Wednesday, August 26, 2009

OCC meet

this sunday, that is 30th august, i've been invited to share my thoughts at Open Coffee Club, Bangalore. this is a very interesting group of tech entrepreneurs. i came to know of OCC about a year ago, when my good friend Hemu Ramaiah (the founder of Landmark chain of book stores) told me that in Chennai, OCC is very active and vibrant. i signed up in bangalore soon after and i must say i quite enjoyed all the mail parlaying that went on (even though i must confess i did not understand all the tech stuff that were bandied about :). (i unsubscribed some time ago).

what fascinated me was the sense of what sociologists call the 'we feeling' that was prevalent in the OCC community. any problem faced by a member was taken on board by the entire community in right earnest and there was a mechanism of collective problem-solving which was not only mind-staggering but i'm sure also contributed to the sanity of the entrepreneurs. just knowing that there are a bunch of guys out there who will rally around you even if they dont have all the answers, is a huge confidence-booster, and entrepreneurs in india need more and more such lamposts that they can lean on in their eco-system.

it's a very lonely journey through a very hostile landscape and some friendly faces popping up now and then can really be a balm. keep up the good work OCC.

i plan to talk about mentors and mentorship. in a sense, in india, it's a very old term. the vedas and the upanishads talk about father and guru doubling up as mentors. but in the entrepreneurial context, it is lackadaisically used, incorrectly understood and its scope under-leveraged. so i plan to go at it with my scalpel :) you're welcome to Ta'am, in koramangala, at 10 AM on 30th august.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Ventures India

in my experience entrepreneurship has more nay-sayers than benefactors, so i'm used to being a battle-axe, fighting for its cause. but when i met sanjoy and hemant of NVI, Hyderabad, i was like : where were you guys hiding all this while!! believe you me, they are the good guys, guardian angels of entrepreneurship.

all those of you who are in the green space and looking for institutional mentoring and enterprise support services, log on to

i'm a mentor with NVI and the company allocated to me for mentoring is Solkar Solar, based out of Chennai and Singapore. Ragu who's a solar veteran is the founder of this company and I'm sure in the next eight weeks my own learning curve will soar!

i'm visiting Solkar's plant in Chennai and meeting the team on 7 and 8th september, 2009.

i will share my journey on these pages and i'm sure there will be plenty of lessons for all of us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

my dream, finally!

i haven't blogged on these pages for over six months. Besides laziness, the reason also was that i wanted to start a school for entrepreneurship. a few of us got together and spent a number of beery evenings poring over how to go about it, but unfortunately nothing came of it. It would be easy to say not having enough money to do it on our own was the show-stopper, but that would only be an excuse. as a friend of mine is fond of describing anything that has lost fizz, this too became "khuda fizz"!!

i wasn't ready to give up even though i did not have a definite plan in mind as to how i would do it. One day i was invited to run an entrepreneurship awareness workshop at New Horizon College of engineering, Bangalore. Post the workshop, they took me around the campus and i was stunned at the infrastructure that had been created. So I asked for a meeting with the Chairman.

I was ushered into Mr Mohan Manghnani's office in the next five minutes and even before i sat down i said," you have a very impressive facility, but tell me something, why haven't you set up a centre for entrepreneurship".

Mr Manghnani looked at me and said "will you do it?". So i said, 'sure i'll set it up for you'. He said "no, can you set it up and run it for us?". I said "sure" .

it was as simple as that. I was amazed at the way decisions were taken, my white paper on the centre was reviewed by the team he put together, consisting of HOD's and principals of the various streams, and in less than a week, we had signed on the dotted line.

this was in April and we decided to start the centre post vacation. I came on board on 20th july and here i am, sitting atop captive 5000+ young, vibrant minds and the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development is in biz!

they says it pours. a month after we signed up here, PES school of engineering, Bangalore invited me for a discussion to set up the Centre for Entrepreneurship. Dr Sridhar Mitta who is on their Board introduced me to Ajoy Kumar, the COO, a week later I met Jawahar, who's the Founder Chairman Mr Doreiswamy's son and within hours we had signed the deal.

so on 15th July, the Centre for Entrepreneurship was born at PESSE !!!

both are new age colleges, running professional, corporatized organizations, having created best in class facility and intellectual capital.

both see entrepreneurship as a very positive and viable career option to their students.

what we are offering in both the places is a full credit course in entrepreneurship for 36 hours, four hours a week, for nine weeks. The content is real time, pedagogy is experience- sharing by entrepreneurs, both successful and failed.

at the end of the course, the class has to do the biz plan in groups of four, and the best biz plans will be incubated in college, the entrepreneurs will be given seed capital, they will be mentored and hand-held to get their companies off the ground for the next two years.


the response from students is amazing, i addressed a class of 110 students at PES (its open only for final year students) and 81 registered for the course!! and in New Horizon, so far I have met 84 students, out of whom 71 have registered!!

in both the places, we are offering it as a value-added course for a small fee of Rs 1000.

for this year, we are concentrating only on our students. Next year, we will open it up to all interested entrepreneurs!!!

if my life get's any more exciting, i'll develop and burst an aneurysm!!!