Colleges & Entrepreneurship in India - Trip to NIT Trichy

I love traveling. I love speaking. And traveling to speak - labour of love. Recently I went on to speak at Kamala Nehru College, Delhi and NIT Trichy.

The Entrepreneurship Cell

This was the second time I was interacting with Entrepreneurship Cell (E-cell) of a college (that’s about NIT Trichy).

I think E-cell is a great idea. You get to hangout with like-minded people, make connections, get to some work and bunk periods. But E-cell make business plans. And Business plans do not create a business. It’s far from reality.

In fact, what they learned by organizing this event - inviting speakers from all over the country - was a thousand times more valuable than the stupid ‘SWAT analysis’.

Let me tell you what they did: They brainstormed over who all could be called over as speakers, discussed, shortlisted speakers, reached out to them, managed their tickets & arrivals, managed to pull off an event (despite of power cuts). All of it in a budget. I guess they even had to spend some money of their own. Now that’s real deal; no business plan could plan that.

Entrepreneurship cells need more time on the ground reality, rather than business plan competitions. They can be gateway for students to a lifestyle choice - but there is a lot to be done.

The Business on Ground

I reached there a day before. I wanted to kill the “You’re speaker and I’m student” - it’s good for egos but not good for real work. Also, I wanted to interact and know my audience - what were their dreams, state of mind etc.

It was nice to see eyes full of ambitions and big dreams. Some of them are even working on business ideas. Though most of them will take a big team and expertise to execute. But I was there too, not very long ago. A café all entrepreneur opens - is a healthy mistake.

There are people who are onto some real businesses too. There is a team who are creating store for used books for the college. I go to talked to one guy from the team. During our very brief conversation he said, “It’s going good but the problem is the season of demand doesn’t come with season of supply.”

I don’t know about you - but man that’s some real problem. A green signal.

The Family Game

Most of the students were from a middle class families. Working parents expect their kids to get a good job & salary and ease their burden. Students taking a break of 4-5 years to build a business is not an option.

I’ve seen so many startups lose an important & brilliant member because parents can’t afford to have their kids not earning. I don’t think it’s sad - I think it’s a valid challenge.

Another thing that came up, while I was with Aditya in Bangalore, was social acceptance of ‘business guy’. People, in this part of the world, think it’s bad to make money. From my family, “Aren’t your parents earning enough?” - the comment I got when I talked about my business. Believe it or not business is a social stigma.

Some other facts:

  1. Most of the E-cell members were non-Computer Science / IT Guys. Good thing!
  2. Finally! There are some girls to be seen who are interested in entrepreneurship.

The Slides