ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR ENGINEERS
A number of colleges in the country have a functional Entrepreneurship Cell (E-cell) on their campus that empowers students. Karthik, final year student of Anna University and founder of jujube says, “I had old engineering books, piling up in my room. A friend of mine and I created a forum where students inside the University could trade their books and we get 10 per cent of the transaction.”Jugaad, the E-cell of Anna University, runs ‘Start-up Saturday – Chennai’, a structured meeting conducted on the second Saturday of every month with expert speakers. ODePo.in – Online Design Portal, is a website that aims at crowd sourcing designs — is run by six students from the pre-final year of Anna University.
SSN College of Engineering boasts of a very active E-cell, Lakshya. In collaboration with National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) Chennai, they organise events that help students get a better understanding of the basics and provide a platform to showcase their business ideas. Lakshya, in conjunction with other colleges’ E-cell in the city has hosted NEN First Dot – A student start-up showcase. SRM, KCG College of Technology, MNM Jain and Anna University are some of the engineering colleges that have been an integral part of First Dot. Indian Institute of Technology – Madras has a plethora of events organised by its E-cell, C-TIDES. Lectures, workshops and panel discussions along with events where one could show case one’s business plan are organised all-round the year, with equal emphasis on business and social enterprises.
Most students admit that the E-cells inspired them to think beyond the usual, look around for opportunities and catalyzed the execution of the ideas. With educational sessions, discussions and an efficient staff member, technical help is available aplenty. Prof. L.S.Ganesh, dean of students, IIT-M remarks, “E-cells are healthy as from a larger angle, entrepreneurship is an important component of economic growth and young people think in dramatically different ways.”
When asked about the phenomenon becoming more common than it was ever before, he says, “Students today understand the socio-cultural environment better. They understand risk, market situation and identify opportunities to grow.”
Students are optimistic about continuing with their venture after graduation. Kedar Kulkarni, startedLema Labs, as a student of IIT-M. After graduation in early 2012, he chose to stay with his venture, refusing placements.
The initiative is now incubated by C-TIDES. However, Chennai is not alone in the race.
BITS Goa, Vellore Institute of Technology, IIT Kharagpur, ISM Dhanbad and many other colleges across the country are actively involved in E-cell in their institutes.