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October 12, 2011

Be an Entrepreneur-Create Jobs instead of finding one

As you approach the final year of the college life, the career part of the mind will be busy exploring all options. A good CAT percentile leading towards an IIM-MBA loaded with moolah, or a Master’s in the US ? Or just a good campus job. And for some, just some, chasing their dreams of may be a PhD or teaching or higher education, purely as an intellectual pursuit in a chosen field of interest. In the much-pursued search how often do people actually “choose” what they want? How often do they “seek” what they want, in an area they want?
Granted, there is social respect that comes with a good job (read- good pay) in a good (read, well known and recognised) company. But still, aren’t there other options? If you can’t find a job or company that is in line with personal interests and likes, can you “make” a job yourself? Maybe you are your best Manager! This is what start-ups are all about - Chasing a dream. And not depending on anyone else or any company to realise your dreams. Create a product or a business instead of just helping build one.
Creating jobs for instead of just filling one job in a company. Creating one’s own IP (intellectual property) as opposed to just working for a larger company helping them build their IP or products. Or worse, engaged in just services for global clients, with no IP created nor retained.
For engineering and business students, the options are even better. If in the pre-final year you can think of some interesting ideas and get a basic validation, you can start working on the initial prototypes in the summer vacation. And with this experience and insight, you can tweak the plans and work on it as a final year project. Put in that extra effort, more than what may normally be needed just to fulfill academic obligations.
Basically concurrent to the final year in college, at no additional financial cost, and maybe just additional time investment one can get the first serious version of the idea or product built. And use this to get some validation from VCs, entrepreneurs and others in that domain.
Much easier to get the attention of these experts if one has a prototype to show, rather than just discuss an idea on paper or using slides. The advantage of doing this is that the decision to embark on own venture or start-up as opposed to taking up a campus job is now much more informed and with some much usable validation. Validation of the idea. Validation of the feasibility. Validation of business possibilities. And most importantly, the Validation of the team’s interest and if it stands the test of time without fading away.
At this point or closer to this point, just before graduation you can approach either the incubation centre in your college, look for e-cells in the city or even programmes like HydCubator (IIIT-H) or iAccelerator (IIM-A). All of these can help with the process to validate the idea and the prototype and help make the decision to go forward to make it a full-fledged start-up. If the prototype is good (which it will be if serious effort went into it), you can even get some initial angel funding that will help seed the effort. Maybe get a few more engineers to join the founding team. And accelerate the process to the first serious version of the idea/product and get some customer validation, which will be key to raise more angel money and eventually onto VC money.
The ecosystem is also rapidly getting in place. From start-up events to academic incubation cells to e-cells driven by organisations like NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network) to angel networks and lot of willing entrepreneurs available to mentor. It’s a great time to think about it. Go. Chase your dreams. Create something!

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