'These days, there are too many 'young entrepreneurs''
He chose to live life differently and had a deep yearning to do something constructive. At the age of 18 years, Samyak Chakraborty, who was studying at Jai Hind at the time, decided to set up Electronic Youth Media, a social networking portal with a seed fund of Rs.20 crore. A one-stop-shop for the youth, this portal offers concepts and ideas to companies for promoting their products and services. Five years down the line, and the portal already receives over 1.5 million hits per week.
This young CEO believes that one needs to think differently in order to succeed.
You established your company, Electronic Youth Media (EYM) at the young age of 16, what motivated you to start a business during 'the carefree years' of college?
Well, to be honest, there wasn't any one factor or individual that motivated me other than the desire to follow my entrepreneurial instincts. But apart from that I was very clear from the beginning that I'd never be doing a job for anyone. Hence, starting my own thing was the only option. Having said that, it's not that I had to sacrifice a good college life or anything like that. There was a good balance.
EYM is a one-of-a-kind concept. Can you tell us a little more about the company and its services?
EYM was started with the aim of using new media to engage young people for social change. We further then decided to use our knowledge of and connect with India's diverse young population to launch Concrea, a Youth Marketing and Research Agency which is now a part of the DDB Mudra Group. We consult brands on how to sustainably engage the youth.
EYM comprises 104 students as employees. Its services include a youth-related portal and a concept creation agency called Thinking Box. What sets it apart from other social networking portals is that it will be more user-friendly and productive for users. The stock-talk link on the website enables one to get familiar with online trading. Besides this, there is lighter information such as the Go Clubbing link where one can get acquainted with the night clubs across the city.
Image: (L to R) Vatsal Thakkar, (director), Samyak Chakrabharty, (MD), and Rishi Narula (creative head) of EYM
'The main challenges I faced were gaining investor confidence'
You say you've never been a 'topper' in school or college. How much has your education contributed to your success?
Well, the fact that my formal education was boring, out dated and the school teachers made it worse encouraged me to explore other ways of practical learning! So in a way you could say that stagnation in school did play a fundamental role in my "learning". Although I must mention that my three years at Jai Hind College's Bachelor of Mass Media were quite enriching.
What has the journey from the owner of a 'garage company' to becoming one of the youngest CEO's in the country been like?
Fun! Exciting! And Scary! Scary, because I've build my USP as a youth marketer. In that process, I haven't been able to figure out what I'll do once I actually cross 28 years of age.
What are some of the challenges you faced as a young entrepreneur?
The main challenges that I faced were gaining investor confidence; managing employees older than me; maintaining the balance between ensuring financial stability and growth, and also learning at the same time. In such a situation there would be little scope for mistakes.
Image: Samyak Chakrabarty, CEO, Electronic Youth Media
'If you are not an IIT, IIM or B-school guy, angel investments will be tough to get'
Apart from that, what are some of the other challenges young entrepreneurs are likely to face in this country
These days, there are too many 'young entrepreneurs'. When I started off, I could manage to arouse interest from those in power since there was a novelty value in a young kid starting up something. So the pressure to innovate will be on. Secondly, if you are not an IIT, IIM or B-school guy, angel investments will be tough to get. I am not professional at this phenomena but it has become an unfortunate reality. Apparently a strong GPA has become a benchmark to predict profitability (at least on the excel sheet) – another bubble that will soon burst.
Your success has inspired youngsters throughout the country. Is there anyone who inspired you when you were starting out?
You saw an untapped opportunity in the electronic media, which gave birth to EYM. In which area do you see maximum opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Education and Digital Space.
Image: (L to R) Vatsal Thakkar, Director, EYM, Samyak Chakrabharty, MD, EYM, Bhavyash Agarwaal, Director, EYM, Upasana Makati, Creative Manager, EYM
'Just believe, perform, fail and learn'
You founded the Young Changemakers Conclave, which recently celebrated its second year with a highly successful event. What was the idea behind the Conclave?
The idea was to create a platform where youngsters can engage with current day leaders from diverse fields to learn and be inspired.
With a long string of achievements attached to your name, what are the next milestones you would like to achieve?
I never plan. I do hope to join politics though. It's a great way to make a difference rather than just cribbing about the problems that our society faces.
What advice or tips would you share with aspiring entrepreneurs and the youth of India?
Just believe, perform, fail and learn.
My formal education was boring, outdated and the school teachers made it worse. This encouraged me to explore other ways of practical learning! So in a way you could say that stagnation in school did play a fundamental role in my 'learning'.
Image: Samyak Chakrabarty, CEO, Electronic Youth Media