“If an opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” – Milton Berle
The startup culture is this generation’s favorite cup of tea, and blending innovation with entrepreneurship in the right proportions is the key to make the finest one. With 16 different speakers spanning 4 panels, MUTBI held its annual Entrepreneurship Summit on 27th October in the Library Auditorium to help Manipalites brew their cup to perfection.
Aimed at eager minds brimming with innovation, MES was the perfect platform to know everything you would need to know about bringing your ideas into the real world. The two-day event had successful entrepreneurs and Manipal alumni sharing their experience about the corporate world on the first day, followed by a Pitch Desk event for budding entrepreneurs on day 2.
Each of the 4 panels had a designated topic to be expounded on, and a moderator put forth questions provided by the audience to the panelists for their valuable insight on the same. The topics discussed covered all general queries related to entrepreneurship, namely ‘Startup Essentials’, ‘Funding’, ‘Marketing and Scalability’, and ‘Dilemma of Sell or Retain’.
Established Manipal alumni from a wide range of disciplines comprised the list of speakers, each with a shared passion to make it large and a unique story to share:
- Jeetendra Nayak- Founder of Ankseals Pvt. Ltd.
- Venkat Vallabhaneni- General Partner for IDFC Parampara Early Stage Opportunities Fund
- Arun Sharma- CEO of Gouri Group of companies
- Sunil Reddy- Managing Director at Dodla Diary Ltd.
- Gajanan Nagarsekar- Founder of Kallows Engineering Pvt. Ltd.
- Gaurav Agarwal- CEO and Director of Innvolution Imaging; Co-founder of Innvolution HealthCare Pvt. Ltd.
- Priyadeep Sinha- Founder & CEO of GyanLab
- Prasanth M.A.- Director at A.K. group (plywood)
- Anurag Bhatia- CEO & Head of Investments at Minance
- Chendil Kumar- Corporate trainer and Guest Faculty at IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore
- Akash Budhia- Co-founder of CronJ IT Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
- Pradip Bhandari- Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Jan Ki Baat
- Atreyee Borooah Thekedath- Founder of Web.Com (India) Pvt. Ltd.
- Vijay Raghav Varada- Co-founder of Fractal Works Pvt. Ltd.
- Rohitashva Agrawal- Independent Health Innovation Researcher and Consultant
- Mohak Dhingra- Co-founder of Jobspire
The host for the first talk session, Mr. T. Chendil Kumar discussed his first impression of being an entrepreneur, and believes that the first rule of being an entrepreneur is to “challenge our assumptions”. Quoting examples of Nokia and Blackberry, he explained how the young entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming a steady ride and not thinking beyond the obvious possibilities.
The first panel was invited to the stage and each shared their experiences and opinions on “Startup Essentials”.
“When you wish to start as an entrepreneur, you don’t just put all your stakes in the technicalities. You think about the problem you wish to solve, what is your solution and how do you wanna solve it.”, Vijay took the first plunge and offered his views on the subject. To ease away the countless doubts of the young achievers, a panelist added, “It is a myth that a perfect company starts with a perfect business plan or a perfect product. Take, for example: Motorola, Walmart, or Sony.”
“What’s the perfect age to start as an entrepreneur?”, a keen student asked the panel.
“Yesterday”, answered one of the panelists laughingly. “There is no perfect age. It’s the time when you observe your potential and passion.”
The talk session ended by setting a few important prerequisites of entrepreneurship : a solid business plan, routine tactical goals, ground knowledge of the market and finances and lastly, the passion that can push you forward to ‘take the plunge’.
The enlightening discussion was followed by a keynote speech by Mr. Kedar Medhi, the Director at the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore. Highlighting on the lesser known healthcare sector of Philips, he shared insights on the global challenges and trends commonly faced by them, emerging majorly from inadequate healthcare access and limited availability of resources. Mr. Medhi also spoke about the Health Works Program initiated by Philips to promote a mutually beneficial outcome between them and promising entrepreneurs. With a rise in digitization of records and an evolving startup culture, he urged entrepreneurs to tap into the healthcare sector and make a valuable impact on people’s lives.
After a much needed tea break, the event proceeded with the remaining three panels, each equally valuable and informative. The Finance panel covered all financial queries ranging from modes of funding to building a good product MVP. An honest account of personal experiences with bank funding, collateral and venture capitalists poured from the panelists, painting a clearer picture how to make decisions regarding a startup’s investments. “Everyone wants to hit the ground running, but it doesn’t work that way. You must first crawl, then walk, then run”, Gaurav pitched in. The discussion then shifted to the strategies involved in marketing a product effectively, and concluded by imporing the possibilities of selling or retaining it. Each panel proceeded with a multitude of experiences and failures shared, and countless words of wisdom bestowed.
An inspiring speech by MIT’s Director and MU’s Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr. G.K. Prabhu concluded the session for day 1, where he stressed on the importance of a strong alumni network for valuable mentorship. He also mentioned the upcoming changes introduced in the MIT curriculum which will take effect the following academic year onward.
The last day of the summit witnessed enthusiastic participants from both MIT and KMC pitch their business models to the panel of alumni, who scrutinized each proposed entrepreneurial scheme and responded with critical feedback. Each team was given a total of 10 minutes, divided equally between the presentation and the following QA session. A few of the companies which participated included Modulus Motors, Solert DevOps Pvt. Ltd., OCAHM CONNECT, Alexander Computing Pvt. Ltd., and VISINIT.
Manipal’s large talent pool combined with their innate desire to create to impact makes this the perfect place to groom entrepreneurs from aspiring individuals. The Entrepreneurship Summit created a brilliant platform for precisely that, and hopefully left its audience and participating members with lessons to last a lifetime.
—Ayush Agrawal and Tejal Khullar for MTTN
–Photographs by Manan Dhuri and Nvnit