Posts Tagged 'entrepreneurship workshop'

The “artificial” entrepreneur

The question is can entrepreneurship be taught or is one born with the skill? There have been endless debates on this topic and one of my favorite discussions is here (you can follow the leads of different people mentioned in the discussion for more dope!)

My husband and I were having a discussion on this the other day. For me the answer is pretty obvious. One can have a lot of talent but skills are a combination of practice and opportunity. Ok, so I’m going on and on about my side and he sticks vehemently to his point that you are either born one or not!

So, I gave him a simple example to kind of drive the point home.  So here goes, I said imagine if in 6th grade instead of your arts/crafts class or any other class that you would have preferred to drop the school had given you an assignment to set up a lemonade booth and sell lemonade (you can substitute that for paav bhaji or pani puri, if you like) – what would you have learnt from the experience?
Imagine that in the next grade, you were asked to design and maintain a “cake stall” (slightly more complicated in operation and need for preparatory skill) and then in the next grade a restaurant and next, a chain of restaurants and for the final board examination, you had to submit a proposal and working plan for a “dream” company that you wanted to form and how you would get there?
Of course, you would have done most of it in a group, it would have been for a short while and the money could have been donated towards some benefit work. But still, imagine all that you would have learnt along the way in those years and how much insight it would have given you about yourself and about people around you. Imagine what it would have taught you about looking at opportunities in life, learning from mistakes, yet going on! Imagine how much it would have helped you understand how to dream and design to make them come true. It does not matter that in a few years/months your dream has changed or that you wanted to be something/someone different, what really matters is that you had a chance to understand it way earlier in life and that when you had the courage to execute it – you had the right mindset, attitude, tools and experience to go make it happen!
What say people, we need to encourage entrepreneurship being taught in schools – not as a subject as a practice itself?
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When Engineers Ideated on Pins

I did a session on ideation at PESIT in Bangalore, recently, as part of Nandini’s entrepreneurship course there. This was different from the last time when I did a session at SIMB. You can read about the session here. Now, we tried to play with certain ideation related myths and in the end also gave them an activity on creativity, what the bunch of students did was mind-blowing.

This time round, we also did some thought exercises around how to ideate better and how we tend not to share our ideas for fear of peer ridicule. It was fun, as the engineers found their own shortcuts into the exercises which proved to be even more deadlier than the finer points I was trying to drive in. At the end of the session, we gave them a task to get as creative as possible with 5 paper pins, some of them were given an agenda of thinking big and some of them were asked to keep it as personally relevant as possible.

The teams sailed through the next day with ideas ranging from making toys for children and using the pins for color and shape identification to using the pins to make flexible photo frames. Some of them used it more symbolically to make a circuit to represent the importance of adapting to change and some others used the meaning of pins (to support or hold together) to launch a website to help with social causes. Some very practical ideas ranging from jewellery to insulin shots (through capillary action) also emerged. One of the teams had a very interesting idea on using the pins to create a solenoid effect and light up a string of LEDs and use pins to create a 3D effect on a picture. The most funniest idea prize goes to the team which came up with the thought that they could use the pins to do acupuncture on fish to make them unconscious while being transported live and then bring them back to life through another acupuncture process. They had the whole class in splits for several minutes!

The whole class had a lot of fun and shows tremendous potential. Wishing them all the best with their entrepreneurial ideas!

Tie-ISB Connect 2009 – Part 1:Incubators

I attended the Tie-ISB Connect 2009 this year and to say the least, it was one of the most inspiring sessions I have attended in the recent past. Let me go over some of the highlights for those of you who missed and for the rest of us to keep pointers in mind, as we move on…(with the “rodent-sized memory” of ours – courtesy Siddharth of Rang De Basanti fame, during the panel discussion on Taking India Forward)

I will cover Incubators in this session. This was the first panel on JumpStart that was organized by Sanjoy Sanyal and had as panelists Nandini Vaidyanathan (Founder ForStartups), Sunil Maheshwari (Founder Mango Technologies) and Deepam Mishra (i2 India Ventures). All the three had incubators in common, where Nandini helps setup & run incubators in Engineering Colleges, Sunil was incubated in IIM-B and Deepam is trying to commercialize the technology present in our top-notch IIT labs.

The broad takeaways from startup perspective were –

1. Be ready to fail

2. Focus, Focus, Focus

3. Think big, thing different, think you – when you are solving a problem

4. And, last not the least, realize that incubators are good for money and the relationships  – everything else you need to do on your own.

Nandini went on to describe the ideal incubator as one that believes, funds, mentors and bridges (helps with networks) but the fact that no incubator perfectly does all of these shows that there is a lot of room for improvement. At the same time, her own efforst in this area and increasing awareness to spur entrepreneurship in the community has helped create incubators in engineering colleges that can help young startups attain success. You can read more about these efforst at her blog.

Next few sessions were around funding, growth, partnerships, next 800 Million Opportunities and taking India forward…that I shall cover in the next few parts of this blog series. In the meanwhile, please feel free to share your experiences, if you are looking to engage with incubators, please feel free to ping me.

PS: There is a 5 -day workshop on entrepreneurship being held from Nov 16-20th 2009 in PES School of Engineering by Prof Nandini Vaidyanathan and interested people should register before Nov 5th 2009.  Knowing Nandini, I would strongly urge anyone interested in entrepreneurship and startups to register and gain from the experience.

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