children, who are generally dubbed failures by their own community or those who veer towards alcoholism and other vices at a young age,” he said.

The villagers donate rice every week, while the children have created a fund, donating Rs 2-3 a week. Gunjan also earns by teaching at two teachers’ training institutes in Koderma and Giridih.

Gunjan says he realised that to impart education to tribal children, he would have to first understand them better. “They ate rice three times a day. I started having the same diet and realised it was affecting my stamina. It then became easier for me to explain to them why having a balanced diet, especially for children, was necessary,” he says.

Some of his friends from NIF pushed Gunjan to introduce machines for sowing paddy. “But I decided to sow the saplings myself, along with the women. I then realised how it was also a place and platform for women to socialise. They would sing their traditional songs and come to know about each other’s lives. If we introduce machines, this beautiful thing would be lost. I am not against technology, but it has to be integrated with the milieu in which it is to be introduced,” he says.

Villagers are full of praise for Gunjan’s efforts. “Earlier, the only option for a young boy growing up in these parts was to migrate for work, or fall in bad company and take to liquor and other intoxicants. Gunjan has brought the focus back on all the good practices and traditions that we lived by but have now forgotten,” says Jogendra Gope, a folk singer, on whose land Gunjan set up the hostel. His daughter Sumati now learns classical and folk music at the hostel.

However, the journey wasn’t always smooth. “Last year, some people, upset with what Gunjan was doing, approached the panchayat. They wanted to know why so many girls were in the hostel and why they were being trained in music and dance. But, we stood our ground and, finally, they relented,” says Ramesh Chandra Kumhar, a lac businessman who lives opposite the hostel and who trains the children in vocational skills.

Kumhar says the reason why almost all villagers backed Gunjan was that the change he had brought about was for everyone to see.

Suraj Patar Munda, one of the students at Bal Nivas, says, “I had fallen into bad company and would take marijuana and never attend school. Now, I have left all that and I’m getting trained in music, besides English and computer,” says the teenager who is enrolled at the Ramakrishna Mission School in Ranchi.

Gunjan says he could win the trust of parents, especially of girl students at Bal Nivas, because he kept things transparent. “We would invite parents to live with us at Bal Nivas. When they saw for themselves how things were, they felt good about it and believed me,” he says.

The biggest certificate of their trust came in 2015 when he travelled with some of the children to Ahmedabad for the annual Satvik Food Festival of NIF. “For a village where girls are not supposed to go beyond Ranchi without men escorting them, it was a big thing,” says Gunjan.

One of those who made that trip to Ahmedabad was Ashtami Patar Munda, the 15-year-old daughter of Munda, at whose house Gunjan stayed when he first came to the village in 2012. “For the first time, I saw a world outside our village. Had it not been for Gunjan bhaiyya, it would have been unthinkable. I want to follow his footsteps,” she says.

Jharkhand’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson, Arti Kujur, who has attended a couple of cultural programmes organised by Gunjan’s students, says, “He got the artistes to perform to themes such as child marriages and human trafficking, which is a problem in these areas. Also, he has gained the confidence of the tribals. It’s not easy.”

But what really matters for Gunjan are lines like these, delivered with a warm smile. “For us, he is one of our own. He has changed our lives for the better,” says Alam Khan, a resident of Banta-Hajam.

VCCircle conference on Edu-Investments, November 18, Gurgaon, India – My notes as a Panelist

I was part of two sessions, one as a panelist and the other as a special invitee… Here is my notes – Pre-event, during Event and post thoughts…


Edupreneurs: Revolutionising the Effectiveness of Education Delivery Systems (How can edupreneurs work in a dichotomic market like India to merge the chasms between the organized and highly unorganized education sector in the country, mainly higher education? Building sustainable businesses is the key to being a successful entrepreneur. How should entrepreneurs and institutes walk away from working in silos and leverage each other’s strength in creating a robust education system?

Panel Members –

– Manjula Pooja Shroff, Chairperson, Kalorex – Moderator
– Bindu Rana, Director, Millenium schools
– Prachi Windlass, Director, Michael and Susan Dell foundation, INDIA
– Gopal Devanahalli, VP, Manipal Global Education, Manipal Group
– R. Sreenvasan, Co-Founder, CL Educate


Each one planned to introduce oneself and ones work, in short….

My Pre-Event NOTES of CL Educate Intro…

Career Launcher is a leader in –
– Test Prep
– K-12 education – Indus world schools
– Skill education – skill schools

Also through the following entities, CL does capacity building of University and Corporate

– CL Media – Digital Presence
– GK Publications – Curricula and Pedagogy; Curriculum Support & Publishing
– 361 degree – On Demand  Learning
– Accendere – Research Incubator
– Bilakes – Business Incubation & Seed Funding
– Kestone – Corporate empowerment and building institutional Partnerships

Statistics in Numbers

CL – 265 locations, 1.5 million engaged, over 1.5 lakhs more than 50 hours
Accendere – Research incubation, Patenting, Journal publishing
CL Media – 163 institutions trust with us for branding, outreach and awareness building
Kestone – integrated marketing,events, customer activation, training, staffing; 100 corporates, 500 events – wipron nokia, microsoft, snapdeal, PayTM
G K P – 1.5 million books.. career and education
361 degree – largest in India – online enabling partner for University and corporates over 20K learners

Footprint – 20K schools and colleges; 1.5 lakh students > 18,200 hours on our web offerings per week


Academic Thought Leadership, International Presence, Institution Credibility

– Capacity building of universities and institutions, learning institutions
– Consulting Visioning Strategic Thinking
– Faculty, Academic development, Research and innovation
– Admissions: Outreach and Application – TAAF Services
– skill education
– Incubation and entrepreneurship
– Career Development Center – Employability, Higher studies facilitation

—CONTEXT——- current market scenario —–challenges for the nation

Only 18% graduates are employable in India
91% software professionals lack programming and algorithm skills while 60% lack domain skills
71% lack soft and cognitive skills while 73% lack English speaking and comprehension skills
57.96% have poor analytical and quantitative skills
For core jobs in mechanical, electronics/electrical and civil jobs, only a mere 7.49% are employable

The session was supposed to be on higher-education, but the panel felt that the continuum from school to university has similar challenges and reforms are needed across the segments. Also opportunities and investment needs do exist across. So the pre-session discussion covered the entire spectrum.

Pre-event notes of each of the panelists..

Issues I noted down ..

– Democratization of Learning and its access
– Contestability of markets, access to Universities
– Digital technologies and creating impact
– Mobility and the influence in learning; Global Mobility
– Integration with industry; Industry funding research
– Opportunities for entrepreneurs and Funding possibilities

– Life-long LEARNERS, COURAGE, HUMILITY : Key, How to instill?

Gopal Devanahalli wanted to talk about

– I would like to focus on higher education and continuing education for working professionals.
– Changing learning needs of working professionals – esp in certain industries like IT
– Online courses & types of courses that are relevant to the learners
– The effectiveness of the online delivery model and how to make it more effective.
– Regulatory issues

Prachi Jain Windlass  wanted to talk about the following –

– Opportunity areas in K12 education, college entrance and career readiness.
– Opportunities for collaboration and leveraging the ecosystem. Many of our portfolio companies: Avanti, Convegenius and OnlineTyari are taking this approach. understanding their core and leveraging the ecosystem for non core areas.
– Our experience in breaking down the silos in the govt education system, and the role that private sector players can play, risks involved.

Manjula Pooja Shroff of Kalorex wanted to focus upon
– Changing scenarios
– Integration of k-12 to Higher Ed
– Teaching Learning delivery process

Bindu Rana’s concerns included

– Challenges in running schools – to deliver the intended
– Regulations stifling the effectiveness
– Challenges in setting up rural schools – quality, price point, training, delivery

– Why cannot the government see education as any other industry? With challenges of access and quality existing all across..

  • Promote PPP models across
  • Engage and bring in private partners to collaborate in school and university systems
  • Use technology to improve training of teachers in enriching content, pedagogy and all processes
  • ….

Other Issues discussed across panels – My notes

Is the nation ready for only digital? Is that trend every where?
– hybrid model is the most successful one
– engaging is the key, mentoring, giving the confidence

Lessons from failures? Key to success
– Team with vision
– sustainable relationship within and with customer
– respect with disagreements in board room and among the team members

Skill education went through cycles.. now we are in the third..
A. IT education – 80s and 90s
B. Sales upgradation – 2000 onwards..
C. now vocational? Entrepreneurship
– quality of higher education is lacking
– rote to conceptual learning, how will we make it happen
– concept of job, loyalty shifting
– nature of learning will have to shift
– propensity to entrepreneurship
– learning to learn paradigm

How do we enable learners to face VUCA?

– VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity
– learning, calling passion from within, help others raise their capabilities

Public education….how to revive?
– policy enablement

– Rote to Conceptual learning?
– edtech – retrain teachers, students,
– appraising teachers, reward them, being discipline,monitor

Home schooling
– becoming popular
– investment opportunities?
– work-life, work-home balancing

Key to succeed in Education space

Quality first, then scale
Be prepared for long haul, then scale
Then comes franchising

—————————————————– As a special invitee..

AKAMAI Presentation – Digital delivery platform, especially Video that will be 80% of the content on-line in the near future..

– formats : 5 min and 20 min content
– launch has to be fast, else you lose the client/subscriber

High quality
– no stalling/no buffering;
– always available, relevant,
– no data plan restrictions

Education on mobility? what are the trends, and what will be challenges of the future..

Instant user experience – FB provides
Consume as much as possible
Offline content goes online – you tube
Download during nights, local content play while travel
Challenges about space on device
Battery running out – delete the app

Here is the link to a set of photographs of the event uploaded by VCCircle on their FB page




My Journey – Pradeep Gupta, Founder CYBERMEDIA : Addressing TYE participants

Mr Pradeep Gupta, Founder and CEO, CYBERMEDIA addressing TYE participants at the inaugural session

Let me start by sharing my background….

–        1970-75, IIT DELHI

–        1977 IIMC

–        Joined a start up from the campus, very unusual in those days

  • HCL – 1976-77, multibillion dollar company now; first set of management grads there

–        1980 – started a software company

  • 1982 – wanted to get into media, never had any background
  • Cybermedia – Dataquest, PC Quest,…
  • Now DARE for entrepreneurship
  • More than a dozen publications and websites

–        Late 1990s, TIE was coming into the country, got involved with the movement

  • At that time Entrepreneurial ecosystem was lacking
  • A small amount of money required for those who want to start
  • Funding fraternity : Infinity, Indian angel network – India Bulls was funded

–        Asked the youngsters “Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?”

  • Freedom, own boss, own goals
  • Serve people with profit
  • Upliftment of the society / impacting the society
  • No ceilings
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Want to be Job providers
  • Profit / it is all mine
  • Adrenaline rush all the time / ideating

The youngsters participating in TYE

Let me address a few of the issues you have stated…

–        Freedom asks for more responsibility and discipline

  • In social studies, it says, you have rights, but you have responsibility too

–        A friend of mine, quit ad-agencies and became a brand consultant

  • I was working till late and work odd-hours
  • Here I was lounging, then shared that he realized as an entrepreneur I have to be more disciplined

–        Own Boss

  • Own vision, roles, direction
  • “Mera wala pink” – You can create your own canvas

–        Profit

  • Is all mine, for sure
  • You will always have resources short of your dream
    • You will raise resources, then you need to part with your profits then
    • You will create a team to be successful, you will part with equity

–        Sky is the limit

  • Job creation, supporting families

–        Ideas into reality

  • Passion
  • Ideas into reality

PG asked “What is the flip side of entrepreneurship?”

–        You can be a threat to the national security – Bill Gates and the US (E)

–        Risk : No fixed income

–        Lot of responsibility; (E)

–        If idea did not succeed, failure even after investing so much; may even go bankrupt

–        Finding money (E)

–        You have to take care of yourself and losses

–        Lot of instability – emotionally, not limited to financial;  unpredictability, (E),

–        High pressure – (E)

–        Public policy barriers; corruption;  volatile markets and economy

–        Competition ; Leadership challenges (E)

–        Discouragement from being an entrepreneur – not easily accepted (E); social acceptability of failure

–        Work-life balance

What prompted PG to start on his own?

–        One more story, while I was passing out of IIT Delhi

  • Critical decisions in life that will tell you what you are going to do
  • Started applying for jobs
    • TIFR – highly tech questions in the interview, got through
    • Job with TELCO – Now Tata Motors
    • Admissions in the Univ of California, berkley
    • IIMC
  • Each path would have lead me in different direction
    • One friend of mine went to TIFR, now Deputy Director at NIC, Professor at IITD
    • Many friends went to the US, a few became entrepreneurs, acads or high paying jobs
    • Had I joined, Tata Motors; Senior Hierarchy in Tata empire
  • Decision to join HCL, a start up after IIMC was also not a normal one at that time
    • A professor of mine advised me to join the start up
    • Because of that exposure, entrepreneurial juices got released
    • HCL was highly entrepreneurial
    • Those days were pre-personal computer era
    • Mainframes and Mini – 13kb memory; floppy disks – 80 Kb;
    • Disks replaced punch cards that were in vogue then
    • At HCL Software development, training customers, etc…

–        HCL, itself was suffering – needed people, computers very expensive, ..

–        I somehow wanted to buy a computer (4 lakhs)

  • Get the data, process and give the results
  • I will do training
  • Raise some money to start off
  • I put money after raising it from friends and invested

–        Shiv Nadar wanted to have a chat, once I put in my papers

  • I shared that I wanted to become an entrepreneur
  • He said that he was thinking of sending me to Singapore, to head operations
    • Many temptations will be your way; discouragement
  • Once he felt that I am determined, Shiv asked how he could help me
    • got software assignments,

–        Media company : 1981 – Defence colony barsaati

–        A girl from UNICEF – livestock idea… did a back of the envelope calculation

  • Livestock times
  • Paper and reams..
  • Rums and cokes inside
    • I will have to put money, then have to know the business
    • Converted into a magazine – Dataquest : India’s first B-2-B magazine

Why not Berkley, why IIMC?

–        Majority of people going to Berkley did not become entrepreneurship

–        IIMC, I thought will facilitate me


–        Raising money was far difficult during our time

–        It was not accepted / socially was not

–        Setting up a company was difficult

–        Doing your own business is the last choice

–        Business was a dirty word

–        Today incubators, Seed money, angel network, HNI, loans…. Many avenues (in a special session we will deal with them)


–        People would say film magazines, women and political mags work, no other magazine

–        Business mags just came out in 1981

–        I did not have any idea about publishing

–        Sports and Children’s mags did not do well

Four ingredients, key to success

–        Inspiration – Idea that will change, disruptive

  • Idea can just take you that far; it will bring copy-cats
  • Microsoft did not expect google; they could never match google’s search engine

–        Aspiration

  • Passion is important
  • Companies become 6 crore, not go beyond; hunger in the belly stagnates

–        Respiration

  • Build a team,
  • Get people better than you
  • Raise equity, get ideas

–        Perspiration

  • It is all about hardwork
  • Roles
  • First three years, I have not had any vacation
  • You have to pay everyone who works for you; you may not take for yourself

I still remember the first issue of DataQuest. I still have a copy of it. Indescribable pleasure. There are risks, pressures and responsibilities

You will have pressures even when you are working for others. What would the managers of NOKIA be doing today, when from being a leader in the business you have been relegated to a struggle in the market?

Entrepreneurship has been an accepted path today.

–        Do not try entrepreneurship if you are risk averse..

–        When the risks are there, rewards are there..

How do entrepreneurs chase the rewards – How does wealth get enhanced?

–        Sense of accomplishment is there…

  • Recognition

–        Profits : how will you take it from a company

  • Salary /  incentives / commissions / perks
  • Shares – dividends get paid
    • Value of the shares go up – defined by capital markets perception
    • Buy out
  • IPO, stock markets  you know the valuation

–        We need to realize that a few CEOs will get paid more than an entrepreneur

–        Serial entrepreneur is the height of entrepreneurship

  • One kind of entrepreneurship required in early stages
  • Second kind of DNA required to run in the second stage
    • Systems, processes, consolidation…

–        If ambitions are high, then resources are needed

  • IPO
  • Diluting
  • Other shareholders
  • Responsible for all

Q & A

–        As a Cyber Media CEO – how do you balance between Work and Family

  • The choices are not binary in nature
  • We need to create balance
  • We need to deal with multiple pressures, in the limited hours
  • If we plan well time-wise, you can always work
  • Quality of time is as much important as quantity

–        What happens to the employees, when one company is sold off to another

  • Employees will continue to be part of the new company
  • As long as you are performing, need not worry

–        Were there any time, when you were going through huge losses, how you dealt with

  • 2009 slow down affected very badly
  • Borrowed money from banks
  • Shutdown business that are not profitable
  • IBM went through sever losses in 1990s and then came back
  • Steps to overcome
    • Reassess what you are doing wrong or right, strategize
    • Cash needs to be available
      • You must be able to pay
      • Close down a few business, sell assets
      • Restructure the business to spare money

–        What was the driving force to continue entrepreneurship

  • Passionate
  • Sense of achievement
  • Hurdles will come in the way, how do we handle is very important

–        Had you gone to the US would it have impacted better

  • I thought of an Idea, and wanted to make it happen
  • Possible could have postponed, but someone would have come with a magazine
  • We have not seen the future..
  • If you have entrepreneurial bent, see an opportunity, why postpone
  • Becoming an entrepreneur is difficult in later part of life

–        Ideal path – job then entrepreneur, or start off?

  • What worked for me might not work for you..
  • Each one has his or her own path….
  • Idea is the key..
  • Jagdish Kattar – Carnation

–        Infinity ventures : 5-7 years fund

  • Every fund has life, it gets distributed
  • India Bulls was the greatest company; India games is now with disney
  • Then we formed Angel Network
    • Every year new money is raised, new investments every year (2 every month)

–        1999-2000

  • Boom helped many entrepreneurs
  • Money was flowing, about 1000 companies came into existence; only 10 might have survived
  • Money is just one among many things required; it is perhaps the least

–        Did you have plan B, while starting a company?

  • Sometimes we really think too much;
  • safety nets are there for all of us who are educated
  • Once you are passionate, you will not think of anything

–        Stereotypes

  • Any for females now?
    • No one rule fits everything
    • Create own path
  • Social stereotypes
    • Risk takers
    • Aspirational

Knowledge is sitting in this room; we have everything here…. Just go and believe in your ideas and create your business.

Initiating the young into the path of entrepreneurship – TYE 2013 program – My inaugural address

It was indeed an inspiring morning today when I took the inaugural session for the fourth batch of TYE of TIE (TIE Young Entrepreneurship program of The Indus Entrepreneurs). Three years ago, IWSB (Indus world school of Business), an endeavour of Career Launcher (CL Educate) initiated the program with TIE for the school children (classes 8-12; age 14-18) to experience the concept of entrepreneurship and kick start the potential journey of being an entrepreneur. This year, I was delighted to see over 90 participants from various schools assembling for the inaugural session at Bharti centre for Telecommunication technology at IIT Delhi campus on a Sunday morning.

I was delighted to interact with a few parents of the children who have attended the previous batches and were glad to have their second child in this batch. They shared their experience of TYE program and its impact on their first ward – that their outlook towards life has changed and are pursuing their dreams passionately.

I started the session by eliciting the ‘expectations’ of the participants from the program. Responses varied from ‘understanding entrepreneurship’ to possibly coming out with an idea that they can pursue to fruition, to finding possible partners who will be part of such a journey from among the participants, to getting ideas to raise funds and finding mentors…. It was heartening to see a large number of the participants well informed, though only handful of them has parents who are entrepreneurs.

The participants were looking forward to a program that was devoid of text books and tests, as they were told that TYE would be. But, we started with a surprise test (Written Instructions tool) – All looked shocked as they hated tests that they regularly had in their schools. Once the test started, they had fun… As they realized this was a very different test that they had never experienced… Have a look at the action during the 90sec test and subsequent discussion on ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ of their behaviour…

A few of their sharing about the test were –
– I felt amused
– I rushed to the task
– I did not think before doing
– Felt Immense Competition
– Was happy to see the questions and solving them, became sad when I saw 19th
– Anxious about my performance
– Time was constraint – just needed to hurry
– Tests have always been scary
– Made calculations, strategy of how I will complete in 90 seconds
– Peer pressure
– Conditioning

Then I invested subsequent hour sharing stories (The inspiring session of ‘Think Big, Start Small’ that is part of my national entrepreneurial motivating tour) of entrepreneurial endeavours of many a young as well as enterprising youth from not-so-well-to-do families, about how they are transforming themselves, business and communities. Visit the page – ..Think Big, Start Small

The session was an eye-opener for every participant. It set a platform for the whole program. A few of the take-away that they shared at the end of the session were –
• No idea for business is too small
• Observation and introspection is the key; opportunities are around you
• Do not worry about what others will think, have confidence in your idea
• Do not fear failure
• Be disruptive, make changes
• You need not have education and resources to be successful;
• you need conviction and have to be passionate

Unsung Heroes : Sahooji, Pohewale – Raipur, Chattisgarh

Unsung hero Sahooji, Raipur

Unsung hero Sahooji, Raipur

On my travel through chattisgarh, I reached Raipur from Bhilai, one early morning, after my day long workshop with about two hundred young b-school aspirants in Bhilai. My workshops usually end with my favourite session on entrepreneurship. And I am always on lookout for new stories all the time to add to the session.

When I stepped out of the bus, it was early morning 7am, the roads were deserted in Raipur. In a while, school children started emerging on the streets to take their school buses. Since I had reached earlier than scheduled, I started capturing the children with my camera. I still had about an hour to spend before the CL office opened for the day. I thought of walking along the road further.

As I moved, about a couple of hundred feet, I noticed a huge crowd around a ‘thela’ (a hand cart’). Also I saw that cars of various sizes and shapes were parked. I could just see the roof of the thela. This cart was parked in front of a large shopping mall, which was closed since it was too early in the day. I reached the place and started observing. The crowd was mostly a mix of youngsters – college students and, rich and wealthy who are on their way from their morning walks and workouts. The gentleman manning the thela, along with a young support staff, was too busy serving pipe hot ‘poha’.

I was observing the action, while clicking a few photos too, from the vantage point of the mall. A group of youngsters, whom I could identify by their discussions as engineering college students, who live in nearby paying guest accommodations, finished their breakfast, packed a few more plates of poha and vanished. Crowd kept coming. Just then a group of four gentlemen, In their track suits, Got down from a car, ordered for their breakfast and started stretching and relaxing. I approached them to ask a few questions.

Are you all coming from your morning workouts ? Yes, we go for a walk at Gandhi Udyan, which is a couple of kilometers from here.

Do you go by this way every day?The way back from our work outs, we come here for our breakfast every day.

Since how long have you been coming? We have been regular here for the last four years.

What makes you come here? After our walks we tend to continue our chat. What a better way than to do it over hot, tasty and healthy breakfast. And Sahuji’s poha is the best.

Meanwhile Sahuji delivers hot poha for them to relish. And I moved on to the thela.

The crowd still coming. I accosted another gentleman who was eating his third plate of poha and started asking him about why and what of his choice of having breakfast here. He owns a Chevrolet showroom and has been a regular for the last two and half years. Here is the video.

While Sahu ji was still busy, I tried to elicit some information about his business. Though I shared with him that all data I need is for motivating youngsters, Sahooji was very reluctant to reveal any numbers. He was willing to share a l other worldly knowledge, very comfortably. While interacting with me, he refilled the hot pan with the next tranche of poha from the stock.

I pieced the heard and unheard, observed and sensed information :

1. His day starts at 4am, when he starts making poha
2. By 6:30am He reaches the business location, with his thela well equipped
3. His wares get exhausted by 10am
4. Then he spends an hour shopping for the next day
5. By 12pm, he is free for the day


1. Twenty Kilograms of poha made every day
2. Every plate of poha is about 50gms
3. So every kilogram yields 20 plates;
4. And twenty kgs yield 400 plates
5. Each plate, sold at rs. 20/-, yields about rs. 8000/- per day
6. His costs do not exceed 1500/- a day

On a conservative estimate he makes about Rs. 2 Lakhs a month

When I went for the motivation session in a college later in the day in Raipur, I started my session with this example. All of them immediately shared that the Pohawala is Sahooji and he is popular by the name Sahooji pohewale!

What would happen if a young MBA grad goes and sits with Sahooji and, helps him think big. With his popularity, I am sure we can launch ‘many theles’, mentored and facilitated by him. Each of these theles can be branded ‘Sahuji pohewale’ working on standards and consistency in taste and experience.

How many of us, well qualified B-school grads, are willing to take Such a challenge?

IWSB featured in “The theory and practice of rearing businessmen”, Economic Times, INDIA EMERGING, FEB 11,2011, Page 15

Colleges are discovering a great opportunity in educating entrepreneurs and incubating companies. Radhika P Nair and Peerzada Abrar find out more.

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

WHEN it comes to educating future entrepreneurs, “catch them young” seems to be the reigning philosophy. While many of the top management and technology institutes in the country, like the IIMs and IITs, have set up incubation centres and introduced electives that cover aspects of entrepreneurship, tier-II and tier-III colleges are the ones who have turned to entrepreneurship education in a big way.

In fact, there is a move to inculcate entrepreneurship even in school children. The National Entrepreneurship Network (NeN), a non-profit organisation that helps develop entrepreneurship education system at academic institutions all over the country, conducts an annual Entrepreneurship Week, or Eweek, across colleges in the country. This year, they brought it to schools as well and got school students to try the “50 exercise”.

Originated at Stanford, this game involves teams of students coming up with an idea, forming a company on paper and investing a maximum of 50 (not real currency) in the company. At the end of the half-day exercise, they see what they have earned and learned.

Ahmedabad’s Satyameva Jayate International School (SJIS) teaches entrepreneurship to even six year-olds. Hina Shah, the founder and director of SJIS, said they use specially designed modules to teach the children.

However, can entrepreneurship actually be taught in a classroom? And, have these entrepreneurship courses produced entrepreneurs?

Bangalore-based MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT) is one of the many institutes that have started focusing on entrepreneurship as a viable option for its students. “We give importance to practical aspects of enterprise as courses tend to focus only on theory,” said K Rajanikanth, principal, MSRIT.

The institute has an entrepreneurship development cell, which provides training to interested students on a voluntary basis. The institute also has an incubation centre, which provides the entire infrastructure for the incubatee for two years. Rajanikanth said they are also planning to set up a seed fund soon.

One of the successful start-ups to come out of the MSRIT incubator is Gumbi Software, an education solutions provider, set up by Harsha Mahabala, a 2006 Computer Science student of MSRIT. Mahabala always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he was planning to study business administration before setting up his own venture. “Without the support and mentoring I received at my college, it would have taken much longer to start up on my own,” said Mahabala. Today, Gumbi Software is a 13.5-crore company.

While Mahabala always knew he would become an entrepreneur, for Jia Jain it was chance and not choice that made him start a chain of fine-dining vegetarian restaurants, called 1947, in Bangalore. After passing out of Jain University’s MATS Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship in 2005, Jain set up his first outlet in 2006. He said there was a constant focus on entrepreneurship at the Institute. This led him to think of entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to a corporate job.

He now has five restaurants and is eyeing a turnover of 8 crore this financial year. The Institute’s Centre for Entrepreneurship provides office space and infrastructure, mentoring and also administers a seed fund. The Centre has incubated 23 companies so far.

The entrepreneurial culture in non-metro locations is also pushing various institutes to build the eco-system. Coimbatore-based PSG College of Technology has set up an entrepreneurial park in association with the Department of Science & Technology and financial institutions to promote technology-based enterprise.

It has successfully graduated around 89 companies in the last 11 years out of which 60 are still in business. “The institute was a launch pad for me to not only develop the technology but take it to the market as well,” said G Rammohan, who did his masters in material science and business administration from PSG.

Rammohan, who incubated his firm Vestige Technologies at PSG in 2007, provides biometric and electronic tagging technology solutions for tracking assets, jewellery and manpower. The 20-employee firm, which has bagged many contracts from government agencies and the private sector, has reached a revenue of over 1 crore.

This focus on creating entrepreneurs is far from new. The Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) was set up in Ahmedabad in 1983, with sponsorship from financial Institutions such as IDBI Bank, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and IFCI. The sole aim was to create new entrepreneurs and providing additional training for businessmen who are already running businesses.

“Entrepreneurship can be successfully taught like any other discipline,” said Dinesh Awasthi, director of EDI. He said EDI’s curriculum focuses on imparting knowledge, skill development and building on inherent aptitude. Awasthi said a little over 69% of EDI’s students are successfully managing their own businesses.

According to Awasthi, EDI has created “an ethical entrepreneurial mindset, coupled with entrepreneurial competencies”. For providing further support to students, IDBI, in collaboration with SIDBI, is offering collateral-free loans up to 1 crore, especially for EDI students.

Career Launcher, an education service provider, has set up the Indus World School of Business (IWSB) in Noida in 2008 to bridge the gap in enterpreneurship education. While the Institute offers campus placements, the focus is on entrepreneurship and the institute has about a dozen start-ups incubating at its labs.

Ankita Gupta is one of the many IWSB students who are already running ventures. She is part of a project selling affordable sanitary napkins to women in more than 20 villages in Uttarakhand. Gupta has collaborated with a local innovator, who has developed a machine that can produce 2,000 sanitary napkins in a day.

Vipresh Sharma graduated from IWSB in 2010 and started an organic product venture, Bhagwati Herbal Agro Solutions. The venture earns around 25 lakh per annum in revenue. “Other B-schools mainly talk about how to run an organisation, but here I learnt how an organisation can be developed,” said Sharma, who is the first member in his family of farmers who has studied beyond class seventh.

While experts, lecturers and students agree that practical training is important, most say that classroom-based theory also has its place in entrepreneurship education. Rohit Prasad, who heads the Centre For Entrepreneurship at Management Development Institute (MDI), is of the opinion that some basic aspects can be taught in the classroom.

“Subjects such as accounting, managing human resources and legal points to consider while setting up a company can be taught in the classroom,” said Prasad. “Classroom courses give the basic knowledge on how to create an enterprise. Practical training adds to the theory,” said Mahabala.

Almost all experts concede that such education might not create entrepreneurs immediately. “It takes time for an Institute to start creating entrepreneurs,” said MDI’s Prasad. “It is wrong to expect that start-ups will quickly be created by colleges that have a focus on entrepreneurship in their curricular and extra-curricular programmes,” said Laura Parkin, CEO of NeN.

“The skills imparted in an entrepreneurship programme is useful in a regular corporate job as well,” said Rishikesha T Krishnan, professor of corporate strategy and policy at IIM Bangalore. He added that the institute, which currently has an elective in entrepreneurship, is planning to make entrepreneurial thinking a compulsory module in its flagship MBA programme.

“Entrepreneurship education still has a long way to go. We have not yet started creating a large number of good entrepreneurs,” said C Amarnath, professor-incharge of IIT Bombay’s Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE). However, “those who want to become entrepreneurs will get there with or without specialised education,” he said.

With focused classroom programmes, interesting practical experience and the right support system, entrepreneurship education can give students a clearer picture of how to become successful entrepreneurs.