Startup Schemes to watch

In India the biggest challenge for startups today is not ‘starting up’ but knowing how to keep themselves abreast of whats happening in the ecosystem. There is so much happening all over the place that we tend to get lost. With the government launching a number of schemes to help startups and entrepreneurs, it only gets even more difficult. Hence any compilation of such lists is useful. I found here: Here is a list to 50 such schemes.

Policy initiatives and resulting schemes are useful for startups. They help during the tough early days of a startup. So don’t miss reading this and make maximum use of whichever you can.

Happy Reading and Happy Using!!

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!

Announcement: Launchpad Challenge 2014

If you are a student interested in Entrepreneurship then you may want to explore this competition. These days competitions truly serve as a launch pad for start-ups in numerous ways. They include validation of concept, finding co-founders, raising funds for bootstrapping, etc.,. So if you are one such entrepreneurial soul living on any campus in India, here is one more chance for you not to miss. For details and links read below:

Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad, and the National Entrepreneurship Network are delighted to invite you to take part in Launchpad Challenge 2014 – an initiative that celebrates and supports breakthrough innovations from students across all disciplines! 

If you are a graduate or post-graduate student in India with an exciting idea/product/prototype to share, enter the Challenge to win national recognition and fast-track commercialization support, including:

  • An opportunity to attend an intensive business plan workshop tailored for you
  • An opportunity to pitch your idea/product to leading investors
  • Recognition at the Launchpad Challenge Grand Finale at EDII, Ahmedabad (to be held on 7th March, 2014)

To enter the Challenge, please submit your completed nomination form (available at link below), on or before 15th February, 2014

Eligibility: The EDII-NEN Launchpad Challenge 2014 is open to all graduate and post-graduate students in India, affiliated to recognized universities or colleges. 

Process: Interested and eligible students are requested to submit their completed nomination forms on or before 15th February, 2014. A national jury will review the nomination forms and select the most innovative ideas/products – which have the highest potential for impact. Selected candidates will be informed by NEN representatives and invited to attend the Grand Finale at EDII, Ahmedabad on 7th March, 2014, where they will take part in an intensive workshop on building effective business plans, and have an opportunity to fast-pitch their ideas or products to investors.

http://eweek.nenonline.org/page/edii-launchpad-challenge-2014

Starting up in India – Rank 173 out of 184

We all hear about the “Doing Business Report” ( www.doingbusiness.org ) that is released every year by the World Bank. Our country is ranked pretty low at 132 out the 184 countries that get ranked. We have also been pretty much consistent (looks like) as we have not changed from last year! Intrigued I searched to see if our neighbors are doing any better. I was surprised – Sri Lanka (81), Bangladesh (129), Nepal (108), China (91) and Pakistan (107) are all above us on the list. Some of them way above!

But what really got me saddened is the fact that on one factor considered in the study called “starting a business” – we are even worse. Especially because it related to a subject of my interest: entrepreneurship. We rank 173 out the 184 nations ranked on the list. Seemed a shame to me! With so much of talking happening at a national level on entrepreneurship and small businesses – how can we encourage our next generation to startup? Since the number of nations where starting a business is more difficult than in India are so few, I decided to look up and do some searching. Here are the names I found:

Djibouti, Haiti, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Congo, Rep., West Bank and Gaza, Suriname, Iraq, Côte d’Ivoire, Cambodia, Bolivia.

Except for one name ‘Cote d’Ivoire’ from where I had met and trained a few entrepreneurs as part of a UNIDO Entrepreneurship Development Program, I actually looked up to know where the others are. They are far from being considered emerging countries. So we can understand why they rank so low in the list. They need more time to become developing nations to attempt a higher rank.

But why India – Why do we need more time and how much more time? Many of our smaller and larger neighbors are all ranked higher even here: Sri Lanka (33), Bangladesh (95), Nepal (105), China (151) and Pakistan (98) Even some of the world’s poorest nations are ranked higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita ).

In recent times the amount of entrepreneurial activity has increased. This is a very positive sign. In my workshops on business modeling and planning I am seeing a lot more serious participation from aspiring minds. It’s time we bucked up and accelerated our efforts in building a more conducive ecosystem for early stage activity. Though sporadic efforts are taking place (some of which are also very intense) – a higher degree of coordination is needed to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.