Students, Colleges and Start-ups

Recently I was invited to lead a bootcamp for entrepreneurs. I truly enjoy these sessions as it is a clear view into what the future holds for us. Students of today are not like the previous generation! How many of us went to school with an iPad? How many of us had access to so many open source courses at school? How many of us even thought about starting a company when we were students?

Students are turning entrepreneurs and kickstarting enterprises on campuses. It is on the rise. Does it matter if it is a fad / trend / megatrend? Whatever you may think, the fact is that it is happening, at a larger scale than what we have seen even last year. Having been involved (for over a decade) in teaching and mentoring students to take up entrepreneurship, I can see the great change in perception amongst the student community towards such a career. This is largely visible amongst the engineering colleges, and more in the tier-2 and tier-3 colleges. Students now have access to information on their phones, laptops and iPads. They can easily reach out to people via Twitter, FB and Linkedin. They can quickly share their ideas out to mentors, incubators, angels and VCs. Slowly the environment is opening up. But the society (social and cultural environment) has to change its mindset. We have to encourage students to live their dreams. We need to stop pushing them into beaten paths. We need to make them experiment more with their lives.

Students want to do all of this. They have the passion, abilities and access too. Colleges have to use this to their advantage. They should encourage their students to be job creators than job seekers. Colleges need to make their environments display this quality. It is not about vision and mission, but about action. If there is anyway India is going to experience the real potential she possesses, it is through large scale entrepreneurship among her students and youth. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) should start looking at policy level measures along these lines. If the ministry can usher in a mindset change amongst the college level education ecosystem – the results can be mind-blowing. When we unleash our students, we are bound to see their real potential. We can start this by loosening our educational environment. Historically India has been known for her liberal nature with education. The time has come to make this happen again. The government can and should bring about a change, a small but firm change regarding liberal education. This is urgently needed amongst the engineering students. This one change can make them look at the world differently. It will open them to possibilities. This will be the beginning of the high potential entrepreneurship that all of us envision for India.

What I saw in the bootcamp was a glimpse of the possibility, that too with all the current constraints of the ecosystem. If colleges turn liberal and become places where students rush to each morning, start-ups are a natural outcome.

Think about it!

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