IIT Gandhinagar conducted Online Mentorship Program for students with entrepreneurial interests
Gandhinagar: Creating a marketplace to help businesses and students to outsource their prototyping requirements, a device to detect car accidents and alert the emergency services, and a platform to connect labourers in unorganised sector to those who need their services are among the startup ideas generated at a month-long online mentorship program conducted at IIT Gandhinagar.
‘Entrepreneurial Mindset 101’ for students interested in exploring the world of entrepreneurship and startups was conducted by the IIT Gandhinagar Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IIEC) between April 30 and June 02, 2020, to equip students with the fundamentals of the startup world. 23 B.Tech, M.Tech, MA Sc and PhD students completed the program, which was delivered by Mr R A Venkitachalam, a startup mentor, active angel investor and Former Vice President, Public Safety Mission, Underwriters Laboratories, Bangalore.
‘Entrepreneurial Mindset 101’ was outlined to take students through the journey from opportunity identification, assessing its potential to building a scalable business model. Over the four weeks, it covered various concepts from goals and the idea of entrepreneurship, to risks and rewards involved in a venture, through different discussion and evaluation sessions. This helped students to conceptualise ideas, self-validate its potential, and understand the nitty-gritty of converting an idea to a viable business.
The students also had the opportunity to interact with a cross section of entrepreneurs, including some of the IITGN startups from earlier batches [Whitepanda, GeoCarte]. Angel Investors like Mr Bhupen Shah and entrepreneurs like Mr R K Misra [Yulu Bikes], who also addressed the students and shared their experiences. Mr Hemant Kumar, Entrepreneur & Faculty IIITD also interacted with the students.
After the first week of sessions when the lifecycle of a startup was discussed, the students formed eight teams and started to work on ideas of their choice. The ideas ranged from solutions for providing legal and financial education to vehicle parking, sports coaching as a market place and ‘Make in India supply chain’.
Each of the teams presented their ideas to a set of expert faculty and other groups multiple times over two weeks, iterating and improving each time based on feedback. Key resource personnel Mr R A Venkitachalam and Mr Hemant Kumar conducted one-on-one discussions with each team. Introducing an element of ‘gamification’, each student team had a virtual money fund of Rs 10 lacs to invest in other student team ideas based on their assessment. The final presentations took place on June 02, 2020, with Mr Piyush Shah, a Startup Mentor and Mr Paresh Vora, Director of Win Foundation, as guest evaluators, who along with the IITGN resource team, provided feedback to sharpen these students’ skills and focus on their ideas.
Underlining the importance of entrepreneurial attitude among the young minds, Mr R A Venkitachalam, key resource person and developer of this program, said, “Entrepreneurial Mindset is vital for success in the emerging world, be it as an entrepreneur or a career executive or a bureaucrat.” This program was aimed at exposing the students to identifying challenges in the environment, attempting viable solutions, testing them out and learning in the process.
The program motivated students to see the current global challenge as an opportunity to work on technology/ solutions/ ideas that can create a positive impact on society, and encouraged them to begin by doing preparatory work, understanding the fundamentals, and most importantly, assessing their capabilities as individuals and as teams.
Sharing his experience from the program, Sai Srishal, a final year student of B.Tech Civil Engineering at IITGN, said, “I always aspired to become an entrepreneur. While the days were getting boring and workless during the lockdown period, EM101 created a perfect platform to develop our ideas and other entrepreneurship skills which would certainly help me in my further career. This course helped me in learning different aspects of converting an idea into a startup and developing my pitch. We interacted with other entrepreneurs and got their suggestions and perspectives. The team from IITGN mentored us with their whole passion.” Sai worked on a startup idea for waste segregation and management along with his team member Snehith Chakka.
IITGN and IIEC will continue to mentor the students and teams to advance their ideas.