“Chase the vision, not the paycheck, the money will end up following you”
– Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon)
Launching a new enterprise—whether it’s a tech start-up, a small business, or an initiative within a large corporation—has always been a hit-or-miss proposition. According to the decades-old formula, you write a business plan, pitch it to investors, assemble a team, introduce a product, and start selling as hard as you can. And somewhere in this sequence of events, you’ll probably suffer a fatal setback if you do not have the proper inspiration, R&D or execution.
This is why the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIT Kharagpur has endeavoured to launch a platform, entitled ‘E-Adda’, which will enable sharing of knowledge, experiences and networking between the startup community and the budding entrepreneurs on campus in a completely informal way. The introductory session of ‘E-Adda’ was held at Maitreyee auditorium on 13th March. The two major parts of the session were an interactive discussion between the students and the existing startups on campus, and ‘Hangout with an Expert’. The theme of the meetup was ‘Startup Lifecycle in an Indian Startup Ecosystem’.
The session kicked off with Rupak Kr. Thakur, a senior manager at E-Cell, explaining the need and concept of ‘E-Adda’. Describing the theme of the session, he mentioned that there is no fixed strategy for a startup, however the challenge of taking your own decisions, doing a thorough market research, planning your own business model and most importantly executing it, is completely worth the experience. This was followed by Rahul Raj, founder of Zaaika (an internet based platform which caters to the networking of restaurants and provides a complete solution to the hospitality industry), sharing his startup experience with the audience and answering queries.
The ‘Hangout by an Expert’ section had Mr. Abhimanyu Godara, Chief Manager at TLabs, a leading accelerator and seed fund for tech startups, joining us over a Google Hangout. An alumnus of IIT-BHU and London School of Economics, Mr.Godara has been known for applying his strategic and operational advisory skills in providing hands-on assistance to budding entrepreneurs in the start-up ecosystem. He has mentored a whopping 30 startups in the last two years. He went on to elaborate on the 4 stages in a start-up’s lifecycle.
- Awareness stage: It involves exploring opportunities, attending awareness/knowledge camps, indulging in hackathons, designathons, working with a startup etc.
Problem: Lack of proper facilities (infrastructure, curriculum) to support budding student entrepreneurs.
- Cultivation and pre-acceleration stage: This is the stage where you and a couple of your friends/co-founders have finally decided to start a venture. You have been bit by the entrepreneurship bug. This is the time to attend networking-based startup events such as Startup Weekends, Startup Saturdays, Open Coffee Clubs, conferences conducted by TiE, NASSCOM. Idea generation and networking is the key.
Problem: The events are of short duration, often not having a long-lasting impact.
- Acceleration stage: By this stage, a raw idea has been transformed into an MVP and further market research, business development and product development work is carried out with the help of accelerators and incubators.
- Growth stage: Stage where startups look for higher amount of funding to scale further. If all goes hunky-dory, there is a fifth stage as well. This is where you either choose one of the exit strategies-IPO, strategic partnership, mergers and acquisitions, buyouts or just keep on expanding, acquiring smaller companies and minting money.
Some pointers of his talk and the Q/A session which followed are:
- Academic institutions should have atleast a couple of compulsory courses on entrepreneurship in the 4/5 yr curriculum.
- Students should focus more on devising products/solutions which cater to the world beyond their campus/locality.
- One shouldn’t start-up just for the glamour associated with it. Success can only be achieved if we have a brilliant idea, and are passionate enough to take a plunge into an ocean of risks and elbow grease.
A video of his talk is available on the official YouTube channel of Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur.
The session came to an end with Rajesh Ranjan, coordinator at E-Cell expounding his idea for a startup in internet retail and initiating a debate on the future of offline retail stores. On the whole, it was a great learning experience and this makes us more excited about the future sessions.