Interesting topic, isn't it? Let me tell you of my experience with school kids of Kota who attended Gyan Lab Kidpreneurs Summer Camp at Resonance PCCP. And guess who the Coach/Teacher/Guide/Facilitator was? ME!!!
I spent over a month developing the content, the structure, the value of the program for school kids of ages 8 – 15. So, when the registrations also contained students of ages upto 18 as well, my preparation just went for a toss! And, I had no clue as to how will we have folks of ages as little as 8 upto 18 sit in the same class and get into the same activities for all.
It was at that moment that I decided to just chuck the curriculum and go with the flow! Wow, it seems so easy to talk about it now but at that point of time, it was a goliath decision.
And, I reached Kota re-planning the entire 5 day schedule. I had one straight-forward task at hand – I needed to use concepts of entrepreneurship to ensure kids gained maximum exposure into life skills and they understand the feeling of starting a company of your own.
So, we started the Camp with exceptional stories from lives of Elon Musk, Tony Hsieh, Peter Thiel, Steve Jobs, Robin Li, Larry Page, Sergei Brin and others. Then, we spoke and discussed about some of the bigger and popular Indian start-ups and their stories. After this, I asked all the kids to write the most important things that they wish to achieve in their life. It was interesting to note that while some of us had really distant and long-term goals, a few of us also had very narrow goals (this was something I had to change in the next 4 days)!
Following this, the discussion shifted to Gyan Lab and what does Gyan Lab do. We took Gyan Lab as a test specimen, divided ourselves into teams and started searching for problems that we have ourselves faced or have seen people facing around us. This led to fantastic ideas such as KamWala.com, Mishti Jal, DevWorks, Magic Key, Its Easy and ServiceWala.com based on the problems that were our own or someone around us had faced. This is something that I deeply believe in – no one understands our problems better than us (as I understood with my education leading to the founding of Gyan Lab).
We started with the regular steps of writing a business plan but these were little people not even well versed with the rigour of normal life. So, another challenge came in the form of explaining the business plan format in great detail to all our kidpreneurs and I was amazed at the quality of their business plan as they started drafting the same. Market Description, Company Details, Product and Services, Marketing and Sales, Operations, Organization and Personnel all started flowing into shape in perfect unison. I was shocked and I was happy. It was working! Who says kids cannot grasp such deep concepts. The kidpreneurs were completely lost in their start-up planning.
We kept adding challenging and fun quotients while our kidpreneurs kept writing and modifying their business plans. For starters, they had to speak with their team members and decide who takes which role in the company based on their individual appraisal by self as well as other team members. The teams spent some quality time before announcing their CEOs in a mock press conference addressing the ‘audience’. They also did exercises where they had to visit a customer’s house and pitch their product to the customer. While some were born marketers, others had to try it over and over again till they shed their inhibitions and became perfect at the job. The kidpreneurs had to also create their viral advertisement video or show us the same by acting it out. The teams had to give other teams unbiased opinion about their videos/acts whether they would want to buy the product or service based on the same. It was a shocking experience when one of the teams actually spent 7 hours between 9 AM to 4 PM in the very hot climate of Kota to shoot their advert and showed us the same. I was thrilled to see this kind of excitement among our kidpreneurs and I knew the job was being done right.
The following day they started working on their financials beginning with unit economics. I was worried to the core as to how will an 8 year old get the hang of such deep stuff – and boy, I loved it being proved wrong once again. Once the P&L or Cash Flow statements were completed, all our kidpreneurs figured out the start-up capital they would require along with the future funding requirements as well. They also worked out elevator pitches by actually speaking with an extremely busy entrepreneur and our kidpreneurs had to catch his attention by their pitch. It was an interesting act as well.
All this was followed up with creating our own presentations in the 10-20-30 rule with good graphics and clear phrases. Every team practiced their pitches really well to ensure they were in a good position to convince the judging panel.
The 5th and final day was dedicated to last minute tweaks and practices. At 6 pm, we started off with the presentations by various teams along with their final videos/acts, elevator pitches, jingles, business plan presentation and marketing skills. The teams were asked really difficult questions by the Judging Panel who ensured that our kidpreneurs were thorough with their work on their ideas.
For me, it was a moment of glory when each one of them presented. We had kids who were not able to say a word on stage on the 1st day and were explaining their complete businesses on the 5th day with total conviction. What more does a teacher need?
Proud of you guys and thank you for the terrific time I had with you at Gyan Lab Kidpreneurs Summer Camp.
I firmly believe that learning from an entrepreneur is the best way to learn anything in life. So, when the latest edition of UnPluggd Start-up Event was announced, I told my team members that I would take them for the same. But as usual, I had some work come up which intended to keep me away from Bangalore for one whole week during which the event was scheduled.
So, I bought tickets for my team and gave it out to them to attend the event and enjoy the world of entrepreneurship. Once, I was back from my trip, I wanted to ensure that the money I spent was wisely spent by these folks and I asked them to tell their experiences at the event.
Here is an absolutely unadulterated, raw version of their experiences at UnPluggd:
Here is what Siddharth had to say about his experience at UnPluggd:
Unpluggd is India’s biggest startup event – the mere thought of being a part of such a big thing filled me and my co-interns with excitement and anticipation! After all, it was to be THE first event that we would attend, dressed in our never-been-used-before formals! When Priyadeep, our CEO, handed us the tickets, our happiness was extremely evident! I (and I’m sure all my co-intern friends) could not stop smiling and imagining things.
The night before 8th June, everything was in an unusual order. I mean, we prepared our ‘wardrobes’ and slept all the way before 12! Seriously! Morning came, we got ready, and in style. The four of us headed to the location, a prominent convention center, with our heads held high. In confidence : )
Well, we reached. Entered. Saw. And awestruck we were! Scores of budding entrepreneurs, officials and interns (well, we happened to be the youngest there) and the feeling of wearing that i-card, with the company name written – that was awesome. Simply awesome.
The event started off (an hour late, though) with the address of Mr. KailashKatkar, the Founder of the famous Quick Heal Antivirus company. A superb talk, with insights into how he created a success story by understanding every bit of the market and business, employing every resource and sheer innovation. The idea of: to beat, win the market, one needs to understand it first inspired me the most. His theory on network channels and creating customer base was very interesting.
Then it was the time for perhaps the most awaited keynote of the event: Vishal Gondal – Indiagames Founder. Wow, the man gave the talk we are not going to forget anytime soon- brilliant, captivating and vey humorous. Everything, from the history of conception of the company, his passion for gaming, his luck with VCs (and story of an eventual despise for them), his ideology of loving what you do and doing what you love, and his unrestrained humor – was a treat to the ears and to the intellect. And his enticing jokes. We were all like, Oh! Butterflies in stomach! (well, not literally)
After a brief session of coffee, the event resumed with a talk by Mr. Radhakrishnan, the Founder of iStream, a social content video making company. His idea of business models in the Indian market, the social media as a business platform and the contrast between an add supported versus subscription model for online community video segment was enlightening. Especially that the company had to shut down just recently, his talk was engaging in the sense as to what went wrong and how it could be overcome.
What followed was the most awaited (though a little boring. Little) startup launch. Five startups related to technology field showcased themselves. From e-commerce innovation to customizable e-mail management softwares, from smart mobile phone payment softwares to voice based replacement system for TV remotes – the showcase left the audience impressed. A lot of questions thereby the audience, though.
Lunch time! It was, a grand corporate style lunch. Great food (though the 4 of us didn’t concur on that). We could hear lot of those ‘networking discussions’ going all around, but I guess we were too busy eating to engage in those. A mistake. But, it was only then we noticed, people were not wearing formals! And an impromptu meeting with Abhaas, our Co-Founder and his pointing out only doubled on the ‘lesson’: never wear formals to an entrepreneur event. Point noted.
More lectures followed. The CTO of PayU, an online payment system addressed us next. It was more of an ‘information’ session, with great deal talks about how PayU functions, stands out etc. However the prominent things were the little innovations with high impact, like a unique buyer-seller conflict redressal system, complete transparency, web profiles etc.
Next was Know Your Gyaan, an interactive session where 4 people were invited to the stage to take part in a business quiz. Question were random, entrepreneurship based, like ‘what is the ideal number of co-founders?’ and ‘young and passionate versus old and experienced?’ etc. Well, the answers were quite different and sometimes on a humorous note too. A Designer, a hacker and a hustler as the three co-founders. Brilliant!
Next was the startup launch part two. More interesting than its predecessor, it showcased advanced motion controlled technology for interaction (Fluidmotion), a new cloud based security software, a software to analyze all your e-mails and digital communication and advise you even. Softwares, softwares all around.
Next to follow was coffee, but alas, we were not luck enough to enjoy a second round of that delicious coffee. Damn. We had to leave, unfortunately, the event in the middle. The reason? Well, we are already unhappy about that, so better spare it here : (
So, after a brief photo-session, when we had some really good pictures (evident by the good number of FB likes), it was time for adieu. Overall, it was a terrific event – powerful keynotes, inspiring business fundae from the most illustrious entrepreneurs, and nice food :P
All I can say that for me, it was a memorable event. Inspiring, informative, and entertaining.
Siddharth Khandelwal (Team Member - Gyan Lab; 3rd Year - IIT Guwahati)
This is What Vishus Has to Say About the Event:
We, interns of Gyan Lab were sponsored by our CEO for the event ‘UNPLUGGD’, which is one of the most anticipated tech start up conference in India.
The event started a bit late, but we enjoyed the atmosphere with many Founders and Co-Founders all around. The event started with Kailash Katkar, Quick Heal founder. Story of his startup journey was very inspiring. Starting with a small computer service shop, journey of his and his Brother Sanjay Katkartogether without leaving the hope of success, they competed with the shark in the Antivirus field. Next speaker was Vishal Gondal, Indiagames Founder. We were watching his speech like a movie. As like his games, his speech was also very thrilling and inspiring. He told us about how his hobby later changed his life. He told us about his up and downs in the journey and the $100m hug from Disney. Then we had coffee and snacks with many Entrepreneurs.
Next session started with Radhakrishnan, the Founder of iStream. He told us about his career journey and how difficult it was to come up with a decision to shut down the firm. Even after that he showed his willpower to bring the company again. He also mentioned that his friends and employees, who are together with him is his power to go-ahead. Next session was launch of Startups. The startups were Deck, Keymail, Echo, Martmobi, and Mywindow.
After the lunch, the session was to start by Nitin Gupta, founder of PayU, but in his absence his cofounder led the session. Then they had question and answer session with An Investor,Entrepreneur, one who work for Entrepreneur and one from the audience. After that five more startups Whatfix, Muhive, The Fluid Motion, Instasafe and Betaout were launched. Unfortunately we couldn’t attend the later sessions of Sachin Bansal, Flipkart Cofounder and Lalit Patel, BitRhymes Founder.
Vishus Narayanan (Team member - Gyan Lab; 3rd Year - SPA Vijaywada)
Shruti's Account of the Event and What She Experienced about Entrepreneurship:
NEXTBIGWHAT- Unpluggd was my first experience attending an entrepreneurship event, all thanks to my CEO, to give the ticket for the event as well as let go a day off from work. :D So excited I was, that I went onto wear a formal for the event.
I, along with my co-interns reached the venue on time and was thrilled to see so many entrepreneurs. And as I assumed all of them to be entrepreneurs, I freaked out thinking that some people might be assuming me too as the one! :B
The first speaker to address us was Mr. KailashKatkar, founder and CEO of Quick heal. His idea of removing the distributors and setting up channel partners was really ingenious. While he was more sincere and resolute, the next speaker, Mr. Vishal Gondal was all charming and captivating. Being a gaming freak himself, his start-up Indiagames was to succeed for sure. Hearing him was a sheer delight.
While listening to both of them, I became sure of one thing that, being an entrepreneur is an innate talent. Besides being extremely innovative and having immense guts, believing in oneself and the work you are doing is the mantra of their success.
The next person to address us deserves a salute for having been present there. Mr. Radhakrishnan’s company i stream had shut just 2 weeks before and he was addressing us with all the credence and confidence. True entrepreneur he is! And what inference I drew from his address was that VCs are actually not that pleasant people and could decipher why Vishal was so dread against them. ;)
After these 3 awesome sessions was the time for the handpicked start-ups to pitch themselves. There were some wonderful innovative ideas ranging from mobile based app which could assist you to create a presentation, emails managing mascot ‘keymail’, product based start-up ‘echo’ which sounded very promising and an impressive mobile commerce solution provider.
Post lunch break, the CTO of PayU addressed the gathering and was very much successful in enticing us. It truly seemed an interesting online payment gateway.
‘Know your Gyan’ was next in the agenda, which was a sort of q/a round. A VC, an entrepreneur, an employee of a start-up and a ‘none of them’ person were asked about their perception on some matters related to start-up. While majority of them answered that salary of a founder before investment is 0 and that an ideal combination of co-founder for any start-up is 3- hustler, hacker and designer; they had different views on ideal age of starting a start-up-27 or 40. Overall, listening to their answers and explanation was fun.
Then came the second round of start-up launch. All the start-ups were quite intriguing, 2 of which were SaaS based. There was a cloud based start-up named ‘Fluid Motion’ having all the awesome hand gestures to control one’s computer.
Then we had a coffee break after which was an address by Mr. SachinBansal, flipkart co-founder followed by an address by Mr. Lalit Patel, Bash gaming founder.But due to some engagements, I left after the coffee break and still regret missing the talk by these two.
All in all, it was an amazing experience to be seated in the same auditorium where the likes of such accomplished entrepreneurs were present. Eleanor Roosevelt had said ’the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ And entrepreneurs are sure a lot of people who prove her right! :-)
Shruti Bagaria (Team Member - Gyan Lab; 4th Year - NIT Raipur)
Vikshak's Description of the Event, and he is a funny guy!
Often you observe the world going gaga over the more exemplary motifs such as music, literature or art; then there are people who aspire to garner happiness through thinking ‘out of the box’. Now, imagine yourself stranded in an island full of such thinkers communicating with each other in a language that is filled with so much sense and ideas that you tend to ask yourself, “Good Lord, if only I had taken a course on thinking out of the box…”.
This is an abstract introduction to one of the most inciting events I have ever attended - UnPluggd. As an extended thank you note, I am obligated to write a few words about my dainty 8 hour experience at this event. This informal report is in no way to be conceived in a stringent fashion because it only portrays the perspective of an ordinary 2nd Year engineer.
Expending our time as interns at ‘Gyan Lab’, the four of us were fortunate enough to have been sponsored entry to this event by the CEO – Priyadeep Sinha. We had contemplated this event to be attending with him and wholly discarded the possibility of venturing without an Entrepreneur by our side. It came as a jolt to us when we were informed that he wouldn’t make it. Well, things could have gotten a lot worse if we were to interface with the honorary Entrepreneurs and pitch ‘Gyan Lab’ all by ourselves. Thus, to make up for the lost esteem, we decided to wear formals. Thanks to our anxiety, we managed to wake up on time and reach the venue at 9:00am. Empowered mentally by the formals, we lugged our way into the venue and impersonated a ‘Mr. Know-It-All’ character. We made our way into the seminar hall, outright aware of our decorum and got seated among the front rows.
Since the proceedings began an hour late, without any further preamble, Mr. Ashish Sinha, the founder of NextBigWhat, introduced Mr. Kailash Katkar, the CEO of QuickHeal Technologies to share the story of his mystifying journey to fame. Even as a simple machine fixer, he found a void in the computer security market as far as Indian consumers were concerned. It evidently wasn’t an easy task to capture market value when the Indian consumers were already using globally appreciated antivirus securities. Put simple, I found three points worth noting:
1) Always target a specific customer base. Think big later.
2) Find a void in the market you are willing to prove your mettle in.
3) QuickHeal is an Indian Company!
The last point must be embraced with a positive perspective. I used QuickHeal for a year (changed for no reason though). Since I had never come upon this name, I ran a search on Google to check the names of top-ten antivirus software globally. Apparently, QuickHeal was one amongst them. Get the point? Like a typical Indian customer, by default, I assumed none of them would have been founded by Indians. And yes, I was proud to have used it.
The talk of Mr. Kailash Katkar was followed by that of Mr. Vishal Gondal, the founder and CEO of Indiagames. This guy got me thinking “Neither I am enjoying my life, nor am I taking risks. Do I kill myself?” Being the dynamic prodigy he is, his every word was so enlivening. If your jaws weren’t dropped at the end of his discourse, one would assume you did not pay attention. Excellent presentation skills, ability to think on one’s feet, fortitude to spearhead the team during adverse situations were some of his qualities that I found noteworthy. Ending with his 10 rules to be an Entrepreneur, the bottom-line was that we must always have the courage to take risks. Kudos sir, you nailed it!
A talk was also presented by the Founder and CEO of iStream, Mr. Radhakrishnan. Perhaps one of the most arduous tasks would be to witness your company shutdown and confer a talk about your company in the coming week. Without any hissy fits, he catered to our requests and answered the audience’s qualms patiently, also imparting few take-away lessons from his experience.
The most intriguing of the events was the Start-Up Launch. Each Entrepreneur, with a complacent attitude, an ample grin on the face and a proud personage made his way to the stage to present his idea to the audience and impress the VCs. This just added to our already brimming enthusiasm to pursue Entrepreneurship.
Well… It was a gratifying experience to witness how the current Corporate world works as well as to see the amount of respect and consideration an Entrepreneur receives. You know why they get, or I must say, deserve respect? Because they never feared to take risks in their life, which most of us fail to embrace. I must confess, the guilt of not having taken risks in the past was too overwhelming and solemnly pledged myself that my life from now on shall be filled with risks (immature right? Doesn’t matter, this pledge shall always nudge me internally when I am faced with a daunting task in the future). Alas, we missed the talk by Flipkart Founder, Mr. Sachin Bansal and the Founder of Bash Gaming, Mr. Lalit Patel as we had to leave early due to various reasons. As I conclude my informal report, I would like to thank all those people who have contributed in making this event a success and a huge thank you goes to the CEO of Gyan Lab again, Mr. Priyadeep Sinha. Sir, thank you for the 950 bucks treat!
Vikshak Raj (Team Member - Gyan Lab; 3rd Year - IIT Madras)
Pretty interesting question, isn't it? I have been at the helm of this tiny organization with massive goals for almost 2.5 years now. It was a very painful journey to begin but with passing time, we have understood how to bear and use this pain to create something very valuable for the education ecosystem in India.
We have finally been able to move our primary office to Bangalore with the same doubling up as place of stay for the full-time team members as well. This is to ensure that if we are awake, we are working. The office is also our warehouse-cum-assembly space. Remembering a time when we started off with just a couple of cubicles in the MUTBI Office in Manipal and finally being able to setup a well established office 8 months after we began working. So, this is going to be as long and painful as well, but now we know how to proceed in a patternised manner to optimize effort against results.
The Manipal Office still belongs to us, atleast till the end of this year, where we have a decent sized team working round the clock to ensure that the final product is as good as we have been speaking about it. Frankly speaking, I miss the organized atmosphere of the Manipal office but I also realize that in an effort to grow the organization this is a mandatory step, and who better to lead the new pack in a new place than the guy who steers the vision.
We have been lucky to have contracts in place for GYAN Lab with a number of schools spread across larger cities like Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad while also being present in tier II and tier III towns such as Mangalore, Kota, Udupi, Bellary, etc. We are making frantic efforts to ensure that the delivery of the learning centers (as I prefer to call GYAN Lab as learning centers) is absolutely on time. We entered the market with a promise of creating excellence and choosing quality over quantity, and at this crucial juncture it is extremely important that we stick to our set guidelines.
We have a bunch of extremely dedicated interns working with us over the summer months. When we released the applications for internships at GYAN Lab little did we know that we would receive over 1200 applications. We chose people with an unbiased opinion and today these kids are working with us, learning about our vision and executing given tasks.
Right now, I am in my flight to Jaipur en-route to Kota where I would be taking a Kidpreneurs Summer Camp for 5 days, working with a bunch of students between ages 10 - 18 and trying to give a real insight into the world of entrepreneurship. I would also spend time in Kota with our franchisee and work out strategies and meets with a number of institutions who believe in what we do and are willing to establish GYAN Lab in their institutions.
We have our team working from various locations at any given point of time and we are learning the nuances of working together remotely.
Everyday, now, seems to be an inch closer to what we had set out for. We have a very carefully selected list of long term goals and have a massive number of daily goals, and it is really all about successfully implementing the daily goals within an appropriate timeframe that will help s achieve the long term ones.
Yeah, so that is what we are upto these days. Please do visit us whenever you are crossing by any one of our offices, we would love to have you there and take important feedback from you as well. And if you are making a special visit to our office, we would be even more grateful to you. After all, it is all your blessings and good wishes that has brought us so far and will keep taking us ahead. Thank you.