Encouraging and empowering young entrepreneurs…
Wednesday , 8 April, 2009
We at, A Rational Mind, were surprised and overjoyed when we received an invitation from The Economic Times to cover the second phase of their event, The Power of Ideas as a part of Online Social Media. We jumped at the opportunity and were present at St. Andrews Auditorium, Bandra for this event.
The Power of Ideas is a joint initiative by Economic Times (ET) and Indian Angel Networks (IAN) for inviting new entrepreneurial ideas from young minds, testing them and providing them the necessary financial support.
This program is divided into four phases.
Phase 1 called for business ideas and received an overwhelming response with the panel receiving a massive 12000+ ideas. Over 1000 ideas were shortlisted for Phase 2 – Group mentoring and Elevator Pitch where the participants will present their detailed business plans to the investor panel.
Phase 3 involves One-on-One mentoring with senior mentors via phone/email and candidates selected hereafter will be presenting their mentored ideas in Phase 4 to a gathering of investors wherein suitable participants will get the required funds.
The evening begins
The evening began with Mr. Vinod Mahanta, Corporate Dossier for ET delivering the welcome address. He emphasized that in times like today when most CEOs have lost hope it is the hopeful young minds with good ideas who will make a difference.
He then introduced the panel which consisted of established entrepreneurs who were members of Indian Angel Network (IAN) and invest in potential business ideas. Mr. Mahanta then invited some of the members of the panel to share their experiences with the entrepreneurs-to-be.
Entrepreneurial journey shared
Mr. Harish Mehta, one of the founder members of NASSCOM and owner of Onward Novell (I) Pvt. Ltd., shared with us the highlights of his entrepreneurial journey and emphasized that entrepreneurship is the way to get paid for brains and not sweat. He expressed his opinion that not large companies but entrepreneurs will be the agent of change in the society.
Mr. Rehan Yaar Khan then took the stage and guided us through his journey in the floral retail business which ultimately led to the foundation of Flora2000.com which delivers flowers worldwide. He shared with us the mantra that team building is an important and lengthy process but once the team is built it is then that things start happening. He stressed that whatever your product may be it is the cool marketing idea that you implement that will appeal to the investors and the customers.
The evening was a very good learning experience for the entire audience. Mr. Krishna Jha, co-founder of ITfinity, a member of the panel and an IAN investor, kept the audience smiling by doling out funny but wise statements. When he was asked whether “It was the right time to start” he replied “ The right time to start is NOW”, quickly adding “irrespective of when the question is asked!”. The importance of having a partner in a business was also stressed upon. However, one of the most wisest things from him for the evening was “ One has to face rejection often in business. It is the ability to overcome rejection and succeed that makes the difference. The money made from this success pays off the trauma of rejection!”
A new entrepreneur’s tale
Mr. Krishnan Madhabushi, co- founder of Kwench, an online library for Corporates, was recently granted funds by IAN. He was invited to share his thoughts with the audience. He said that the inputs from the investors helps in the evolution of the company and looking at the business model from a different perspective is made possible only due to investor interest. These tips were really very helpful to the future entrepreneurs in the audience.
The format of submission
The panel was then engaged in a brief Q&A session by Mr. Mahanta. Ms. Padmaja Ruparel of IAN then explained the format of submission for the Elevator Pitch phase. The slides would cover important aspects of a business plan like Product & Services, Market Analysis, Sales Strategy, Team, Financials. The panel also expressed their own views about what the investors would expect from the participants in their presentations.
Ms. Ruparel then opened the floor for an interactive Q&A session between the panel and the audience. This was a very fruitful session where the audience aired their queries and got good explanatory replies from the panel. There was even a funny situation wherein a man had submitted many ideas and was shortlisted but could not find out for which idea he was selected.
One of the questions discussed the reasons for failure of new startups. It was said that “ Startups die not because of starvation but due to indigestion!”. Mr. Rehan Yaar Khan emphasized that high expenditure often kills startups and savings should be done till it hurts.
All-in-all, this was a very educative session both for us and the audience. It just showed the gold mine of talent that is Young India and the bright examples set by the entrepreneur-investors for us to follow.
We would like to thank Ms. Priya Kapadia, Asst. General Manager-Brand Team, ET for showing faith in us and inviting us over to cover this fabulous initiative. This was not only a learning experience for us in covering an event but it taught us much about what the investors & customers expect from new entrepreneurs. We learnt from her that one individual had submitted six different ideas and all of them were shortlisted for Phase 2.
These shortlisted candidates will now be undergoing the Elevator Pitch session after which they will be shortlisted for Phase 3.
We wish them all the best of luck for their bright futures!
This work by Pranjal A. Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License