By Siddhant Nag:
Nestled in the concrete jungles of Delhi, is the beautiful IIT Delhi campus, harbouring ideas, perseverance and vast amounts of passion. On August 20, we at YKA made our way to this dream campus for our next #MyStartupStory event.
The third of its kind, these workshops attempt to make this initiative useful for budding entrepreneurs. At these events, those interested, get to learn about stories of other entrepreneurs and different aspects of ‘starting-up’, along with receiving expert advice on using social media channels like Facebook and Instagram to scale up a business.
And so it was at IIT this time, that Vishwakarma Bhawan played host to executive MBAs, automobile engineers and students of multiple disciplines from IIT, all looking to gain insights into the fascinating world of entrepreneurs.
First up, we had three entrepreneurs from diverse industries discuss evolving business models, scaling up, selecting the right sales channels, and more.
I had the pleasure of moderating this discussion, and I flagged it off with a question to Rashi Narang, Founder of HeadsUpForTails, whose business had evolved since our last conversation in April, with new product lines, fresh funding and an eye for larger markets.
We also had CA turned shoe entrepreneur Devika Srimal, Founder of Kanabis, who spoke about her progress with her niche vegan footwear brand. In our pursuit of catalysing entrepreneurial progress, a new pioneer had joined us – IIT Delhi alumnus Ritesh Singh, Founder of Eckovation, an app-based service that integrates all stakeholders of education on one platform.
HeadsUpForTails had a shift in the way it saw itself. “I want it to be more than just a pet shop, it needs to be an experience for my customer,” said Rashi, who is now focused on building her company’s new vertical – Tail Lovers Company into an international pet store chain. Devika stated that for her products, she uses a hybrid approach of offline and online components, at times, strapping shoes onto potential customers herself!
By being hands-on during a purchase, Devika gets instant feedback and forges a deeper bond with her customers, which helps the brand create more traction through word-of-mouth.
Our third panellist Ritesh, hailing from Chapra, a town in Bihar never actually envisioned himself as an entrepreneur! Once he started studying at IIT Delhi and was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, soon enough he was asked, “Yeh toh (entrepreneurship) theek hai, asli job kab karogey?”.
However, Ritesh observed that with the support of government policies and growing penetration of the Internet, these narratives were quickly changing. An interesting nugget he shared was Eckovation’s participation in Facebook’s ‘FbStart‘ programme, which gave his company access to technical assistance worth lakhs, Facebook credits and advice from a community of mentors and like-minded entrepreneurs.
A universal sentiment across panel was this – businesses must constantly adapt to its consumers and prevalent market conditions. And on that note, we moved onto the next session.
Pranay Gupta, Co-Founder of 91Springboard, an alumnus of the IIT and the IIM, ran a session that was less of a talk, and more of a simulation! Like any well-mannered guest, he also brought a special gift along – Arpit Agarwal, the principal at Blume Ventures, to offer insights into the investor side of things.
Pranay kicked off the session by pretending to throw 30 lakh rupees to the audience, putting them in the investor’s shoes. A playful ‘jugal-bandi’ between Pranay and Arpit followed, with attendees receiving insights both from an entrepreneur’s and investor’s perspective. Arpit brought to light an important insight from the investor side of things. “Investors prefer hockey curves, to linear graphs,” to which Pranay quickly retorted, “Everybody thinks their growth is a hockey curve!”
— Siddhant Nag (@SiddhantNag) August 20, 2016
— Siddhant Nag (@SiddhantNag) August 20, 2016
In the style of a well-scripted play, Pranay also assumed the role of an entrepreneur, asking Arpit the exact questions that plague every entrepreneur: “What does it mean to have a great team?”, “Should I drop out of college to Start-Up?”, “Is it important for my idea to be scalable or profitable?”, “Should I meet as many investors as possible or go for the ones suited to me?”
Our audience comprising of IITians posed an eclectic mix of questions to the duo.
The audience was packed with engineering professionals now pursuing Exec MBAs looking to start up. They asked interesting questions from when to startup to moving away from engineering through entrepreneurship #startupstories #MyStartupStory #businessonline #businesses #entrepreneurs #entrepreneurship
This Q&A more or less resulted in a crash course on all things funding that too from someone who has led over 40 investments in startups and helped 15 raise follow-on rounds. From assessing an investment by looking at growth curves to identifying the right investor, Pranay and Arpit brought much value to the table.
Facebook’s Ritesh Mehta was up next, using impactful data and examples of high-quality content, to talk about how entrepreneurs can leverage Instagram and Facebook for business.
Ritesh from Facebook: Instagram is a great place for discovery so make sure you post great pictures of your products. It’s not a place for just creative businesses. Focus on the composition of every picture #businessonline #businesses #entrepreneurs #entrepreneurship #startupstories #MyStartupStory
A photo posted by Youth Ki Awaaz (@youthkiawaaz) on
The focus of this session was to help users communicate effectively through a visual medium, and ensure user-acquisition by posting high-quality content. He also emphasised the need to focus on a single objective for a piece of content to achieve; which celebrates the feel of the brand and its uniqueness.
Whilst questions from the audience, were aimed at Facebook’s larger vision, ideals and stand on trending issues, the session retained the essence of Youth Ki Awaaz’s and Facebook’s collaboration – an honest effort to give the entrepreneurial energy of the country some wings, through knowledge, advice and a big chunk of inspiration.
In case you missed this workshop, #MyStartupStory will soon be back with the next edition. So, watch this space. In the meantime, if you believe you have a compelling startup story to share, write in and tell us your story!