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Why only doctors and engineers? Be an entrepreneur

Last updated on: April 2, 2012 13:06 IST

Why only doctors and engineers? Be an entrepreneur

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Shobha Warrier

As a charter member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), entrepreneur-turned venture capitalist, Sateesh Andra has been actively involved in creating a common platform for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academicians to interact and help build successful enterprises.

He has come a long way from being an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and spotting young entrepreneurs.

The latest project by the Hyderabad wing of TiE under Sateesh Andra is 'TiE Buddies', which is catching entrepreneurs when they are in school itself. It is a development program being run for them on the second Saturday of every month in Hyderabad.

The first session started in August, 2011 and the graduation ceremony will be held this summer.

Sateesh Andra talks about TiE Buddies in this exclusive interview with Shobha Warrier.

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Image: Sateesh Andra.


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What was the inspiration behind starting TiE Buddies?

I was in Silicon Valley, the hot bed of entrepreneurs, before shifting to India. If you look at some of the most successful companies from the Valley like Google, Facebook, Sun Microsystems, you will see that all were started by youngsters who were in college. They didn't have any industry experience when they started their own enterprises.

In today's time and age, with information available right at their finger tips, students are exposed to many trends and opportunities.

My inspiration was two-fold. One, encourage students who have ideas to start their own ventures. Two, make students aware of different career choices. I want the school students to move away from the stereotype of becoming only doctors and engineers. I want them to see the choices in front of them. I also want them to look at finance, marketing, sales, etc.

Entrepreneurship is definitely a career choice. You are building something of value and creating employment and wealth.

Whether you build a Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) company or a Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) company, both are basically entrepreneurship. Successful entrepreneurship does not mean you have to be on the front pages of newspapers or TV channels all the time.

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Image: A session for budding entrepreneurs.


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Aren't school children too young to think of marketing, sales, etc?

I do agree with the reservation but you look at a 11th or 12th class student, I don't think they are too young to think of these options. Yes, if you ask them complex marketing jargon, they may be at a loss to explain but basic concepts of marketing, advertising, etc are not too complex for them.

How did you select the students and schools to be TiE Buddies?

We announced the program in June 2011. The Indian School of Business (ISB) has been a supportive partner of TiE. TiE and ISB have made most of the school children in the city aware of this program and chose 40 students from 15 schools that include IB, CBSE, ICSE and local schools.

We selected them based on a simple questionnaire like asking them to write about themselves and why they wanted to be entrepreneurs, who their role model was, which sector impressed them, etc; I call it a Statement of Purpose.

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Image: Sateesh Andra talks to students.


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How did the students respond to the questionnaire?

I was very happy with their response. This happened before Steve Jobs died but majority of the students mentioned him as their role model.

Quite a few wrote Narayana Murthy's name. Based on the answers and our interaction with them, we chose 40 students. It was followed by an orientation session.

The biggest challenge was scheduling as schools have both 5 and 6 day weeks.

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Image: A session with students.


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What aspects of entrepreneurship do you teach them?

The curriculum stresses on exposure and awareness on entrepreneurship. The course started in August 2011 and will end on March 31, 2012.

We have 2-hour classroom sessions every second Saturday. Besides guest lectures, I also take classes. We give them an overview of entrepreneurship, all aspects of business, product and service creation, marketing, sales, finance, team building.

All the sessions are interactive. We also had four company visits of 3-4 hour duration.

By the end of the course, each student works on a business plan. At the graduation, they will revisit the Statement of Purpose (SOP) they have written and talk to us about what they have learnt. The best business plan will be submitted to the global business plan competition for students.

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Image: A session with students.

Tags: , SOP

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What do the students learn from company visits?

They get to learn about the company, its products or services, customers and business Model. Also they get to shadow the Management team.

Do you plan to replicate this in other cities too?

I plan to have another TiE Buddies program in Hyderabad next year. We will document what we have done so that others can replicate this in other cities. I like this happening in small towns.

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Image: A session with students.

Tags: , Hyderabad

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Now that the first year of TiE Buddies is getting over, are you satisfied?

It was a satisfying and challenging experience. The major challenge was to come up with a calendar that is acceptable to all students as some students had to appear for the Board examinations.

My dream is to see some of these young ones turn successful entrepreneurs. I tell them not to worry about failure.The aim of the program is not to make all the 40 of them entrepreneurs.

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Tags: , Board

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If one out of the 40 becomes an entrepreneur, will you be happy?

I would like to see 2 or 3 of them turning future entrepreneurs!

Why doesn't a Silicon Valley come up in India?

It took more than 50 years to build the Silicon Valley. Great schools like Stanford and Berkeley with a lot of focus on research, and venture capital and seed capital being available to a lot of adventurous kids - that was responsible for Silicon Valley to happen.

There was also a local market that absorbed the products. All these are very essential for something like Silicon Valley to happen.



Image: A training session


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