Student startups – good or bad?


As I walked into the corridors of Sardar Patel Institute of Technology not having the least idea what I wanted to do with my life. The cut throat competition for marks left me nowhere in the rat race. Far away from being the class topper I was barely securing a first class. My second year mini-project was just another academic requirement ”to pass”. However, the same project my ‘Pedal Power Generator’ gave me a gateway to a world I had never seen before.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre at my college selected my project to be exhibited at a festival based on renewable energy. I was presented with an opportunity to interact with highly intellectual people and learn an approach to showcasing new ideas. This was the first time the sense of entrepreneurship was instilled in me. It was then that I started researching on entrepreneurship in India and how we students were encouraged by college itself to create our startups. The innumerable success stories I came across inspired me.
But how does an individual without any prior background in business not only start a company but manage to hold it through thick and thin? It was then that I started attending seminars in college that focused on how students can start their own company. What is the role of a director and a promoter? What should be the activity of the company? How the service or product is to be marketed and sold? What about finance, staff management? What are the legal factors involved? How does one make a business plan? A long list of questions for which I had no answers. These topics had always been irrelevant to my academics till then. During these seminars I came in contact with other entrepreneurs with exciting ideas and fascinating business plans. I also started working on a project related to generation of biogas with some of the people I met during the seminars.
At one of the seminars I was asked,”Would you start a business in a poverty stricken village in India?”. That made me realize, the key to success is to bring about a change that affects one and all.
For student startups it is essential to understand who the consumers are, what consumer needs will get satisfied, and depending on target market segment, figure out the best marketing strategy. Whether the product offers clear and compelling benefits at a price the target costumer is willing to pay in comparison to the solutions currently in the market will determine its feasibility. An entrepreneur has to come up with innovative ideas and also needs to sacrifice, works selflessly to implement so that it appeals the consumer. An entrepreneur never allows fear to overcome ones determination, is dedicated to ones work and believes in oneself. Team work, capability of taking the right decision at the right time plays a pivotal role while laying down the foundation as well as the progress of any business. It may take years for the business to earn profit. A diligent trustworthy member will never let the team down. One aspect the student must not think about is whether the business is economically viable or try to estimate its success beforehand.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre has decided to patent my project to bring it across to potential buyers. The process is at this stage today. The next few months will be a critical juncture for me. Whether I should pursue my masters or nurture my own business? It is the time when people think about placements and dream companies but I have the chance to do something else with my life.
I am a new born bird waiting to fly. The harsh sunlight, forceful winds and stronger animals will try their best to discourage me and I will never let them win. Whether a student startup is good or bad is answered by a single quote “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” Thomas Edison.

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