Grooming the game changers

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 15, 2013 11:26 hrs

Wedvaan, a recently organized "Thought Leaders' Conclave" for MBA students in Mumbai not only gave them a flavour of the real world but challenged them to come up with innovative business presentations for real entrepreneurs to stir the spirit of leadership, discipline and entrepreneurship. Sujoy Dhar reports

Tapu Solutions is run by Neha Bagoira. The Computer Science M.Sc. who previously worked for the Patni group is 35 and says Tapu is a think-tank to create ecosystem with viability, in life harbouring values. She started up with an innovative water conservation product EcoTrapIn - water-less urinal which is ergonomic and pro-environmental that tackles water scarcity and sanitation hygiene. EcoTrapIn technology conserves 1,67,900 liters of water per urinal per year, says Neha.

While Tapu Solutions works for conservations, Smile Merchants wants about 800 million people to say cheese across India. Smile Merchants is a chain of dental clinics in tier two and three cities, towns and villages in India, providing dental care services to millions. One of its founders Chandra Shekhar Pandey calls Smile Merchants the "McDonald ´s of Dentistry" - quick, quality care at affordable prices.

Well, both Neha and Chandra Shekhar are young entrepreneurs who last month worked with MBA students to create presentations about their businesses and pitched them to possible investors. They won cash prizes for their presentations with the students and above all cards were exchanged with people who matter in the thought leaders' conclave organized by Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (WeSchool).

The conclave is unusual in the sense that it brought real entrepreneurs to work with students and then present their business models as pitches to investors.

Says Prof. Kaustubh Dhargalkar, Associate Dean-Innovation, WeSchool, "The world out there is tough and classroom learning alone will not help an MBA student to face it. Today, a management graduate finds it difficult to perform the tasks given to him, not because he is incapable, but because he may lack the real-world experience to carry it out."

" Wedvaan- The Thought Leaders´ Conclave is WeSchool´s unique all India students´ festival that aims is to create a confluence of innovation, citizen leadership and entrepreneurial thinking. Various unique workshops and events were held over 3 days," says Dhargalkar.

But most exciting and real learning ground for students was at Mashup where the entrepreneurial challenge had real entrepreneurs participating. The shortlisted entrepreneurs bid for the best of the shortlisted student teams and over the next 36 hours these teams created scalable business strategies for the entrepreneurs. A jury comprising entrepreneurs, angel investors and mentors judged the best of the plans based on their uniqueness, scalability and potential for impact.

Says Neha, "It was a learning process for me too and I made valuable contacts at Mashup. The whole concept was quite unique and meaningful."

Neha was assisted by the college students' team from NITIE (National Institute of Industrial Engineering). Students like Robin Jain, Hitesh Sawai and Abhishek Kumar helped with the presentation. They shared the Prize money but more than that participated in a learning experience on how to prepare and pitch a real business model to investors.

Likewise, Chandra Sekhar was assisted by the Welingkar Institute Of Management, Mumbai students like Qamar Siddiquie, Srushti Shah and Gaurav Arora.

Qamar Siddiquie says he can face any angel investor or venture capitalist (VC) next time quite fearlessly after the experience at Mashup.

"There were angel investors and VCs and they asked end number of questions which we had to answer. You get to learn a lot and what I also learnt was the passion with which an entrepreneur offers his project. I think this experience should be a must in every B-school as part of their curriculum," says Qamar.

According to Dhargalkar, "Wedvaan is an opportunity to realise your own potential and career goals, it's a platform to brainstorm with stalwarts who have set up business empires from a scratch, angel investors, NGO heads and develop an understanding of the ways in which the complexities in the world work and your own role in it."

Over a period of three days from February 22 to 24, Wedvaan' hosted management students from top B-Schools across the country and took them through an entire gamut of thought provoking experiences like business talks, competitions and workshops that were unique in every aspect.

With competitions like Mashup , WeSchool says they "tried to do the undoable and created new avenues for management students to explore newer learnings."

Acting as a platform for ideation, 'Wedvaan' became a learning experience for the MBA students that dream of not only kick-starting their entrepreneurial ventures but also have the desire to become the catalysts of social change whether in public life, corporate corridors or by taking the NGO route.

As Prof Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, WeSchool, sums it up, "'Wedvaan' is not only about giving the MBA students a flavour of the real world and help them plan for the road ahead but also to instil in them the spirit of leadership, discipline, innovation and entrepreneurship ,making them game changers in true sense of the term."

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