IIM-A Students and Faculty ready for a Public Sector Stint!

Public Policy SIG of IIM-A conducted a panel discussion on the National Youth Policy draft bill that is to be tabled in the parliament next season. The panel was headed by Prof Anil K Gupta (Padma Shri award winner and founder of Honey Bee Network) and consisted of six students from IIM-A. Apart from students across programs of IIM-A, the event was also attended by faculty, Prof Shailendra Mehta and Prof Dhiman Bhadra. The panel critiqued the bill and pointed out several of its shortcomings like lack of concrete and radical measures to tackle problems faced by youth in skill development and entrepreneurship.

Prof Anil Gupta urged students not just to think what India can do for its youth but also what the youth can do for India. He floated the idea of three month compulsory stint for management students in public administration, public enterprises, rural or developmental sector, similar to the compulsory stint required for doctors. His idea was received with applause by the students. Prof Dhiman Bhadra joined the fray and suggested that IIM-A professors can also go on short stint to rural or developmental sector. The participants acknowledged that such stints will be very helpful for both faculty and students in getting to know the ground realities of India.

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The feedback and suggestions collated from the discussion are to be submitted to the government as a part of its policy consultation process.

Prof. Anil Gupta’s talk can also be viewed on  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcvcDd5JLNE&feature=g-user-u

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Dr. Sarah Cooper talks about technology innovation and entrepreneurship

In an event organized by the Entrepreneurship Club of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), Dr. Sarah Cooper, the Director at Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at the University of Edinburgh came down to campus to deliver a talk on technology entrepreneurship. She was accompanied by Professor Rakesh Basant, Professor of Economics and Chairperson, Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at IIM, Ahmedabad.

While delivering a talk at the CIIE, Dr Cooper brought some interesting research findings to light. She explained that the average age of the lead entrepreneur in the software domain is fairly young –  lower than other all other areas that are witnessing entrepreneurial bustle. “Principal entrepreneurs in the software domain start as early as 24 years of age”, she quipped. “This drastically goes up to 40 in case of biotechnology”.

She also added, “a  balanced team and strong industry connections – which are the essence of social and human capital play a key role in the startup phase”. Usually, magnet organizations – established talent hubs, help in forming a web of skilled credible workers and quality jobs. Magnet organizations also help in bringing the principal entrepreneur in contact with suitable team member. “It has been noted that even though the principal entrepreneur is younger, there need to be experienced members in the team to form the right mix.

“Cluster creation and growth are closely linked to entrepreneurship. Spin outs from such hubs provide the requisite knowledge base to start ups”, she added.

Her research indicates that the recessionary phase helps in bringing out the risk-taking ability of a knowledge worker to the forefront. This leads to more product innovations and subsequent boost in employment generation. The impetus for cluster development lies on the industry as well as the government.

In an exclusive interactive session with the students of IIMA, the entrepreneurial drive of the students was at the forefront as they posed compelling questions to Dr. Cooper. Technology – specifically in the software domain, seemed to be the running thread of the conversation.

The buzz around native app development ran high. However, Dr. Cooper cautioned technology-focused individuals to first develop a sound understanding of the customer needs and emphasised on the importance of feedback. She also laid stress on understanding the financial viability before undertaking projects in this domain. “A single app is not sufficient to spell success. You need to develop a range of products to realise profits”, she said.

She brought to light an interesting suggestion of collaborating with large firms by offering complementary products to ensure a continuity of sales.

She gave pointers on following a ‘service to product’ transition – initially selling software services to third parties, thereby gaining productive business insights and subsequently generating cash flows even before one goes out to launch their own products.

While discussing the activities of the university’s entrepreneur cell, she talked pooling of talent – collaboration between the tech students and the B-school students. She remarked, “A single set of knowledge base and skills is not sufficient to run a business efficiently”.

On being asked about the viability of a geographically distributed team, she mentioned that it poses both opportunities and challenges. In the initial phases of a start up, this poses a challenge. However, it stands at a litmus test of the commitment and work ethics of the team member. In the slightly mature phase, it acts as a boon for market penetration.

The student community at IIMA  expressed interest in setting up social businesses. Dr. Cooper advised them to formulate a sound revenue model – as the principles of business are essentially governed by sustainability for all businesses. At instances where the target customers for a particular models is not well-off to pay, it becomes imperative to work on a unique model for revenue generation. This could mean creation of an alternate revenue stream altogether.

For those gravitating towards the non-profit route, she suggested that there needs to be a compelling story that urges the audience to donate.

The talk ended on a high note, with her expressing strong growth projections of the technology sector in India and motivating students at IIMA to gain a head start in the same.

Paranjoy Guha grabs eyeballs at IIM-A

Independent journalist and educator, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta engaged IIM-A students on a debate about ethics in Indian television news on July 16, 2012. The session organized by Public Policy SIG of IIM-A started with the screening of Paranjoy Guha’s acclaimed documentary film “Grabbing Eyeballs: What’s Unethical about Indian Television News”.  This was followed by a short lecture by Paranjoy Guha on ethical problems in the Indian TV News industry.

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Apart from juggling his many roles in the media, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is also a visiting professor in IIM Ahmedabad where he teaches a course in Media Studies. The crowd was rapt with attention throughout the 32 minute documentary film. The event and the documentary film revolved around the ill effects of ‘over-competition’ in the TV News Industry. “Information has to be viewed as a public good. So market failure has to be addressed immediately,” Paranjoy argued. He further criticized the archaic TRP rating systems and urged for an independent regulator to resolve the issue. The discussion turned lively as students discussed their questions and concerns with Paranjoy. “It was great hearing Paranjoy Guha,” said Maruthi Raj, a second year PGP student. “He put his finger right on the core issue plaguing our media. Thanks to him, we were able to make sense of an otherwise chaotic industry,” he added.

Padmashree Prof. Anil Gupta speaks!

In a bid to encourage the development of leadership amongst the new entrants , the Entrepreneurship club of IIM A recently organized a talk by Padmashree Prof. Anil Gupta. The talk was meant exclusively for the first years as they prepare for the taxing year ahead. It was done keeping in mind that the students remain motivated throughout the year for pursuing their ideas and getting  a step closer to realizing their dreams. Says Dr. Punit G, co-ordinator of the Entrepreneurship club of IIM Ahmedabad who also has a start up in the pet industry, ”The opportunity to study in IIM A is achieved once in a lifetime and anyone with a flair for innovation and creativity needs to make the most of it.”

Prof Anil Gupta is the founder of honey bee network, wherein honey bee is a metaphor signifying the extraction of knowledge and facilitation of communication for ensuring a proper channel for diffusion of innovations in the informal sector. He is also a member of National Innovation council which is chaired by the advisor to Prime minister. His extraordinary feats include establishment of Soceity for research and initiatives for sustainable technologies and institutions(SRISTI,1993) ,Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network(GIAN,1997), and setting up National Innovation Foundation(NIF,2000) for promotion of grassroot innovations and its conversion into viable products.

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The talk by Prof Gupta entailed differentiation of leaders and managers and how this place gives one the opportunity to be a thought leader and not just a manager in the two year stint that each one has. Prof. Anil Gupta quotes “Experience is like a rear-view mirror. It tells us the road that we have traveled so far, but not where we should go”. He went further to elucidate the significance of new ideas and how important it is to do what you believe in and how it is ultimately up to a person to either look for jobs oneself or be the one who is in a position to create jobs for others. The students were infused with ideas about how to push their entrepreneurial streak and at the end of the talk they left all excited about following their dreams and realizing their true potential.Ankit Sisodia a first year at PGP says,”   I still haven’t decided what I would do after PGP in Management. I am looking for clues and hints everyday to make that decision. Prof. Gupta’s talk gave me one big clue to help me take that decision. The clue was that the work should be effortless.”