The era of entrepreneurs

The era of entrepreneurs

n over 60 years of India’s independence, we have witnessed a gradual transition in the society. With India’s growing supremacy on the global stage in the 21st century, it is the era of the entrepreneur. It is the entrepreneur in the shape of a Narayana Murthy who brings smiles to families of lakhs of Indians, in the body of Ratan Tata who makes a Nano to make travel simple. Let us explore the basics of entrepreneurship.

What is Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a state of mind — it is not a profession, it is not a business! It is about generating ideas, identifying an opportunity, creating solutions and reaching to customers. It is about creating a difference rather than creating products. When Narayana Murthy decided to start Infosys, he did not do it to create good software — it was to create the software industry. The first step towards entrepreneurship is to realise and identify your inner potential and strive to achieve it.

How is it different from being an employee?

The employee’s attitude is “CAN I” — Can I do this? Can I go there, Can I modify company policies and Can I launch a new product? The entrepreneur’s attitude is “I CAN”.

Why is entrepreneurship growing now?

There are more than two crore Indians who run their own business, whether in cities or in villages. Fifty per cent of India’s population is below 25 years of age. The country’s GDP is growing by less than eight per cent after years of two per cent growth rates, with nearly half of GDP contribution coming from entrepreneurs. The other factors include access to Internet and telecom, success of Indian entrepreneurs globally and ease of starting a business in new industries like mobile, education and health.

Future of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is here to stay, survive and thrive — and all of us can be enablers in this revolution. Let us give our youth a year to prove themselves and we will see the real India rising. Our future

heroes will be social entrepreneurs, agro-entrepreneurs, defence-entrepreneurs and more

The nitty-gritty of start-ups unravelled

Ideas don’t excite Amit Grover, founder of Nurture Talent Academy, India’s first training institute for entrepreneurs. Understandably, as the 32-year-old’s only job/hobby/muse, which he does with panache and a lot of passion, these days is to hear out sketchy proposals of aspiring businesspersons and help give it a shape. “I’ve heard so many ideas. Some of them are very basic and some extremely complex like 3D gaming, video analytics and customised advertising. I’ve listened to so many business plans that an idea as such doesn’t interest me. What I love is to see people who have passion, are willing to quit their jobs and start a firm. I want to support them,” says Grover.

An alumnus of IIT-Delhi (2001) and IIM-Indore (2005), Grover’s first brush with entrepreneurs happened when he joined Mumbai Angles (A network of angle investors) in 2007. At the same time, Grover was working at Mirc Electronics — popularly known as Onida — as an executive assistant to Gulu Mirchandani, the firm’s chairman and managing director. His primary job was to manage new initiatives, check out their feasibility, coordinate with R&D, analyse sales results etc. “I was in the chairman’s office and responsible for the overall strategy of the firm. I used to take care of any project that could not be assigned as a regular task to the operations team,” explains Grover.

Turning point

His three-year stint at Onida (2006-09) was a turning point in Grover’s life. This is where he met Sasha Mirchandani (Gulu’s son and MD of Blue Run Ventures), a key player of Mumbai Angles. During the weekends, Grover along with Sasha, Prashant Choksey, CEO of Choksey Constructions, and other angle investors used to analyse potential start-ups for investments. “I used to meet entrepreneurs, see what they have, fight with them, negotiate etc,” says Grover. “People used to discuss their business ideas. But they would be clueless when asked about their business plan, marketing strategy, competitors and funding options. People had a good understanding of their core area but in business you need a lot of things to fall in place. If you’re meeting an investor and not telling him how much money you need then you’re wasting each other’s time.”

This is when Grover realised that while entrepreneurship is growing, people are making a lot of mistakes, which they ideally should not due to lack of training. “It’s not that the entrepreneur is not good or his idea is not workable but neither has he run a business in the past, met an entrepreneur nor did he study at an IIM,” explains Grover. “Even in IIM or IIT we were never taught on how to start a company. We were given training on how to run a large company with the given resources but the basics of how to get customers, how much to pay, how do you start a venture and what kind of investments are available were never answered.”

Academic gap

Despite a growing number of entrepreneur cells (e-cells) in various institutes, the stress is never on entrepreneurship. Academicians largely focus on how students can reach the top of the corporate ladder quickly, get a good pay package at a reputed MNC and so on. However, the going has never been so positive for budding entrepreneurs. India’s GDP growth is nearly 10 per cent and a lot of Indian start-ups like Makemytrip are doing well. The risk of doing business has also reduced — people feel they can still get a job if the venture fails.

However, the society’s perception of entrepreneurship hasn’t changed. “When I started my mother was supportive but there were few relatives who wondered if “Onida ne nikaal diya kya (Did Onida throw him out)? You can only laugh. The perception of working in a large company has its own glamour.”

Grover hopes to further the start-up boom by grooming first-time entrepreneurs. In January 2010, Nurture Talent Academy was set up in Mumbai and over 70 workshops attended by 1,300 plus entrepreneurs have been conducted across 23 Indian cities till now. Grover has also conducted workshops at IIT-Delhi, Bombay, Rupnagar and Kharagpur, IIM-Kozhikode, IIITM, Gwalior, MNIT, Allahabad and Thapar University, Patiala.

Brush with experts

The baby entrepreneur, as Grover describes himself, conducts interactive workshops that includes a bit of information sharing along with an opportunity for networking. Grover usually invites an entrepreneur/investor to share their experiences with the participants. More than 150 people have spoken at these workshops. Grover has been able to rope in corporate bigwigs like Sasha, Rajesh Sehgal, Rajiv Dadlani (angel investors), Sanjay Kulkarni (MD, Stern Stewart India) and Shantanu Surpure (managing attorney, Sand Hill India Advisors). “The purpose of getting experts to talk is not networking, it is to give real guidance, the real picture and a practical sense of doing things,” says Grover. “People may not believe Amit Grover but if the same thing was explained by an expert, you tend to accept and pursue it in a far more positive and realistic way.”

Students, working professionals and young entrepreneurs have attended his workshops. “Most of the time it is about how to make a business plan, marketing, research, cost of doing sales, team building, how to get finance, working capital management, cash flow analysis, accounting statements, etc,” explains Grover. Typically it costs around `2,500 for a day’s workshop and `1,500 for half-day. “I attended the workshop to get an overview of how the trade works. Other than my core expertise, which is design, I don’t know much about setting up a business. I was glad I could interact with people from diverse backgrounds — an artist was also present. It gave me the right perspective,” says 30-year-old Swati Santani, who attended the workshop in October in Bangalore and runs Working Radius, a furniture design firm. “Grover gave a detailed explanation of how to calculate prices and how to manage finances. I got to know what was missing in my business plan,” says 27-year-old Summaiya Aslam, who runs the ad agency The Blue Pen. “Now, I’m able to guide my employees on how to close a deal.” Hyderabad-based Aslam attended Grover’s workshop in January.

A year’s journey

His first workshop — a month-long one (Grover had initially planned a lengthy course module, which he downsized to attract more people — people want short programmes where their questions are answered, he says) — had only one student, Tushar Gaurav. Twenty-nine-year-old Gaurav, who was working at a data centre wanted to open his own firm, so he linked up with Grover. “While I knew my target group, I needed to understand other aspects of business like cost of the product and where is the money going to come from, hence I attended the workshop,” says Gaurav. “It streamlined my thought process. Such courses are essential. You meet diverse people with whom you exchange ideas. The academy doesn’t show you a pot of gold but makes you realise your strengths and weaknesses.” Gaurav went on to start Ria Info Solutions and was also lucky to get Grover on its board.

Nurture Talent Academy’s second workshop had three people but within a year the number increased to 35. Getting participants was never an issue for Grover. Through Google ads, posts on websites dedicated to entrepreneurs and alumni networks, Grover was able to spread the word. The challenge was to get expert speakers but his database of over 8,000 entrepreneurs was more than adequate. Though Google’s success inspired millions, Grover prefers to narrate Indian stories. “I want to highlight the Indian entrepreneurs and their success stories, so I talk about Makemytrip, India mart, Myntra, etc — they’re like the guy next door, so you could also be like him,” says Grover.

Future plans

Grover’s immediate goal is to inspire and train 1,000 people to start businesses that will create nearly 20,000 jobs. His ultimate goal is to transform the academy into a large talent pool. “I don’t want to start a campus or degree programme. If we make it too formal and structured and say this is the only way to become an entrepreneur, it will actually kill the spirit,” he says. “I want to be the first person to connect with an entrepreneur at the time he’s thinking about it. When they grow, Nurture Talent grows. An entrepreneur needs mentoring, advising, training, consulting, sales training, investment, incubation, legal and audit filing — these are some of the services I hope to offer at some point. The businessmen who go out of these workshops will come back as experts/investors and share their experiences with other.”

Relationship continues

Most of the participants keep in touch with Grover. He’s like a call centre — a helpline for aspiring businessmen. People keep calling him to discuss ideas and network. “When you start a venture, a lot of fronts open up simultaneously and it’s important to know how to prioritise things. This, I learned at the programmes,” says Rajat Kirtania, 39, who attended two of Grover’s workshops and runs Unimax Telecom.

Grover is on the board of three companies. He has a eight-month-old son Ashwin and wife Sona. Nurture Talent Academy also conducts online workshops. More details at www.nurturetalent.com

— nithya@newindianexpress.com

You can become an entrepreneur too!

Amit Grover believes everybody can become an entrepreneur as long as one is willing to sacrifice certain things. “It’s like love and when it happens you can do it,” he says. “I was meeting entrepreneurs everyday and when you meet Shah Rukh Khan everyday, you want to become a Shah Rukh Khan. The date it happened, I understood this is what I wanted to do my whole life. From then on, I never felt the need to go back to a job.” While there are no qualities that define an entrepreneur, we asked Grover to list out what he thinks are the essentials. And they are:

■ Have an objective. Keep moving towards it

■ Offer what customers want

■ You need to have the tenacity to continue. Around 80-90 per cent give up after encountering the very first roadblock

■ Energy — An ideal entrepreneur has limitless energy, which is required to achieve his vision. This energy allows him to overcome any fatigue, competition, challenges etc

■ Ability and passion — an entrepreneur cannot survive only on passion or ability to do things, it needs to be a combination of both. There are lots of people who are capable but lack passion. While others are passionate, they lack the ability to realise their dreams

Finally, this is Grover’s advise to budding entrepreneurs. “Spend 100 days with your idea. It’s like your wife. And after that if you don’t have answers for questions like market size, competition and team members, then don’t jump into it. You need to balance your excitement against the maturity of being an entrepreneur. Please don’t venture out if you have home loans or other liabilities.”

India’s entrepreneurs ‘speed-date’ to find new partners

By Rajini Vaidyanathan BBC News, Mumbai

It is 0900 on a Sunday morning, and a group of 15 smartly turned-out individuals are already making small talk and introductions.

An early weekend start might not seem like the most fruitful time to pick up a partner, but that hasn’t deterred today’s participants.

They’re all here to attend one of the country’s first “entrepreneur dating” events, designed to help people in start-ups find “the one” to go into business with.

“I’m looking for people who I will click with,” says Malay Keria, a business graduate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai (Bombay).

Mr Keria is here seeking people to help him realise his dream of setting up an online event management company.

“I want to find people who can be part of my team and have some views on my ideas and can help me with the business,” he says.

Mr Keria is one of a growing breed of Indians looking to start up new ventures. As the country’s economy continues to grow, so does its appetite for entrepreneurship.

“The biggest challenge is getting people who are serious about joining a team,” says Viraf Tavadia, 37, who is here to find people to help him expand his online personal fitness company.

The fact that everyone attending today has paid a fee of around 2,000 Indian rupees ($44.40; £27.80) to attend is a sign of their commitment, says Mr Tavadia.

Breaking the ice

The “entrepreneur dating” event has been organised by a company called Nurture Talent, which aims to train and develop Indians with entrepreneurial spirit.

It is run by Amit Grover, who is today’s “matchmaker” chairing the events and also encouraging participants to mingle and break the ice.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
Retailscape

In the entrepreneur ecosystem, it’s tough to find someone on your wavelength … to form a team”

Manish Shukla CEO, Retailscape

The day-long event features a number of sessions, all designed to allow participants the chance to test the chemistry with potential business partners.

After initial introductions, speed-dating gives entrepreneurs three minutes to chat to everyone and find out more about each other. And like the relationship concept it is borrowed from, they fill out a form rating each person they have spoken to.

Ideas seminars, described as “group dating”, also allow small groups to discuss potential ideas and business strategies.

The sessions are running in various large Indian cities such as Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.

This one, in Mumbai, drew a crowd with diverse business backgrounds – students with ideas they want to get off the ground, investors, long-time businessmen, and even a doctor who was looking for help with his anti-ageing skincare business.

None of the participants at this particular session were women. However, Mr Grover says events in other cities have drawn some female entrepreneurs.
Building teams

Mr Grover says that while there are plenty of professional networking sites and events which are focused on connecting entrepreneurs in similar areas of interest, there are very few which work across different sectors.

“There is hardly anything which is focused on team-building,” says Mr Grover. “We are trying to get that dating session to be that platform, so they can connect with each other with the specific agenda of team-building.”

“In the entrepreneur ecosystem, it’s tough to find someone on your wavelength or understanding to form a team,” says Manish Shukla, the chief executive of Retailscape, a retail consulting company.
Entrepreneurship dating The event aims to foster business matches rather than romance

Mr Shukla, who started his business 15 years ago, is here as a mentor and says there needs to be more support for today’s entrepreneurs.

“India’s not been too good at entrepreneurship in the past, because business has been more about a survival kind of mode. Now, economic progression means more people are creating something larger than themselves,” he says.

So how successful are events like this in helping entrepreneurs as they start on their business journeys?

“I’ll definitely be calling a few people afterwards,” says Amit Kumar, who was here looking for some partners to join his healthcare venture.

For Mr Keria, the event was useful too. As he hastily swapped business cards and shook hands with two other participants, he said he believed he’d found people who could help him get his company off the ground.

For others, such as Viraf Tavadia, the event was useful and enjoyable, but didn’t yield any prospective partners.

The organisers say they hope to hold more of these events and believe they are an effective way to harness entrepreneurial talent.

“We’re hoping after today some of the people will take things to the next stage and work together,” says Amit with a grin on his face.

Like with any good matchmaker, there’s nothing more rewarding than being at the start of something big.

Entrepreneurship 101

I have traveled 25 cities since January, 2010 and if there is one thing that I see even with my eyes closed, it’s the progress of entrepreneurship. India is no longer a baby on the world stage of business, it’s a grown-up marching ahead, and the youth of India are leading the charge. The 80s and 90s, when most of us were born, was the period of trials and errors – economy was opening up, internet was introduced, telecom sector was de-licensed and national highways were under construction.

Flashback over – come to present scene!

There are 85 crores mobile connections in India! Nearly 50 national highways criss-cross the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari! The Sensex has gone up from 3000 to 18000! And names like Facebook, twitter are no longer strange words. Nearly 50% Indians are below 25 years of age, and this is the power that will decide the destiny of the nation. And what does this generation want? It does not want jobs under someone else – it is not the “CAN I” generation, it is the “I CAN” generation.

What is entrepreneurial attitude?

When we were kids, we were taught “CAN I” as good manners – can I go to toilet, can I play now, can I take a holiday … This is not what entrepreneurial attitude is, it is about “I CAN” – I can create a business, I can be on my own, I can build a team, I can launch a product and get customer. It is about taking your destiny in your hands.

Steps to entrepreneurship

The first to entrepreneurship is the idea. Once you get an idea what you want to do, look at execution plans – who are the customers who will use what I build, what are the products I will give them, how much will it sell for, where to get customers, how to build a team, how to manage finance issues etc. My suggestion is for all of you who wish to start – take a 100 days test. Spend the next 100 days trying to get answers and take concrete steps towards starting your venture – if you are still in love after 100 days, then go ahead and start up.

About the Author

Amit Grover is an individual with a passion for entrepreneurship. He is an IIT Delhi and IIM Indore graduate and founder of Nurture Talent Academy. He has worked with Infosys, Asian Paints and Onida before starting his own venture for training of budding entrepreneurs. Amit is a Guest Blogger at Let Me Know.

Nurture Talent Academy is pleased to announce a unique opportunity for all India college students to learn, share and grow their entrepreneurial skills. Starpreneur – our campus ambassador program aims to build a community of young students who will be the brand ambassadors of entrepreneurship in colleges all across the country. Check out the details below.

Be the star in your campus – Be a STARPRENEUR!

Nurture Talent Academy is looking for college entrepreneurs. Here is a great opportunity for you to represent Nurture Talent Academy and get noticed as a leader of your campus and join the elite group of leaders from campuses across the country. To top it off, you will gain experience that will last a lifetime.

What will you do?

Our StarPrenuers will connect Nurture Talent academy to their college entrepreneurs and students in order to help their ideas to shape into scalable businesses. You’ll host workshops, throw events and build relationships with students, faculty and professionals. You will collaborate with the Nurture Talent Academy team to run entrepreneurship awareness programs on campus. You will be interacting with industry experts, successful entrepreneurs and peers from across the country. Best of all, being a Nurture Talent Academy’s StarPreneur is more than just a college job. It’s a chance to get your resume off to a good start. How great is that?

What does it take?

Energy, enthusiasm and passion for entrepreneurship. An understanding of entrepreneurship and the know-how to spread the word by leveraging campus events. It takes a leader- someone who can inspire peers and work with campus organizations.

Apply for becoming a STARPRENEUR by sending an email to campus@nurturetalent.com

**Last date for application: 30th June, 2011, 23:59hrs

**From every college one STARPRENEUR will be chosen

**Selections will be done on a first come first serve basis

FAQs

Will I get a certificate for being a STARPRENEUR?

Yes. Nurture Talent Academy will give you certificates for your work stating your accomplishments and performance. Your appointment as STARPRENEUR will be for a duration of 1 year and certificates will be awarded on 30th June, 2012.

Will I be paid a stipend?

No. Nurture Talent Academy has taken this initiative to raise awareness about entrepreneurship and build the ecosystem conducive for students to start their own ventures. We do not have any intention to make any stipend arrangement for the STARPRENEURS. However, STARPRENEURS stand an opportunity to gain a lot in terms of experience and exposure that will in turn give them an edge over their fellow classmates.

Am I eligible?

Any student of your college from 1st year -4th year is eligible only if you have the flair for entrepreneurship in you.

What benefits is a STARPRENEUR entitled to?

A STARPRENEUR would get free passes to all workshops/ events/ sessions/ conferences organized by Nurture Talent Academy and its partners. A STARPRENEUR will be entitled to continuous expert mentoring support to take his/her idea to the next level.

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