Entrepreneurship at colleges. Whats Lagging?

A hearty congratulations to the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) for such huge awareness of entrepreneurship at the college levels. ..and All the best for Headstart and NASSCOM for their similar encouragement.

I am into my Entrepreneurship Resource Planning Cell, for the last 3 years, switching various roles, attending numerous seminars, e-leader workshops, meeting different people. I feel somewhere few things are lagging, not in the thoughts of the organisers, not in the thoughts of the students but inbetween it.

I shall site examples:

The first thing that we have learnt being an e-leader was “preparing a B-plan”. A student, entirely new even to the word “entrepreneurship” shall no nothing of it and why, and on what domains a B-Plan should be made. They end up making B-Plans just for the sake of making it, finally all loosing their interest, laughing at the entire system. I believe, the focus should be on skill building. Skill both in the domain, and communication skill.

How many of the teacher coordinators are themselves entrepreneurs? I believe when it all started, when we were in our first year, the teachers and students were at the same knowledge level. Teachers get entrepreneurship training, which they tend to forget after coming back and taking regular packed scheduled classes. They seem not to believe in the values they preach! It appears very preachy! The head of the ecell should be an entrepreneur himself. An entrepreneur might handle or mentor more than one ecells, but the students should be able to connect to the entrepreneurs and not to the teachers!

While developing a B-Plan, the idea is very required. First the person needs to know whether the product/service he wishes to establish already exists or not. If it does, what value more is it adding to it. The students need to know where to start from. An idea from a field can only come if you love the field you are working in. For example, a CSE/IT guy needs to know the latest technologies, things which are coming up, know in details as to find the opportunity, and then work upon it.

Well, the major obstacle to it is the mindset! The general thought policy is… get a job in the MNC, get a fat salary, stay with wife and kids, drive your HondaCity at weekened trip… be happy! At the time of marriage, the girls family asks -“Is the guy settled?” I believe regular sitting with real entrepreneurs with the interested students can help! and in a BIG way!

I believe, the best way may be what Startup saturday Kolkata is doing right now. Connect the dots!

1. There should be a direct interaction of the entrepreneurs with the students, once in a month meeting with the entrepreneurs, knowing what the market requires, discussing about the upcoming products of the entrepreneurs.. basically knowledge sharing with the students directly.

2. If we can remove the College’s name and the teachers from inbetween, it shall be better. For example, Durgapur shall only prosper and develop its ecosystem if we can remove the names – NIT, BCREC, BCET, DSMS, NSHM, ABS academy from it..and view students as only students.

3. If NEN or HeadStart or any XYZ wants to develop entrepreneurial ecosystem in say Durgapur, this might be effective:
a. name is XYZ-<city name>, approach colleges to host the event.
b. carry out regular (per month) TECHNICAL workshops. Technical not only refers to CSE/IT but also for the BBA/MBA students it can be numerous case studies.
c. Create a database of the students, keep sending the news letters via emails. Notify them of the upcoming events via emails/sms
d. Sub groups might be created, like XYZ for example – NEN-Durgapur-Computer applications… ie building a forum for only computer applications students, directly controlled by NEN.
e. Also have workshops on Leadership and softskills. (say, every 3rd month)
f. form small groups and distribute projects (definitely not all, but few). Projects of the startups. This can also be seen as short term internships and easy pocket money, and the students can also get to learn to work in a startup.
g. Then comes B-Plan development sessions, may be twice a year (max)
Then the students shall be able to know what value they are adding to the system, what the customer wants. And how to reach out for funding.
h. For the new students, an orientation session at the beginning of the academic year shall be good, only after the students settle down. I feel it is the second semester when things settle down, they are done with their first university exams, they get their freshers, get to know how stupid the existing syllabus is..
If we extend our hand , the students should take initiative for the handshake! For that they need motivation.

Please give your feed back. I feel we need to create one model and the rest shall follow and the ecosystem we dream of can be really made!

5 Comments

  1. Anirban

    its appearing quite preachy! But i feel, what I wanted to convey is conveyed – the idea to streamline and develop the ecosystem!

  2. Anirban

    I guess, if the students take up startup projects or even parts of it during their internship, as i suggested there, I feel they will grow the appetite. You approve of it?

  3. Anirban, when I met you at SS I found you to be a very energetic lad. You are doing a great work and you are the catalyst.

    On behalf of NASSCOM, I have a different prespective which I wanted to share with you. I usually ask most students why do you want to become an entrepreneur? Till now i have not got a proper satisfying answer 🙂 Preparing a B-plan is not the issue, the issue is something deep, and I no way blame the student community for this. “Business” is directly proportional to “market”. The term “market” is somehow not connected with the student community, so how can one expect a good and sustainable business plan? Passion is not the only criteria to be an entrepreneur. As you have correctly mentioned student community needs to interact more frequently with real entrepreneurs and the best possible way to do that is to join a start-up. They should be a part of daily challenges which these entrepreneurs are facing. So not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur rather be an “intrapreneur”. I have been telling students and many entrepreneurs to go out and mix with people, go to the various sabji-mandis and learn the real tricks of selling and understand the consumer behaviour. One can build a “solution” only when he/she knows the problem…and one can know the real problem only they go out and mix with people 🙂 85%-90% of the students passing out from engineering colleges wants to join an MNC….and out which 70% stays there for 2-3 years and then jump to another MNC for salary hike. Few leave their jobs to do MBA( which is a different issue). Only 5%-6% can really stay focused and climb up the ladder. By jumping from one company to another, their cost increases and thus startups and SMEs cannot afford to source them. The hiring cost increases and “projects” doesnot come here, it goes to Philippines 🙂 Then one fine day the so called “Professionals” think they want to be an entrepreneur without having a clue of real business(or market). Student community needs “Mentorship” more than “Placements” and here NASSCOM comes into action.

    Regards
    Aninda Das
    NASSCOM-East
    [email protected]

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