Start Up

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Agency: DNA
Entrepreneurship is crucial to create gainful employment and economic empowerment, says Bharat Desai, co-founder and chairman, Syntel, in a chat with Prachi Rege

Why did you choose to fund a Centre for Entrepreneurship at IIT-B?
When I was 11 years old my family moved to India from Kenya. Joining the IIT-B was a turning point of my life. My entrepreneurship journey started at this very campus when I was an Electrical engineering student. This convocation hall, takes me back to the time when me and my batchmates experienced all kinds of emotions—joy and laughter during a weekend cultural performance or movie; panic, stress and blank stares when we took our exams as fresher. So it was clearly time for me to give back to my Alma Mater. What better way to do this then fund an Entrepreneurship Centre, that will take the institute's already existing entrepreneurial framework several notches upwards?

What is the aim of the centre?
Just like Stanford university was instrumental in creating Silicon Valley—a world famous haven that made start ups not only challenging, but a glamorous job, I want IIT-B to play a similar role in India. Thanks to the Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) it is already a hotbed for innovative thinkers. Through the Centre, we will translate these ideas into viable business ventures. The aim is to train aspiring entrepreneurs in creating, redefining and building cutting-edge products and services in the market.

What activites will be conducted at the centre?
For students to explore their innovation, a research laboratory in various disciplines will be setup. This will also help in prototyping and proof-of-concept testing. New courses like—innovation and creativity, valuation of new ventures, growing start-up, entrepreneurial marketing, regulatory issues affecting the markets are on cards. These courses will be offered through the School of management and Industrial Design Centre. Faculty of IIT-B and visiting professors from international institutions will be the trainers here.

What skills make for a good entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs think differently, they are not afraid to challenge conventional ideas. From Christopher Columbus to Mark Zuckerburg every inventor, innovator and entrepreneur has followed this mantra. Each one of them took a leap of faith. It was in their DNA to deal with uncertainty and overcome the same. A leap of faith is critical to an entrepreneur's journey. Business world is like poker, everyone is betting on the future. A good business person will always trust his/ her instinct.

What are the dos and don'ts of the start up world?
A big idea is essential for a star-up. It is fundamental that one must be aware of the impact one's business idea will have on the customer. Constantly think about what's your edge over your competitor? And what are you to your customers? Since setting up an enterprise of your own is like swimming against the tide, make sure you stay away from naysayers. Your board of advisors, should be people who will give a honest opinion and not the ones who are 'brand names' in the business world. Make sure you build an institution and avoid making the most common mistake of setting up a 'founder's trap'—making the company dependent on yourself.

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