Facebook And Youth Ki Awaaz Organise #MyStartupStory At Maharaja Agrasen And IIFT

Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #MyStartupStory, Facebook and Youth Ki Awaaz are coming together to help you scale your business. Share your startup story and write to us if you want to host a workshop in your college!

After I turned 4 and started going to school, anyone I would meet would ask me the question – ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ To every person, I would give a different answer – because I was fascinated with everything new I would come across. My ideas ranged from having a daycare center for dogs, having my own clothesline, and running a bakery because who doesn’t like cakes.

‘How do you realize that an idea has the potential to be scaled to be a business?’ – did not clearly worry the 4-year-old me. But this is a question many young people budding with great ideas seek the answer to. When is a good time to start pursuing your business idea? Am I simply reinventing the wheel? What if I fail miserably? Where should I start and what should my first plan of action be?

In hope of answering these questions, the second edition of #MyStartupStory, a series of interactive workshops, hosted by Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook are back – this time in colleges and campuses across India. With job markets and employment models evolving at a fast pace – entrepreneurship, aided by the Internet and social media, is playing a critical role in job creation and economic growth.

The idea behind these workshops at colleges is to build a space that cultivates ideas and fosters innovation. The #MyStartupStory workshops aim to create a stepping stone towards building a culture and ecosystem where all ideas find the space and support to grow.

This year we kick-started the workshops at Maharaja Agrasen College and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. The workshops saw some great conversations and insights, from both experts and upcoming entrepreneurs. The event was conceptualized by FB and YKA in a manner that helps students and young entrepreneurs with best practices and relevant strategies.

2017’s first #MyStartupStory workshop was held on 4th March at Maharaja Agrasen College and was attended by over 80 students pursuing courses in advertising, journalism, and commerce. The first session saw an informative exchange of ideas and learnings from young entrepreneurs: Muheet Mehraj, Founder – Kashmirbox and Devika Srimal Bapna, Founder – Kanabis. The conversation kick started with the eminent question – Why and how did these two decide to startup and how did they see the startup ecosystem?

(L-R) Muheet Mehraj and Devika Srimal Bapna, Students of Maharaja Agrasen College.

From finding the passion and faith in your idea – to building the right team – and choosing a business model that works best for you – it was interesting to see how these two e-commerce entrepreneurs are finding their niche and scaling their business.

Through the course of the conversation, Muheet highlighted the importance of finding the right mentor. “The kind of business I was trying to build didn’t exist in MBA books – you need to go by trial and error and see what works.” Devika spoke about the challenges one faces in always ensuring that your product is up-to-date with the changing trends – “Fashion is fickle, sometimes it’s difficult to assess the market and the demand and think how to keep the business running at all times.”

One of the questions posed from the audience was directed at hiring the right people – “How can you convince your team to believe in your idea and hence find the right people?”

Both Devika and Muheet echoed the sentiment that to build the right team – “You need to dream together as a team. You need to motivate people, value them and make them feel important. Money isn’t as important as motivation to keep the team together.” In addition to this, both include all their workers and staff in all meetings to bring in inclusive and diverse ideas.

In response to a question on the role educational institutions in life and business, Muheet highlighted-Your degree doesn’t define if you will become an entrepreneur – all your experiences and learnings will help you. The kind of faculty and environment plays a key role in your support system. Don’t think that a degree won’t help, but don’t the let the degree limit you.”

Once you have the idea and the perseverance in place, it’s time to introduce your idea to the world. Rajat Arora, Policy Programs Manager at Facebook for India and South Asia, took the next session on how Facebook and Instagram are no longer platforms that are used for only keeping in touch, but also communicating your business idea, finding the right consumers and effectively running the business.

Some interesting insights Rajat shared through his session that are universally valuable for all businesses:

  • Where to find your audience – As the world is going mobile and now moving to wearable devices, you need to build your presence where your audience exists.
  • How to build a great product – People buy the idea and the dream when they buy a product – your idea needs to be expressive. No idea is a silly idea. All you need to identify the idea and pursue it.
  • How can you leverage platforms like Facebook and Instagram for business – 3 trillion photos were shared on Facebook over one year – people look for content that’s visually engaging than reading long text. There was 616% growth in mobile video views from 2012 – 2016.

The next round of an equally interactive workshop was organized at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade on 10th March and was attended by around 80 students who are now in the final year of their MBA.

In the world of Starbucks, Barista, Costa how does a startup take on the world of coffee? The workshop at IIFT started with finding the answer to this question. Arman Sood, co-founder at Sleepy Owl in conversation with YKA talked about how he is building his brand with cold brew coffee.

(L-R) Arman Sood (Co-Founder, Sleepy Owl) in conversation with YKA, Arun Duggal (Manager, Coinmen Consultants).

While sharing his journey, he spoke about how he had to make a business plan to show his parents why he was quitting a career in law, before making a business plan for investors. “Always implement your idea with a Minimum Value Product. We pitched our product to restaurants – one owner took it up – we sold 1 bottle in 3 weeks. That is when we realized that B2B won’t work for us. We realized that we should go directly to our consumer and pivot to B2C. Keep observing the market, if the idea exists already – think how you can do it better or add value.” For Sleepy Owl – Instagram and Facebook really helped in reaching out to a bigger consumer base, and that’s where people 1st discovered them.

What followed next was a session by Arun Duggal, Manager at Coinmen Consultants LLP – on how to ensure your business is financially sound. Some key takeaways from this session that can be extremely helpful for someone starting up:

  • After your idea is in place, it’s important to figure how will you scale it. Raising money is easy but it’s important to ensure you find your financial stability and sustainability.
  • Once you raise funds – spend wisely and track your spending to avoid getting bankrupt.
  • Ensure that in your pricing you get your money’s worth.
  • Angel investors invest in the business idea and it’s potential. An investor sees what is the real opportunity in your idea. The idea has to be disruptive and a game changer!
  • Bootstrapping is an important stepping stone. It helps you understand how to cautiously spend money.
    The disadvantage of bootstrapping is that if your idea requires rapid expansion and growth, you won’t be able to sustain it for long.

The session was illustrated with several case studies and instances of how several big companies are now closing down because they were unable to manage their finances well and where they went wrong. The session ended with 10 things that can help you make an awesome pitch that no one can refuse.

Next up Rajat Arora, Policy Programs Manager at Facebook for India and South Asia, kick-started the session on using Facebook for business by talking about how Rashi Narang, Founder – Heads Up For Tails and Bayiravi Mani, Founder – Kol Kol Baby Carriers identified a problem and scaled their business in the market.

Rajat Arora, Policy Programs Manager at Facebook for India and South Asia, takes the session on using Facebook for business.

The idea is to access the market and access information using Facebook for business. As the economy is changing from production based to consumption based – Rajat talked about how Facebook can play a critical role in building your business. He also introduced FB start, a program launched by Facebook to help entrepreneurs access tools and share knowledge. “While Facebook helps you broadcast your message, WhatsApp can help you build one on one relationship with your audience/consumer”.

In response to a question from the audience on how does a startup build the same traction as compared to a rich brand that can spend nicely on social media; Rajat responded, “People buy experience, not products. Find your niche and see how you can market your USP and attract the right audience. No idea is a silly idea. All you need to do is identify the idea and be passionate about it.”

It was heartening to see so many passionate ideas and enriching conversations. If you too have a business idea or would like to share your startup journey, do write to us here. YKA and Facebook are also taking the #MyStartupStory workshops to different cities across India. If you would like us to host a workshop in your college or campus, please do write to us at action@youthkiawaaz.com