Category Archives: STARTUPS

Start-up Stories of 24 entrepreneurs by a start-up author for start-up aspirants

In this age when most employees nurture a dream of starting a business of their own, and search for inspiring stories and ideas to begin a venture, Renji George Amballoor wrote a book about 24 successful start-up entrepreneurs in Goa. All of them conceptualised and began their unique business ventures before the start-up became a buzzword in India.  Renji George, a Professor in a Start-up college wrote the start-up stories to inspire student to take up start-up ventures. Since parents are unenthusiastic to allow their children to take a plunge into the risky start-up ventures, Amballoor felt the book will give the parents the courage to support their children. He put in lot of effort to meet the 24 entrepreneurs and to write about their success stories. Here is an interview with the author of ‘Driven by Passion’Renji George Amballoor, about the writing of the book and about start-ups in India:

Tell us something about yourself

Myself, Dr. Renji George Amballoor is a non resident Keralite (NRK), currently associated as Associate Professor & HoD, Department of Economics, with   Government College, Quepem, Goa, for last 26 years. Has a Doctorate degree in Economics from M G University, Kottayam and an Executive MBA from Goa Institute of Management (GIM). Was appointed as the officiating principal of a start-up Government College for setting up the institution.  I am also the recipient of the D D Kosambi Research Fellowship-2013 ( Sr. Category) awarded by Department of Art & Culture, Govt. of Goa & Dempo Research Fellowship- 2008  awarded by Vasantrao Dempo Education & Research Foundation, Goa.

What is the book about; and how did you start writing the book?

In all the stories, entrepreneurship grew out of their passion and dream to do something different.

The book is about 24 first generation entrepreneurs of Goa for sectors from sectors like agriculture, dairy farming, hospitality, drama, music, health care, culture, artwork, waste management, industrial designing, manufacturing, corporate training, information enabled services, etc. None of them had any family background in business. In all the stories, entrepreneurship grew out of their passion and dream to do something different. Their underlying philosophy is that of determination, positive attitude, simplicity and creativity. The narratives of almost all of them highlight the need for creative out-of the box thinking for transforming their challenges into new business opportunities. The objective of this book is to motivate and infuse students and youth into a culture of entrepreneurship & start-ups with local stories from their catchment areas.

After interacting with most of the students, who were first time learners, as the officiating principal of a start-up Government College, I felt the need for pushing them into the mainstream. Internship programme was something close to my heart and decided to implement it. It was easy assignment to convince the students into internship but the stumbling block was their parents. Their argument was that their ward had to travel additional 10 to 15 kms to avail the internship. The dissenting parents were made the champions of internship programme by identifying and narrating the local success stories. In a short period of five years, I had lot of stories to entertain the parents. With these stories in my inventory, I felt the need for documenting these stories for deeper penetration and wider reach.

Driven by passion Book by Ranji George Amballoor

Who are your target audience?

My target audience includes students and youth who generally queue up in front of government offices, industrial estates and foreign embassies. Many a times, they end up being employed at places, institutions and departments with no scope for expressing their creativity. By introducing them into the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship, the optimal utilization of demographic dividend can be ensured.

Give an example of one of the entrepreneurs from this book?

Stories of all the 24 first generation entrepreneurs are interesting but the outstanding among them is that of Late Prashant Shinde.  After securing a Diploma in Production, joined Pentair as an engineer, but his aim was to go to US. But his dreams were shattered with India test firing the Pokhran-II nuclear bomb.

Many times, he would be the delivery boy riding on the two-wheeler. As time passed by, he had clientele including Trans-National Corporation and today provides livelihood to about 54 families.

Disappointed at the turn of the events, he decided to do something of his own. Along with his friend Supriya, who later on became his life partner, carried out an extensive market survey and zeroed in on packaging industry but both were clueless about the sector. Prashant took a train to Dharavi, which had lot of informal packaging unit. He got employed in one of them as helper with an objective of mastering the machinery and its process. Impressed by his enthusiasm and efficiency, the owner of the unit made him an operator. After spending six months in Dharavi, he returned back with rich experience and exposure.  With a small bank loan, he purchased machinery but had to search for about 3 months to get a place to install it.  Along with his assistant, he started taking labour jobs for other printing units.  Many times, he would be the delivery boy riding on the two-wheeler. As time passed by, he had clientele including Trans-National Corporation and today provides livelihood to about 54 families.

He later became the president of Verna Industries Association, a period during which the infrastructural facilities expanded in the industrial estate. He was also instrumental in organising the first edition of business idea contest- ‘Kaun Banega Udyogpati’. He became a star campaigner for entrepreneurship awareness programme in colleges. His energy and dynamism would force students to wake from their deep slumber and on many occasions, he was asked to continue speaking which always extended into a standing ovation.

He had also expanded his business into areas like real estate, mining, etc. He had to wind up his dream project of constructing a low-income housing township. Without remaining disappointed, he continued his entrepreneurial journey with greater vigour and determination. While celebrating his 38th birthday, he had a massive heart attack and the state of Goa lost a champion of   entrepreneurship. Today, his legacy is carried forward by his wife Supriya Shinde.

Driven by passion Book by Ranji George Amballoor

Did they all begin their venture before the beginning of start-up culture in India?

The 24 entrepreneurs in my book started their entrepreneurial journey even before the winds of start-up culture could be felt. They started at a time when the thinking was orthodox and the society did not accept entrepreneurship as a viable source of employment.

What is the situation of start-up culture in Goa?

The start-up culture is slowly building up in Goa but the eco-system needs to be more conducive. The start-up culture which is getting popular in professional colleges should percolate into conventional non-professional campuses.

The schools should include success stories of entrepreneurs along with chapters on Saints, Scientists, Social Reformers & Political Leaders for inculcating the values of entrepreneurship from early ages.

The establishment of Centre for Incubation &  Business Acceleration (CIBA) at two locations, BITS Pilani Campus in Goa, Goa Engineering College &  Goa Information Technology Innovation Centre (GITS) have enhanced and nurtured the incubation facilities in Goa especially for the IT sector.

Policy reforms needs to be made to ensure our academic process and faculty are more start-up friendly. Incentive system and mentoring facility needs to be built in to our curriculum for attracting students into start-ups.

The schools should include success stories of entrepreneurs along with chapters on Saints, Scientists, Social Reformers & Political Leaders for inculcating the values of entrepreneurship from early ages.

What is the future of start-ups globally & particularly in India?

According to the Economic Survey released in 2016, India has 19,000 technology enabled start-ups. The future of start-ups is bright in India. With a population of more than one billion, the opportunities for start-ups are many. Over the census period, the rate of urbanization has skyrocket. With the increasing urbanization, problems have also witnessed an amoebic expansion. Problems needs solutions and this opens the floodgates of opportunities for start-ups.

The captains of the industry should come forward to mentor and guide start-ups into sustainable take-off. Further, it has become a craze among youngsters to tell that they are into start-ups without any tangible outcomes. Such a trend is also dangerous.

The global slowdown can actually boost the start-ups. With low and negative economic growth in many countries, the consumers are giving up their costly life style and looking for alternatives. The surge for options can fuel the start-ups globally.

You are the principal of a start-up college, a start-up writer writing about start-up and published by a start-up publishing? Was it a coincidence?

After interacting with most of the students, who were first time learners, as the officiating principal of a start-up Government College, I felt the need for pushing them into the mainstream. Internship programme was something close to my heart and decided to implement it. It was easy assignment to convince the students into internship but the stumbling block was their parents. Their argument was that their ward had to travel additional 10 to 15 kms to avail the internship. The dissenting parents were made the champions of internship programme by identifying and narrating the local success stories. In a short period of five years, I had lot of stories to entertain the parents.

At that point I felt the need of documenting them for reaching a wider audience and in the process became a start-up writer. Very soon, I realized that these stories were about how the entrepreneurs made their start-ups sustainable.

While scouting for a publisher, it was observed that their terms and conditions were unfavourable to start-up writers. A start-up writer is ignored, neglected and squeezed by established publishers. At home, almost every day we used to discuss my interactions with the entrepreneurs, their business model, problems, creative solutions, etc. Excited about the stories, my son decided to publish my book through his start-up – Rean Publication.

At the end of this journey, I strongly feel that it is a mere coincidence that the entire assignment revolved around start-ups.

What are your future plans?

The joy, satisfaction and a new identity emerging from writing the book is great. Writing takes one into a new world of networks and challenges.

Writing this book was a part of my academic social responsibility to the state of Goa and its institutions which has showered me with opportunities and nurtured me into what I am today. As a part of giving back to the society, my next venture will be to document the first time women entrepreneurs of Goa.

Free Wi-Fi in East Central Railway

Of all all the public places, trains are the most essential place that require Free Wi-Fi Connection. While travelling by train we have lot of leisure time. Anix, a global company has come up with an initiative to prove Free Wi-Fi to passengers in East Central Railways.

Free Wi-Fi will be provided for passenger of East Central Railways in a few months time. Anix is a leading multi interest global management, outsource, service and product distribution company. Anix in collaboration with ECR has been awarded a contract to provide free Wi-Fi service to commuters.

“The company will invest Rs 80 crore to set up the infrastructure,” said  Animesh Chaudhary, CMD of Anix, a company founded in Bristol, United Kingdom in 2010. Private ISP Network WebPass is partnering with Anix as the main licensee for providing content.

The free-to-consumer service will be launched in the second half of this year, it added. A spokesperson confirmed that an MoU was signed on April 15th this year for the same. He said the service will be free for customers and it will generate revenue through advertising.

The company said Wi-Fi service will ensure a 50 Mbps (3 times 4G) minimum speed to passengers devices while the maximum speed could potentially go up to 1.6 Gbps. Anix, said it already runs Wi-Fi on some PSU of India and will use a solution deployed on superfast rail networks to deliver high speed broadband internet experience.

ISP Provider Web Pass will be building the front-end customer interface as well as the content pipe. Users across ECR will be able to experience high speed broadband by logging onto the internet via a dedicated app. This app will also display the location, approach and destination hub on a real-time basis and help navigate between different lines.

Anix said it already has significant learning’s from the pilot project on many PSU.  Anix together represents six continents globally in co-operation with its partners. In 2010 Anix Group reached down to India and incorporated its first venture in the national capital of India under its flagship brand.

Print your ads on paper cups

In a previous post I mentioned how ‘peppy gifts’ are soon replacing business cards because gifts are a faster means to strike a rapports with the target customers. Now, Gingercups.com has cup up with a effective Idea for offline marketing of online companies. They print ads on paper cups to garner the attention and interest of the target customers. As soon as a company register with Gingercups.com they can decide on a tagline and design of the papercup. Now gingercups will print the cups and market them in offices, parties, colleges, etc. Gingercups makes attractive flyers too for the marketing camapigns.

PEPPY GIFTS BETTER THAN BUSINESS CARDS

The concept of Paper Cup Advertising

GingerCup’s marketing strategy entails bringing a brand into the limelight through exquisitely designed printed paper cups used for tea/coffee. The strategically designed quality paper cups feature the client’s logo, website address, offer code, contact details, etc. upon them. After getting designed, they are then printed and distributed for free where they are likely to come in contact with targeted audience. The expert team at GingerCup first decides the right set of people to target, the quantum of cups to be distributed, and the places where the cups are to be distributed. A purposefully designed quality tea cup gets the brand noticed and spoken about. People seem to enjoy every sip of their kick-start drink (tea /coffee) and thus spend ample to have it. So, while having it, they see an alluring ad right in their hand. Resultantly, it is not only welcomed but also shared further through word of mouth.

Enticing Flyers

Not all the flyers in the world are distributed with a strategy. GingerCup does it purposefully. It is beyond someone’s imagination how the booming online world can be a boon for an offline marketing campaign. Right from shopping clothes to give them for laundry, from buying books to ordering a pizza, everything is done online. We know everything which is bought has to get delivered at a customer’s place. GingerCup prints enticingly designed flyers that speak about their clients’ brand / product / service and all the essential information the targeted audience would require knowing about them. Having tied up with the delivery providers, GingerCup gets the flyers delivered at a place along with the products being ordered online. In a fit of excitement to open a newly bought item, people notice what comes along with it. It then makes it certain for the flyer to get read and create an impact about the advertised brand on the reader’s mind.

Carrying a distinctive strategic approach, these marketing methods are easy on the pocket and fertile enough to breed the desired level of brand recognition for an advertiser. Therefore, when there is every possibility of an online ad getting scrolled down, GingerCup’s potential ad weapons are hard to ignore. Indeed, it is something here to stay.

Peppy gifts better than business cards

To give a Business card or not to give a business card, that is the doubt nowadays.  Every business person has stacks of business cards which they have collected over years of networking for business purpose. Most of the time these cards do not come into any use.

Business cards are becoming nonexistent in many industries nowadays, as all you need to know is the name of the person and the company’s name.com for future communications. Every company has their social media accounts which make it easier and faster to develop communication.

When I went for the India Digital Summit, I realised that Peppy gifts rather than business cards struck the lasting humans connection.  The purpose of a business card is to remember the company and to maintain a  long lasting relation with them. According to me, there were two companies at the India Digitial Summit that left an indelible impression on the delegates.  They used some innovative methods that made their products more visible and paved the way for lasting relation with the participants.

Colour Code

Peppy gift

There was this company called Flock – a free chat service for work and business communication. Their colour theme, fluorescent green, was the colour code of their stall, uniform and the paper bags that they gave as gifts to the delegates. The fluorescent green paper bags were noticeable in every hall during the two-days conference. The colour was so striking that people inquired about where to get the kit. I too got one with the result that, two weeks past the event, my home still got a collection of fluorescent green Flock gifts – coasters, bag and stickers. I located their twitter handle and thanked them for the beautiful takeaways and thus a new connection has been developed with the company.

Smart Costume

peppy gift

NetCORE used a smart way to introduce their cloud-based, marketing technology platform- Smartech. There was a person in Robot Costume with Smartech written boldly on the Chest. The Red Robot walked around the venue. Anyone who took a picture with the Robot and posted it on Twitter had a chance to win an IPL ticket. I took a picture and posted it on Twitter. There were tweets and replies by NetCORE and finally I got an IPL ticket. More than the ticket I have made a connection with the organisation.

Certainly, a gift is an expensive substitute for a small and handy business card, but as technology and medium of communication is evolving day by day we need to find innovative methods to leave an indelible impression on those we intend to network for business.

5 entrepreneurial skills to Empower a startup

With unique ideas, innovative products, and fresh concepts, the Youth of today dream of achieving individually. Nowadays people are welcoming the Unbranded but qualitative products – with a seal of trust a guarantee.  Beginning an entrepreneurship in youth is best for the growth & development of any country mainly the developing nations.

Though you have ideas and strategies to disrupt the market, the significant and foremost thing for an Entrepreneur is to go through books of rules and regulations of law – the process of registrations, grants and working system.

It’s an approach to life that favours creativity over conformity and action over inaction. Bestselling author, investor, and entrepreneur James Altucher say that for him, “Being an ‘entrepreneur’ doesn’t mean starting the next Facebook. Or even starting any business at all. It means finding the challenges you have in your life, and determining creative ways to overcome those challenges.”

The entrepreneur or a startup has to Thinking Global while sustaining local. There are many things in their thoughts – value proposition to building an effective team, including a month to month survival, growth, action-oriented task, Government Clearance. It’s like you’re the bread, you’re the jam and the coffee -on-time for the company’s existence? What can the entrepreneurial fellow/ team focus initially? What are the skills they should possess for a startup.

Apart from one’s terrific idea, awesome product, and hard work, we are aware at the end of the day we just need to match the taste of consumers. We must supply as per demand, modify as per requirement; moreover, we must inform the customer what Unique product we have to offer.  One must develop a few skills for being a sound Entrepreneur or to run a great startup business venture.

Here are below listed few essential and primary skill for a successful entrepreneur and smooth running of the startup.

Ability to manage financial records

Any business is just an efficient strategy of money in and out flow operates successfully and efficiently. Being a startup and more over if you are co-partnered with one or two, accounting each money is paramount. The inward and outward flow should be positive on records as planned.

Be Productive

Being productive is crucial which requires smart working and managing multiple tasking accurately and efficiently. Notice and learn ways of being more productive, adapt tools and working methodology which suits best to you and your startup.

Effective Team Management

Human resource is the primary strength of any startup. Since one cannot have a lot of people hired for many different tasks, employ efficient work oriented skilled members in the team to increase the success and growth chance by 50%.  Also, it helps your start-up to move in the right direction and shall increase the commitment level of staff and your client base too.

Dealing with failure

No business venture is a straight line to success; knowing how to handle ups and downs is crucial. Remember that every successful person failed many times before getting a win. Failure is not the end – it is just gaining experience on the way to success.

Best in Communication Skills

A foremost  Entrepreneur must have or acquire communicative skills- from listening to the customer feedbacks, suggestions by well-wishers and clarifications by funders.  Communicating in a satisfying way to their requirements makes a happy and healthy, enduring relationship. It also works wonders in your order conversion, sales, negotiations and lots more.

About the Author:  
Bipin Ram Agarwal
Dr. Bipin Ram Agarwal is a serial entrepreneur from a very young age. He is the Cofounder and Director of various companies and guides Start-Up Companies and Entrepreneurs in empowering them to run the organization successfully. He is also currently serving as President of Agrawal Samaj and different social organization. He has awarded with Agrasen Ratna, Vishista Nagarhik 2015 from the Prashanth Goenka Group of Companies recently for his services. info@bipinramagrawal.com.

 DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author’s own.