'Entrepreneurship is not taught in a b-school'
An engineer from IIT-Guwahati and alumnus of IIM-Bangalore Deepak Nanwani opted out of placements to start on his own. While two of his earlier ventures did not take off as planned, he's learnt his lessons and wants to revive his success with the third one. Read on
The education sector which is said to be one of the fastest growing sectors in India, has come up as one of the favourite choice for the budding entrepreneurs over the past few years.
Among the handful of IIM graduates who opt out of placements is Deepak Nanwani -- an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore-- who rather wanted to start something of his own.
Deepak wanted to bring a change in the way students study for the competitive exams.
While his first two ventures were modelled on the lines of social community blogging, that touched upon issues ignored by the mainstream media, for his third venture, the chemical engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati, Deepak Nanwani is working on Techathene Solutions, a start-up that aims to create better learning solutions for students.Prior to his postgraduation, Deepak had also worked for two years as a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Here, he talks about the motivation behind the idea, the mistakes he made in the journey so far and his plans for the future.
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Image: Deepak Nanwani
'Having some of the smartest people backing you is always a big confidence booster'
What was the motivation behind starting Techathene Solutions and what is its vision?
The motivation was to use technology to provide better learning solutions for the education sector in the country. Techathene is derived from "Tech" as in technology and "Athene" from Athena -- the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilisation, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.
We are right now dealing with the competitive exams preparation space (focussing on the GMAT and CAT to begin with). Later, we plan to include other exams as well.
The vision is to create tools that help people prepare better for competitive exams in India. The long term vision is that we want to change the way India studies -- create more personalised technology based solutions for people to study smarter.
Do you think brand of an IIM makes the things bit easier for budding entrepreneurs? To what extent did IIM Bangalore help you in your venture?
Well, the brand definitely gives you a lot of confidence in yourself as well as a lot of courage to take that plunge into entrepreneurship.
At the same time it is a challenge to unlearn quite a lot of what you have learnt till now and then start learning again -- this is because entrepreneurship is a different ball game slightly and the skill set you need there is not taught in a b-school.
However, I believe the basics of business administration (at least the theoretical base) is something that the IIM-B has given me and that is helping me quite a lot.
At IIM-B, my friends, my peers as well as a few faculty members (with whom I discussed my future plans) were very encouraging and helped me with a lot of new ideas.
I know I can always go back to my peers as well as my alma mater -- having some of the smartest people backing you is always a very big confidence booster.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
'Having a team that is as motivated as you about the idea is always a great boon'
How risky do you think it is to reject the lucrative job offers and decide to start something of your own?
There are many risks involved -- bank loans, you are leaving plush job offers (a comparatively risk free lifestyle). You would be bootstrapped for the initial few months -- so there is a sudden change in your lifestyle.
All this definitely creates a certain risk factor with starting up something of your own. But then, the long term viability of the idea matters a lot.
What advice would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs?
This is my third attempt at a start-up. One key thing that I have learnt is that having a team that is as motivated as you about the idea is always a great boon.
It helps to have a team of 2-3 people when starting up -- helps in bouncing off ideas, discussions, generating alternative plans and better management of all the aspects of a company especially in the beginning when you have limited resources and you do most of the work on your own.
Also, follow your heart. If you believe in the long term viability of your idea please go for it. A support system around you helps a lot. My parents, my family and my co-founder Rohit Gulati were a big help in helping me take this decision.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh