Tag Archives: Tell Tale

peek-a-boo: Entrepreneurship and my escapades


This article was written for ‘Vishwakarma’, the annual magazine of Vivekananda Education Society’s institute of Technology
(VESIT). Apart from the editor’s request, the article was written to promote the spirit on entrepreneurship in my capacity as co-founder and promoter of The VESIT Entrepreneurship Cell (tVEC) established in Feb,2008.
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Since the start of Feb,2008, there has been a lot of ‘buzz’ about entrepreneurship in the lands of VESIT. The launch and inception of The VESIT Entrepreneurship Cell (tVEC) finally took place after nearly four years of float-hood. Does it mean that VESIT has been hit by the entrepreneurial wave that’s spreading the world over? Have VESITians discovered a new career alternative that is poised to aid India becoming the next superpower?

The answer to those questions depends on the attributes of the aforementioned ‘buzz’. I decided to mingle with fellow VESITians to find out what exactly were they thinking about tVEC after the various smses, emails and word of mouth messages that were sent across inviting them to join in for a couple of activities and to apply for tVEC Associate without a formal orientation. Here are a few responses in random order:

“I got a 70% and the highest in my class is 78%.I don’t think I should engage myself into any activity now onwards.”
“I want to join in as an associate for tVEC, can you tell me something about this ‘society’ and what exactly is entrepreneurship?”
“Would I get a job through this organisation?”
“Why should I join in, what’s in it for me?”
“Keep up the Good work!”
“I’d like to interview an entrepreneur; it’ll be like an IV!”
My whole class is suddenly obsessed with flash cards and CAT! Where are the wannabe entrepreneurs of our batch really? Are there any at all here?”
“Aspiring for a better life is an entrepreneurial quality. I guess the whole class is on the right track.”

This experience taught me the importance of having FAQs on the website(tvec.vesit.edu), which was achieved immediately. However, this space should be used for a better purpose and so I’d rather focus on the brighter picture: A peek-a-boo on entrepreneurship and my escapades.

Enterpreneur:
Microsoft®Encarta ® defines him to be an individual who sets up and finances new commercial enterprises to make a profit; but I’d like to differ and define him as an individual who creates value and win-win situations by taking risks to optimise his resources. There is more than one way in which the term entrepreneurship has been defined, but each definition caters to the central idea of value creation.

I have an Idea but the bulb wont glow:

Entrepreneurship is often restricted to starting up a venture, so the first obstacle faced has to do with the idea. A student, who got four IIM interview calls, couldn’t see a point in associating himself with an entrepreneurship cell because he doesn’t have an idea. I think this guy represents a fair chunk of the student population who stop because of lack of ideas. The irony popped out when Vishal Prabhukhanolkar (Director, TenADay.co.in, Quetzal Online) told me about the fact that most students ,making it to a top B School interview, express their desire to be entrepreneurs when asked about their near future plans ( and the others are trained to say so). There is indeed some ‘cool’ associated with entrepreneurship if it is the ideal career alternative, at least for an interview. We’ll look into this at a later point.
A famous adage goes like “When you are thinking of an idea, someone is already implementing it.”

It sounds very smooth on the first read but has loads of experience stored behind it; a few weeks back, I learnt this the hard way. My exasperation was heavily exaggerated when I saw my book trading portal concept (designed for VESIT), being implemented in Georgia Tech University and now graduating into a Facebook Application. I dug out the pamphlet that we had distributed to test the market 2 years back; the promotional contents also resembled each other. The next thing that struck me after this adage is a common piece of advice that every entrepreneur gives: ‘Seize the opportunity, and implement the idea’ i.e. don’t wait for the bulb to glow.

The above example also shows that starting up is not all about having an idea. (Four years of rigorously referring to’ substandard textbooks’ gives us a fair tip about getting ideas.)

Network to Connect and Collaborate:

An intriguing attribute of entrepreneurs is their ability to interact and build relationships on the go. This inherent characteristic differentiates them from those who lack the mindset. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia promoted the culture of collaboration (commercially known as user-generated content) in his recent visit to Mumbai. It is this collaborative effort that led to an avalanche in the accumulation of information that each of us use even for mundane causes. The habit of collaborating and growing is very prominent amongst entrepreneurs, which is contradictory to the bureaucratic introductions. All it takes these days is a couple of clicks on ‘Linked in’ and you get your man. tVEC is experimenting with tVECTribe, an online virtual network to facilitate collaboration amongst students, alumni and faculty (tvectribe.vesit.edu) .

Timing the Plunge | Should I work for some time?:

The idea looks awesome. You think it is the need of the hour. The team is pepped up. The finance jugaad is not a worry. The picture is rosy, yet there are doubts .It’s absolutely human and normal to feel so. The big question is to worship Nike (‘just do it’) or give a second thought?
How one tackles this dilemma depends on the strength of the entrepreneur’s character. If you keep thinking twice, you might find your idea in a Georgia Tech. On the other hand if you ‘just do it’, then there is a chance of meeting the fate of ‘aTEEtude Inc.’-another escapade!

I floated this venture with two friends: a designer from Sir JJ Institute of Art and a management undergraduate. We provided designing solutions in paper projects and T-shirts and set our eyes to compete with greats like Tantra and design sweatshirts for every college/university. Just out of the 12th grade, starting up was more of a glamorous fad than a well thought of plan; it had more to do with the cool, associated with advertising and branding than the much required supply chain building. We realised our follies and tried to improvise; bagged a few orders (including my class t-shirt) and moved at a slow rate; but it faded away, it had to, as it was just a passing fad that taught us a few tricks.

‘Floating the idea is an essential tool to test it’
I experienced this while working on my ventures and interning at start ups. My most recent intern stint was at MagNet Technologies, a 10 year old start-up, where I was evaluating the techno commercial feasibility of a VOIP based enterprise telephony system- Another shot at float- to- test; but the here I got to learn a set of seasoned tricks for testing the feasibility of the idea.

The underlying idea is to get hands on experience. Practical learning (entrepreneurial or academic) doesn’t happen reading TechMax Publications or Vidyalankar notes, it is via work experience (internships and floating ventures) that one learns the tricks of the trade; moreover they also help you in evaluating your future path. The question is whether to learn driving in your own car or at the training school?

Mean Machines are passe now.

TOYOTA PRIUS

I really can’t say whether it is Just in Time manufacturing or sheer brilliance that gets Toyota another hit : PRIUS .
Prius is a hybrid built from scratch unlike most other cars which have hybrids as evolved models.
NYT reports that Toyota has already recorded a sale of more than 400,000 in such a short span of time.
It is such a
phenomenon that its brand value is metaphoric with the yellow, blue , white “Live Strong” rubber wrist bands.
Currently the
PRIUS is priced at approximately $22k and is poised to give a mileage of approximately 50 gallons per litre.



THE iPOD OF CARS


The FIAT
Cinquecento is coming back!
The
Cinquecento was the Elvis of its times and if it FIAT has its way, the new version of this three-door car to be launched at its 50th birthday will be the ipod of cars (are you there Mr Ghosn? And yes Mr. Jobs, you can certainly stick the feather)
Cinquecento (earlier , the FIAT 500) was akin to MUL’s 800 in terms of bringing about a market transition from two-wheelers to affordable 4-wheelers. If rumours have it, its going to be priced at approximately $ 13.5k
Well if its gotta be the
ipod of cars the it needs to be presented atleast like a Yashraj flick and Fiat knows how to do this well and beyond.In addition to the exterior design of the Cinquicento ,they’ve come up with this uber cool portal that boasts not only of a chic and sexy look but is also loaded heavily with stuff that’ll get the ooohs and aahs out of the first time clicker.
So
heres me signing off quoting the website punch-header : “500 wants you”
(I want her too, 500 times :P)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are solely the author’s and are subjective.They are not intended to influence,offend or hurt anybody living or dead.The articles may have a tendency to be satirical and or sarcastic.

Tryst with Paper Dance

Microprocessor and Microcontrollers(MP) is just three days away, and yet I go to this alumni reunion of my school, well I had to just because I’m onto its OC. So what’s the big deal with Mp? Umm.. nothing much, just that its a core electronics subject which had more than 30 chips (not wafer chips…those computer processing chips my friend) and expects the student to know them in and out for him to build up an intelligent device. An intelligent device is one that performs its stipulated function and responds to any external interrupts that are high on priority.
I started pretty late for the event with my guilt eating half of me and the other half being eaten by my apprehension over the crowd turnout. Well, both my halves were eaten up successfully as the guilt peaked looking at the mediocre crowd turnout. To top it all, the a/cs went out for some reason and folks started cribbing. Most of them preferred staying out of the banquet as it was cooler. The guilto meter(GM) alarm blew.

One of the OCs intervened the “Even-I’m -the-bollywood-badshah” DJ ,who dint have the courtesy to accept the crowd’s response while turning the tables, and announce the start of the most sought after game on the party: “PAPER DANCE”.

All the wannabe kids let out a roar (believe me none of these roaring ‘lions’ came down to play).
This cousin of a close friend of mine came up and dragged “cute-looking” Sid who was chatting with me. Some time later she came back and tried to drag me for a friend of hers… but hey girlie me ain’t as light as your partner. I went away as my guilt-o-meter had reached almost fsd (full scale deflection) and on top of it I was supposedly the organizer: naah I cant really play eh.

Finally she managed to convince me and to my WXYZ-ment the girl knew me already (guess I was popular in school). So here begins the plot:

We are supposed to dance on a piece of a broadsheet daily which folds every time the music stops and yeah its my first time on the game.

THE FUN BEGINS…

Partner(P): You know to dance na?
BL: (to himself:) WTF…. (to her:) Well I don’t think you need to dance in this game, do you?
P: (giggles)
BL: So what do you do?
P: Me? A li’ll bit of salsa…
BL: err, I meant in life…in general?
P: Oh! I’m in the third year and I’m preparing for my MBA. What about you?
BL: Well I’m doing my engineering in Electronics.
P: Engineering! I thought so.
BL: Great (Wonders what made her think like that…to his rescue the music begins)
P: Hey make sure you are on the paper
.. I don’t want to lose the game.

The music stops and its time for the first fold:
The situation is manageable. BL is not concentrating on the game thanks to status of GM. Suddenly something strikes: Man, I dint ask the girl if she was comfy dancing with me!(like I do every time)=> GM almost at FSD.

Music stops again. BL wonders how to manage on a quarter of the broadsheet.
Suddenly it strikes: Hey it was she who wanted to dance with me… so she might be comfy.
Guilt reduces. GM pointer turns to the left. Confidence is back. GM pointer reduces again.

BL :Ill stand on the paper you keep you right foot between mine and the left foot on my foot.
P: Does some movements.
BL: Nah your right foot between mine not your left.
P: Hey that’s my right foot only.
BL: Holy Christ! This is your left foot.
P: Does engineering does this to you. THIS IS MY RIGHT FOOT!
BL: Umm.. err.. yeah actually. so dumb of me. that’s your foot to MY RIGHT ..hehe (BL feels like a moron…GM reading rises.)

The round goes amazing and BL is on a high. Now its half of the quarter! Only BL can stand barely fitting on the paper.
BL: Well, what do we do?
P: Lets stand each on one foot and hold your partners other leg to balance.

BL tries and succeeds in failing. Looks at Sid who had his partner in his arms several feet above the ground. Looks at P. Thinks. Thinks again. Chucks the idea due to his sprained biceps.
P insists on her idea but then BL doesn’t like failing again and moreover that style put BL in an awkward position.

BL gets innovative and asks P to get on his back (Vikram Betaal style) but sadly BL finds that the dimensions of his feet are such that they dont fit on the paper.
BL and P walk out patting each other :”Hey it was a nice game!”

Now that I have The guilt-o-meter (GM) At Null deflection I have written about it calm and cool.
Scrolling up I feel guilty again for writing so much for you to read (Gm pointer moving to the right….BL clicks “publish” before FSD)

ACKREDATION

[You need some time in peace to get this one right]
That is how the term accreditation has been conveniently phrased by the junta on my campus. The term was on everybody’s tongue-tip and was used as blatantly as possible. It spiced many a conversations and salted a few fights, sparked many a rebels and hopefully should give many of us a chance to wish the college admin.: “HAPPY REALIZATON !”

Well, when the branch in charge walked in to announce the dates of the accreditation committee’s ( hereafter referred to as Ac-Comm) visit to the college the students were more than just elated, but sooner did we realize that this was just a façade. Three days before the Ac-Comm’s visit, the college suddenly seemed to beat the rate of change in the computing industry as every minute something totally new came up in the 5-storey building. I wonder what Gordon Moore would have said on that!:

MOORE”S LAW BEATEN DOWN:

Split a/cs, direction signboards , boards boasting about the college vision and mission, departmental details outside labs, charts and time tables within labs, new aquaguard installed in the canteen and other aquaguards being connected to the respective coolers, a building being painted in record 2 days, the quadrangle floor being leveled overnight, some lecture rooms and labs being painted from within, journals being corrected instead of being signed, assignments and test being given and done for the heck of it, power peons and bais beginning to smile exhibhiting courtesy, colorful curtains started flying on the lab windows to save the students from heat, the ‘neelkamal’ types plastic chairs being swapped by the plush red springy-spongy movable chairs for the lecturers (err sorry, profs), new equipment being imported fast and how into the labs , the student council being shown and explained the college accounts, student representative committees being formed and trained to present before the Ac-Comm., certificates being collected from students to boast about a branch (sigh , lemme breath a bit.) .

Yeah I was a part of one such training meet and was also among the selected students to be ‘presented ‘ in front of the Ac-Comm.. And this is where the PSEUDONORM lies:

FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH:
Acredation is as important to us as it is to you (yeah, rite who gets to hike the fee?) from your point of view you would get good employment and better companies would some on campus (haven’t you learnt a new trick?), a better brand of the college would be created in the industry(there you are). No the fee structure and acredation are 2 different aspects altogether there is no connection between them (I think we’re the first one’s this morning) Don’t worry, all these are budgeted expenditures [we are not looking for a ROI] (There you’re, chor ki dadi mein tinka. Boss if all of the above are budgeted then was your finance officer sleeping these years, or was he training in book-keeping?) . Now when you meet the committee, you have to behave and speak well about the institute ( Buddy,we’ve got ample matter to speak more than just well about the insti.). If you find that there is scope for improvement in certain areas tell them that you have approached us and the matter is being looked upon (is there an equivalence between ‘upon’ and ‘over’?).

THEY CAME THEY SANG AND WE (GOT) BANGED:

Then there was the D-day and came the Ac-Comm. full of IITians and NITians,their background was sufficient to send shivers amongst all of us. Yet , I found many of the staff members more than just confident but one of them had predicted the fate which is yet to be declared as he has seen what it is to be groomed in a college of caliber. For A change students saw their teachers giving a viva. Our princi was taken aback when asked about the existence of a sexual harassment cell (She mustn’t have thought about it as she always banks upon the ‘culture’ that the college seems to be preserving {at least on the vision statement}). A girl fainted when the committee shot a question at her, but many others answered brilliantly to the committee except this BE kids who were placed in the Digital Design Lab to show off that project work goes on and eclipse the SEs from the committee. The Ac-Com guy straight asked him what they were doing in somebody else’s lab during lecture hours, and then came their viva which was enough to squeeze out their smartness for life. The SEs in the ECAD lab tackled the questions well thanks to their foundation laid by this very amazing prof of ours, however they went dumb as the Ac-Comm guy struck them with realization on this question “Is this what you pay 54K for”, he said pointing at the chain of 4 dusty computers with non-funct mice!!

The comment was enough to strike a realization amongst the masses: that we are the true proprietors of the institute as students. The lack of this realization is the root cause why we have been living through power peons and being treated as prisoners. A student walking in late has to wait for an hour with the watchman, then he’d be pulled out of the lecture room for a lecture with the princi on time management and culture preservation. But before that, he’ll have to assure the prof in class that his train wont run late the next time ( yeah, my pop owns the railways !). Fed up with the new recruits in college who teach to gain work-ex for an MBA, the student cant go home nor can he study in the library, all he has to do is jump of some wall to get back home and study in peace- making him a robber in his own damn house! A cultural secretary who has to literally beg the admin to allow the students to have a JAM session which apparently goes against the culture add to it the justification of a cultural festival in an engg college: these were the things that the Ac-Comm were lookin for as they were smart enough to judge acads and infrastructure. I know this is not new to you if you’re a fellow student, but there is a lot more to it if you’re not.

I hope this rebellion arisen by the Ac-Comm, takes some shape ( I think the BEs are the best one’s to take initiative here) and we do something to be proud of the institute when we refer of it as our Alma Mater!!