By Suyash Jain:
When I looked for an internship last summer, I didn’t think it would turn out to be a gateway to a future of entrepreneurship. I just took it up because I couldn’t sit idle for two whole months. As a student of business administration, I had decided to work as a marketing intern with a startup – mainly to get some hands-on experience and a 360-degree view of how a company really functions. That decision was one that turned my life around.
The startup was in Agra – a B2B mobile application called ShoeKonnect. Here, I didn’t just get a clearer picture of the marketing department, but also finance, business development and acquisitions. I was working and learning from people bringing about technological innovation, entrepreneurship and the footwear industry together. With a leg in every aspect of the business, I expanded my experience and expertise significantly during the internship – so much so, that two months into it gave me the boost I needed to start my own business. And that’s how InstaKhoJ was born!
Operating in Dehradun, InstaKhoJ is a one-stop information resource for students to find out about workshops, competitions and events that they can be a part of. A one-stop site to tackle all your problems and inquisitiveness regarding competitions can now be resolved at a single place, just a few clicks away from you. “Because, as I said, college is all about exposure”.
The portal features different events happening around the city, focusing on competitions that students shouldn’t miss out on. For event organisers, it works as a great platform to promote and market their events.
Like every journey, my entrepreneurial venture has its own obstacles. For one, there was the huge workload. Initially it was just me and the co-founder, Raghav Agarwal, working on the website. The backend work that needed to be done was far more than what two people alone could handle. We didn’t have the funds to hire a tech expert, back then. So we just had to learn to do it ourselves, at first.
By and by, we worked hard to recruit more team members. Without funding, we needed to find people who would work on a non-paid basis with us. It took us almost a year, but we were able to curate a team of six enthusiastic people who worked with us. Currently, we don’t have a strong revenue model, but we’re miles ahead from where we started out.
We’ve worked hard to build social media profiles on Facebook and Instagram to get the word out. More than getting the word out about our existence and how we operate, these are also great outlets for us to promote the events we seek to build partnerships with, and thereby build a strong network. On a daily basis, the team on the backend is working to add more utility for the users. Eventually, we hope to tie up with major colleges and universities in Dehradun to expand the events and activities we update on our website.
We also hope to diversify into different sections on our platform to cater to the different needs of students, and even look towards launching a mobile app for users. Finally, we hope to expand our base from Dehradun to other cities and benefit as many students as possible!
What I’ve learned from my journey is that in the end, it’s your passion towards the work that makes all the difference. And that’s what’s gotten me this far – even though I ‘started up’ without funds or the help of an expert technician!
All this would not have not possible without the support and belief of my brother, my mother (Sarita Surana) and especially my father (Sanjay Surana), who has always been my inspiration behind all this. I would also like to thank all my cousins – especially my sisters – who always used to help me, be it during the day or late at night.
It would be my bad if I did not acknowledge Siddharth Vij, Chaitanya Rathi (my all-time mentor) and Rittwick Visen, who have always guided me at various important discussions, whenever I needed them.
Furthermore, this wouldn’t have been possible without the team working with me. I would like to thank Raghav Agarwal (co-founder), Kritika Navetia (content writer and curator), Etqad Khan (public relations head), Wageesh Gahotri (VFX editor), Ankit Aggarwal and Saurabh Raj (graphic designing head), Abhinav Singh (sponsorship and external affairs head) and the many other people who are indirectly helping me make InstaKhoJ a better platform.