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

Entrepreneurship

–        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)

Deterrents

–        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.

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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

TYE : Stoking Entrepreneurial Spirit among School Students and Youth

TYE awards ceremony - stoking entrepreneurial spirit among youth

TYE awards ceremony – stoking entrepreneurial spirit among youth

It has always been inspiring, meeting the young brigade from schools, who are keen to explore the possible opportunities that exists around them. During the TYE sessions, as part of the program, in teams, they have to identify a potential opportunity, do market research, create a business plan and then embark upon realizing the idea in a small way. If they can prove the potential, they will certainly capture the imagination of Angel investors. At the end of the program, the graduation ceremony acknowledges and facilitates the talented youngsters. I addressed the principals, parents and youth who had assembled for the felicitation function.

TYE program has been designed, anchored and facilitated by IWSB for the last three years.

‘Rangtoli’ of reflections on human emotions and aspirations – Parents’ day at Mallika and Nandu’s NSD’s theatre summer camp

Mallika and Anandita at the NSDs summer theatre workshop

Mallika and Anandita at the NSDs summer theatre workshop

Mallika was insisting on my not going on a tour till Sunday, June 5th, as I was scheduled to visit North-east India. Her NSD summer workshop, Rangtoli, has scheduled parents day and since Indira cannot make it due to her delivery a week ago, she wanted me to be there at any cost. So I deferred my trip by a day. Mallika and Nandu, along with Uma and me, landed at their NSD summer workshop center in Jamia Milia, prompt at 7:30am. Mallika and Nandu have been very secretive as far as revealing the parent day details. They would say, “We will not tell you, it is all going to be a surprise. You only discover when you come.”

When landed at the center, we were welcomed by the spectacular display of the works of the sixty children, 30 each from age groups 8-12 and 13-16. The works included caricatures with descriptions on different topics – My room, Most precious part of my body and why, My family and also their expression of feelings in words in the form of a letter to parents about why they are the best parents, how they feel towards parents response to their behaviour and outlook in life and so on.

Youngsters expressing their feelings to parents

Youngsters expressing their feelings to parents

I cannot express the feelings every parent went through, looking at each of the letters. Many parents were feeling very emotional going through the pictorial descriptions and also the letters written by the elder children to them. They were surprised at the eloquence with which each child shared their inner feelings towards their parents. As the letters did not reveal who is the writer, parents were guessing which letter is of their child, reading through the narration of an incident which they were part of. In the process, almost every parent read every letter. Every parent was touched going through each of the letters. These letters threw a lot questions about the struggles of a child in the adolescent age and what they are expecting from their parents. It was a great way to bring the parents in touch with themselves and the impact of their actions on the psyche of the children. Here are a few of the expressions..

After an hour of getting in touch with oneself, the parents were clubbed in groups in innovative ways. We went on to have a wonderful string of exercises that not only warmed all the participating families, but also familiarized most of us with one another. These exercises included –

a. In the enclosed space, walk at normal speed, slow speed and faster speed; while walking greet one another in whatever way you wish to. Then go on to maximize the greetings
b. Participants to form various clusters by likes – colors, flower, animals, fruits.. in the process every one got to know who all are alike in what respects
c. Random groups to be formed. Each group needs to think of a flower and form the shape of the flower. Other teams have to guess. Then the group has to enact how the flower blossoms, shakes when it rains, celebrates etc…
d. Each of the three groups were asked to make an elephant. Then these elephants had to do different actions as was shared by the facilitators…

Once warmed up and familiarizing oneself, we moved to the next phase of the day plan. Every child had made an invitation card that parents carried. So my invitation card made by Mallika had a pattern cut, and one of the children in their group had the pattern. Once you match the pattern, the child who had my pattern, Sheena in my case, became my facilitator for the day. Two to three families with their facilitators formed a group. We had to interact and get to know about each other families.

We were asked to close our eyes and my facilitator, Sheena, lead me along a path that was jig-jag to a destination. The exercise was about trusting one another and I felt really happy that I surrendered myself to Sheena and she lead me wonderfully. Finally at the destination she asked me to sit and after a while lie down and relax. While relaxing there were tender hands that was massaging my legs and arms and I could make out that it was Sheena. After a while a strong hand came and massaged, this could only be one of the adult trainers of NSD. Then finally there was another pair of hands that went all over the body, straddling, across while massaging and I could sense that this has to be very familiar person who has known me ever, that is Mallika. After half an hour of this relaxation exercise, I was ushered by Sheena to another destination with my eyes shut all the while. She helped me settle in one corner against the wall. I could hear and feel that others are being brought in to this room and helped to settle too. Finally we were allowed to open our eyes. The room was full of parents, forming the outer ring along the wall and the children were sitting in the center of this ring.

Parents shared their feelings about the whole day thus far. Many were obviously moved by what they read on the display and the tender massages they received. They were emotional and shared how this workshop has thrown open new dimensions to their relationship with their children.

Parents exploring children and themselves

Parents exploring children and themselves


After the feedback and sharings, we moved to the final stretch of the day. The groups thus formed, seven in all, each were given a situation to enact. The condition was that the adults have to be children and children were to be adults. The groups were given about 15 minutes to plan out before all assemble in the same room. A performing arena was demarcated and all groups settled in the audience spaces. Each group was called to perform. The scenarios included..

a. Children are getting spoiled; no idea what sort of friendships are being cultivated
b. Children are lazy and they neither understand the parents nor they help them
c. Children do not study and they are stuck to TV, computers and play-stations now a days
d. Chaotic family
e. Understanding family
f. Children misbehave when you take them to a marriage function
g. Children taking care of old parents

It was fun as well as learning experience interacting with other families and planning the skit. Many of the women and including a few men, were participating in such an exercise for the first time. It was a great experience for them also to open up and come out of the cocoon. On the other hand there were a few who were very uninhibited and were in acting with felicity.

Each episode was enacted and then all participants discussed the issues – as how do we make the environment better for the children at home. The process did throw quite a few thoughts and many parents took away new ways of dealing with situations and their children. It also made many parents aware of their responsibilities towards their growing children and how they can go about investing.

I came back and sat next to Mallika, after our group enacted the scenario – children getting spoiled. She was staring at me. I asked what was the matter. She immediately said, “you are a bad boy, you are spoiling others.” I could see that she did not expect me to portray such a character and does not approve of my dalliances. Nandu said that I was very funny..

With this exercise, the parents’ day came to an end. All parents were delighted to be there. I am sure the day would have thrown a lot of questions to each parent to ponder about and respond in a better way to children.

This one month NSD’s theatre workshop would make a world of good for every selected child, Since this workshop is all about helping children to come in touch with their inner journey and external journey, with oneself and their behavioural patterns, with their securities and insecurities.

Long live NSD, Long live TIE – Theatre in Education. Kudos to NSD’s facilitators. Kudos to children. It was truly a ‘rangtoli’ of reflections on human emotions and aspirations.

B-school grads growing @ scorching pace in young and fast growing companies!

An article written for media, that was asked off me. I am not sure when it will be published, but I have done it here…
—————————————————————————————————————–

India as a nation has progressed leaps and bounds since the commencement of economic liberalization in 1991. Today we are eleventh largest in the world in nominal GDP and fourth by Purchasing Power Parity at exchange rates. If you look at these two decades of economic growth, it has been, solely, due to the rise of various entrepreneurial endeavors in this country, primarily in the services sector and especially in IT and ITeS sectors including BPO, and to some extent in the manufacturing sectors of pharma, biotechnology and automobile.

In the IT sector, though a TCS, an Infosys or Wipro have been in existence even prior to liberalization, they took off vertically since the 1990s with ITeS and BPO dimensions adding up. But the real contributor for the scorching growth in this sector was large number of start-ups that happened post liberalization in the last two decades adding to the numbers of Indian multinationals!

With over half of the population still employed in the agricultural sector and about 80 percent of the economy still being unorganized, the potential untapped in India is huge. The entrepreneurial zeal that has steamrolled the services space of IT and ITeS in the last two decades, has already started showing its impact on other spaces like financial, real estate, education sectors, and there is a renewed interest in the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises).

Scorching pace of India’s economic growth forecasts the nation reaching second position in the world, vis-à-vis GDP by 2050. To make it happen, the progress has to be across the economy, that will impact per capita front too, pulling it up from the current 127th position. We need to create over 100 million jobs. If I were to quote Mukesh Ambani, “about 20 million jobs will get created every year for a decade or two.” Where will it be? Certainly not in the large corporate, but thousands of MSME. The next two decades will be decades of entrepreneurial leadership in this country.

What do all these amount to, for a B-School graduate?

Most of the B-school graduates neither have an idea when entering the B-school, nor when they pass out, what their goal is and where their future could lie. They get into an MBA, because they heard that the ‘life-after’ is secure with a handsome salary! They only think of joining a Hindustan Unilever, P&G, Citibank or Reliance. Many do join them but get disillusioned very soon with their days starting at six in the morning and ending at eleven at night, especially if one is in a large metro, with recognition hardly to come by.

The economic meltdown of 2009 did change the perspective a bit, when many failed to get the jobs, forget about jobs with ‘BIG’ bucks or Big Brands! With no choice, quite a few opted for the young and fast growing companies and are sticking to these, realizing how the prospects are far brighter in these companies. With the same amount of effort they might have had to put in at larger organizations, the recognitions came flying faster and the jumps come quicker in these young companies, the moves have been very minimal.

Being a B-school graduate myself, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, when I look at the last two decades of the progress many a friend of mine has made, there is no question that the future of the nation and also the future of management graduates lie in the young and fast growing companies. Quite a few of these companies, that are making waves in the services, financial or even manufacturing spaces in the last decade, have been started by youngsters and experienced alike, with a compulsive vision and they managed to attracted quite a few of their friends to partner in their dreams and partake in the growth. Many quit large corporate, even from abroad, and moved to these fast pacing enterprises.

For every listed fast growing company that has been founded in the last fifteen years like – IndiaBulls, InfoEdge(Naukri), Educomp, MakeMyTrip etc. – there are many unlisted ones like NetAmbit, Career Launcher, Valuefirst, The Smart Cube, Candid Marketing and many more even younger enterprises that are being toasted by their customers and the market alike. They are showing high double, if not three digit growths, unlike the large corporate who are moving at a low double or even single digit growth. These organizations have a great appetite for growth and are still in the early stages of their upward curve, as their services are catering to huge mass markets with compelling value for large population. These fast growing companies seek entrepreneurial leadership material to hire, not limited to B-school graduates.

When I talk about entrepreneurial leadership, I am not limiting to entrepreneurship. Yes, certainly I will talk about being an entrepreneur in a while, but even to excel in other enterprises – like the larger ones or the aforementioned fast growing ones – you need to be entrepreneurial in thinking and also in acting, especially in the current competitive scenario. You will be notice, and you will be in demand.

Entrepreneurial leaders are transformational and they relentlessly pursue their infinite potential. Typical traits include –
– Ambitious and often first movers
– Keen eye for opportunities
– Challenge conventional thinking
– Shift paradigms; create new insights
– Healthy appetite for risk
– Relentlessly push the boundaries of possibilities
– Assume full responsibility of outcomes
– Change the rules of the game
– Conscious of their role for the betterment of the society

If one is entrepreneurial, in the young companies that are nimble-footed, one gets integrated soon, gets greater responsibility, freedom and accountability. One has the entire canvas to himself to paint, and the painting gets recognized pretty soon. The ladders are drawn for one to climb quick and take higher roles.
As an entrepreneur myself for a little over a decade, especially one who has been into education and in particular helping B-school aspirants, I have been following the stories of those who have been excelling in the entrepreneurial arena and also mentoring many youngsters who are entrepreneurial leadership material. I do get invited to speak at various forums, including leading B-Schools, to push the young graduates to think big. My annual lecture series – Dream It! Do It! and Think Big! Start Small! have been much sought after and I travel across the length and breadth of the country addressing 20-30 thousand youth every year.

There is no question that the future lies here, is amplified by movements like The Indus Entrepeneurs (TIE) and National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), promoted by the ‘whose who’ of Indian Business, that are engaging B-schools, university campuses and even K-12 school students. During the last three months, Indus World School of Business (IWSB), a B-school that has made name in fostering entrepreneurial leadership, has been proactively supporting an endeavour of TIE in running a programme, TIE Young Entrepreneur (TYE) for school students of grades 9-12. So the nation is catching them young!

We have many an example in – JUMBOKING Vadapau by Dheeraj Gupta in Mumbai; FOODKING by Sarath Babu in Chennai, Saloni’s DESICREW in Tamilnad, Nirmal Kumar’s G-AUTO in Gujarat, Shweta Chari’s TOYBANK in Mumbai, Kaushalendra’s SAMRIDHI in Bihar, Ishita Khanna’s ECOSPHERE in Spiti, Prashant’s BAMBOO HOUSE in Hyderabad, Rajeev Kher’s SHRAMIK SANITATION in pune, Jaydeep’s RENAINSSANCE AAKAR Ventures in Delhi, Vipresh’s BHAGWATI HERBAL in Aligarh – most of them are endeavours of B-school graduates, that have commenced their operations in the last few years and are leaving a mark on the firmament of the nation. The endeavours such as these that are going to leave a lasting imprint need entrepreneurial leaders to take them to the next orbit.

Let me give a couple of examples. Arif Hassan, of class of 2010, IWSB, joined a young fast growing NETTPOSITIVE in Bangalore, a business analytics firm, promoted by an IIM Alum. Arif, within a couple of months of joining, has been given responsibility of a revenue center – India operations of a Swedish client in m-commerce and mobile payment services. Rajeev Kher of SHRAMIK SANITATION, that is producing portable toilet solutions to help half of the Indian population that is not having access to toilets, is always on look out for entrepreneurial B-school graduates. Asad Akbar, another class 2010 pass out, says that his decision of joining young setup like CORETREE in Hyderabad, is paying rich dividends, in the sense that he has been entrusted with higher responsibilities and freedom to add value to the organization by being part of core teams.

Do the remunerations stay behind for taking greater responsibilities? No, never. IWSB, a B-school, which focuses on placing students in the young and fast growing companies, in its maiden placement season has notched a respectable average salary for its class of 2010, at Rs. 5.64 lakhs per annum and got placed among the top-10 B-schools in the country on return on investment – average salary upon fees paid. That shows where the future lies.

In this last decade alone, the emergence of young entrepreneurs and their contribution to the national economy is quite visible in India. This trend is here to stay. If you are B-school student or for that matter any one, and have a desire to excel, desire to take greater responsibilities and grow faster in life in every sense – learning, materialistic, financially, spiritually – the best place to start your journey now is in the young and fast growing companies. Who knows from taking the challenges that go with such growth centric organizations, you may learn so much in quick time that, you may even wish to start something of your own. That is always a welcome move for you and for the nation too. Jump into this ocean. I am sure even before you realize, you will be swimming quickly and may go on to create your own world, that the world will be very proud of!

Entrepreneurship in Action

This article is an outcome of a questionnaire that Economic Times asked me to respond to, on entrepreneurship and Career Launcher’s endeavours in the entrepreneurial space….

Do you think “India has market for entrepreneurship?” In what ways can entrepreneurs add to the Indian economy? What kinds of entrepreneurs are you looking at? Rural? Young? Retired?

If we look at the last two decades of dramatic growth, it has been solely because of entrepreneurship in this country, though it has been limited to IT and ITES. We have started dramatic shifts in the bio-technology space too apart from automobile and ancillaries.

We foresee next two decades to be time for entrepreneurship, especially social entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship that will make some fundamental shifts in the rural economy. With over 70% of population still working in agriculture, with 95% of jobs present in unorganized sectors, come to think of it, the country has been chugging along only due to small and medium entrepreneurs or agripreneurs.

Career Launcher has moved into setting up schools in the villages of India that not only promote inquisitiveness among children from very young age that eventually will lead to innovative problem solving for rural issues, but also use these school infrastructures for Community Enabling Centres that will impart technical skills, life skills and entrepreneurial skills to the youth apart from promoting indigenous art forms, artisans and communities.

If as a nation we start focusing on greater enablement of these groups and also promote more enterprising youngsters to move into these spaces, we will not only alter the rural landscape, but also stem the flow of population to the urban India that is bursting at its seams. At times, some wizened by age but young at heart also start their journey of entrepreneurship, and we welcome them too. So EDUCATION and ENABLEMENT of YOUTH, rural and urban, is the key and that is the direction to go.

Whom does Career Launcher partner with to promote entrepreneurship? Various initiatives that you have undertaken? Explain the partnership in Detail? What was the prime objective? How did the idea germinate?

Career Launcher, as an organization, always stood for ‘Inspiring Leadership’ especially entrepreneurial. Every individual who is inducted is an ‘Intrapreneur’ and we evaluate an individual for ‘entrepreneurial leadership.’  Our every engagement with youngsters in schools and colleges, either during the career planning / motivational sessions or when we go to recruit, we share our journey and also journey of many an individual who dared to create their own path.

 WE MENTOR PEOPLE TO ‘MAKE JOBS’ AND NOT ‘TAKE A JOB.’

Having been in Education space, we always looked at an ‘educationist’ at heart to be an ‘inspiring leader,’ who by his own performance and interaction instills the spirit in youngsters they come across. If we look at our entire educational facilitation and learning centres across the country, over 100 of them are created by first time ‘edupreneurs,’ none from any business family. We are witnessing some of these edupreneurs moving into mainstream education space too.

We are building a unique business school, IWSB (Indus world school of business. www.iwsb.in) that focuses on entrepreneurial leadership, more importantly social entrepreneurship. Right now as I am responding to your questions, there are about fifty students working with various organizations across the country in the social sectors, experiencing the real India.

SRIJAN, a business plan and incubation competition of IWSB, saw more than 250 young teams pitching with their ideas from across the country. The three month process went through regional rounds hosted at IIT Bombay and Delhi, IIM Kolkata, IISc Bangalore with eminent panels evaluating the ideas. The finals were held at IWSB campus at Greater Noida wherein top 16 ideas were showcased. We are in the process of incubating the top six winners who emerged after evaluation by panels that included Prof Anil Gupta, serial entrepreneurs Mahesh Murthy, Vishwadeep Bajaj, Hitesh Oberoi, a few professors from IIMs, mentors from department of science and technology, a couple of young CEOs and private equity funders. We are very positive that many of these aspiring entrepreneurs are taking the challenges of creating alternatives that will be of use to the common man.

We have initiated partnerships with central and state governments that will eventually lead to inspiring youth in the countryside start their own small enterprises. We are involved in revitalizing 20 ITIs (industrial training institutes) with various state governments. We see this initiative in a couple of years creating ‘entrepreneurial enthusiasm’ among the rural youth. We have been partnered by states like Rajasthan to create SKILL SCHOOLS to make youth of the state employable. We would like to make sure some of them turn out to be entrepreneurs.

We have started partnering with great entrepreneurial facilitators like TIE, SRISTI, Deshpande Foundation etc.

TIE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, a global forum for promoting entrepreneurship initiated by South Asian entrepreneurs from silicon valley, now with presence in over 12 countries of the world. In each of the summits, TIE creates opportunities for students and youth from various institutions to rub shoulders with stalwarts from industry and other sectors to interact, question, share and get inspired. For more check on www.tie.org or http://www.tie.com

NIF, National Innovation Foundation (www.nifindia.com) and SRISTI (society for research and initiatives for sustainable technologies and institutions (www.sristi.org), are initiatives of Prof Anil Gupta from IIM Ahmedabad, that have contributed immensely in unearthing the innovations across the hinterland of India, and have been taking a few of them to market place every year, not limited to India but across the world. It is our privilege to associate with such a movement.

Deshpande Foundation (http://www.deshpandefoundation.org), initiated by Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande, is invigorating grass root entrepreneurship in uttara kanara. Its work in fostering and promoting sustainable developmental initiatives is too exciting to be not associating with.

‘Partnering the state and central governments, along with like-minded organizations as stated above to foster entrepreneurship’ will be our cornerstone to empower the youth, urban and rural, to transform the REAL INDIA.

What kind of response are you looking at when economy is in Gloom? Kindly share a case study / testimonial.

It has always been observed that ENTREPRENEURSHIP BLOOMS when the ECONOMY is in GLOOM. Crisis begets the best.

A couple of months ago, I was in EAST CHAMPARAN, northern Bihar, considered to be one of the most backward districts of this country, during SHODH YATRA under the aegis of NIF. The aim is to unearth innovations from the countryside. It is no surprise that Mr. Saidullah, an elderly gentleman who has designed the amphibian bicycle, and awarded for innovation by none other than Dr. APJ Kalam, comes from this district.

We came across another gentleman, Mr. Sinha, who has developed a silensor for 14 KV generators that limits the noise pollution to just 5 metres and air pollution by almost 98%. He is being courted not only by some financial institutions to fund through NIF’s initiatives but also one of the large generator manufacturing company wants to manufacture his innovation to cater to large market that is just waiting to grab it. Mr. Sinha invested rupees six thousand from his pocket to innovate one piece, once it goes into mass production, the costs could dramatically come to three digits for the additional feature.

In the last couple of months many young men and women, who have been hitherto working for well-known corporates have quit all those ‘cushy’ positions to become edupreneures, started CL centres or initiating schools, and are dirtying their hands, right now so to speak, with a clear vision to make things happen.

So, many youngsters are restless to do something on their on, and they are looking at entrepreneurship very seriously. As a nation we should stroke it and make it happen.

How does your company assist the entrepreneurs when project gets approved by you? On what parameters do you evaluate the viability of a project?

Markets are always going to be there for innovations that can solve societal problems. They should be scalable and replicable. Indus World School of Business has an incubation lab that scouts for such people with ideas and passion, then invests and mentors if they are willing to dirty their hands.

We are always eager to strike or further our partnerships with entities like TIE, SRISTI, Deshpande foundation etc. so as to see that the ideas that emerge from corners of the country, from common men and women, find a place of pride under the sun and in the shelves of stores that each one of us walks into.

We are going to see many eminent entrepreneurs who have made their name in the last couple of decades jump into mentoring and funding young emerging entrepreneurial ideas, and we are definitely going to seek their help, co-opt them in our endeavours in this space.

For other organizations that intend to promote entrepreneurship, what advise do you have? How beneficial is partnering with local bodies / specialized institutions?

Good to have more organizations that is looking to promote entrepreneurship. I would like to confess that we ourselves are just ‘beginning’ our journey. It is a long and exciting journey and we would like to see as many jump into this exciting journey and swim even when tides are pushing one back. Partnering like-minded institutions will always help when the going gets tough.

“Careers in entrepreneurship are bound to catch up in India,” kindly comment

The whole of this discussion has been on this one sentence… Nation is waiting to explode entrepreneurially in every walk of life… let us facilitate it happen.

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Looking forward to your inputs and comments… sreeni@careerlauncher.com

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