“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help us navigate a course to their destination.”
These lines by John C. Maxwell depict that Mentors have vast experience regarding the different horizons which can serve as guidance to the mentees and they prove to help make well-informed decisions while sailing unknown territories in the career paths. With a similar vision of providing accelerated, hands-on learning to aspiring entrepreneurs among students and empower faster headway toward venture fabrication, The Alumni batch of 1990 started a legacy project named as ‘Innovation, Development, and Entrepreneurship with Alumni Support’ (IDEAS). The program is superintended by Desai Sethi School of Entrepreneurship (DSSE) in which students partake in IDEAS gain experiential cognizance slants of startup creation and business lifecycles. They are guided in things such as ideation, teamwork, market research, product development, business model, project management, and interaction with professionals.
Ms. Anuradha Narasimhan, the class of 1990 representative herself says:
“The Class of 1990 has instituted the IDEAS Program for Entrepreneurship as part of their Legacy Project. We did this during our silver jubilee celebrations in Dec 2015. The objective of the program is in the name itself "Innovation, Development, Entrepreneurship with Alumni Support" - coined by one of the batch leaders rather succinctly. In the lead up to the silver jubilee, a group of us met with the IITB ecosystem - faculty, students, alumni, startups, investors, corporates, etc. and it became abundantly clear to us that IITB had made a mark in the entrepreneurship world. The moniker of Powai Valley has stuck! And we wanted to contribute financially, and our time and expertise to helping this grow. The two bookends of the IITB entrepreneurship journey are: e-Cell, the student body raising awareness and interest for entrepreneurship and SINE, the incubator at IITB which has grown from strength to strength. We found the gap to be in the path between the two and worked with the Desai Sethi School for Entrepreneurship and the Dean-ACR's office to create the IDEAS program with the purpose of strengthening the funnel of ideas flowing in and helping them become successful ventures. The IDEAS program under the aegis of the Desai-Sethi Centre for Entrepreneurship runs cohort-based ideation and bootcamp programs, accords mentoring support by alumni, and provides aid for business plan development and prototyping. Its primary role is ensuring robust pre-incubation of ideas by supporting and sponsoring project teams. We look forward to working with IITB to ensure that Powai Valley continues to grow and thrive.”
The program is organized across three levels:
Level Zero embraces several activities during the phase of self-discovery, ideation, and team establishment for an entrepreneur. It involves initiatives like Startup Clinic, Mentor Connect, Entrepreneurial Talks, Idea generation, and Startup Bootcamp.
Level One is a 3-month program for students to bring to light on unmet needs and to validate a solution concept. It involves data/evidence collection via observations and conversations with relevant stakeholders – potential users, customers, partners, and distributors to fine-tune problem definition and solution concept. So fundamentally the goal of Level 1 is to achieve a Problem-Solution fit. Still, some teams may be able to progress other tasks depending on the complexity of the idea and the endeavour by the team. They are provided micro-grants up to Rs. 50,000, which can be used for the steadfastness of customer discovery, demonstrating the POC or building an MVP and market validation.
Level Two is a 12-month program for student teams to flourish the basic paradigm of innovative concepts and discover the Product-Market fit. They are provided with micro-grants up to Rs. 200,000 to cover the expenses towards Proof of Concept (POC) / Mentoring by Alumni Program (MAP) building, the discovery of P-M fit, and market validation. The teams further locomote to either launch, get incubated, or raise early-stage speculation to pick up the threads of their ventures.
All the teams are provided with structured coaching, relevant knowledge, micro-grants, and mentoring to enable rapid breakthroughs from discovering unmet needs to headway an apt product and commercialization plan. Furthermore, this summer they instigate one more cohort each of Level 1 and Level 2 program which is to connect with IITB students digitally over the online semester and hopefully escalate our reach more than before to inspire and help more entrepreneurial students.
The IDEAS program came into full force since August 2018. Students have benefitted in finding their entrepreneurial drive, learned to choose an idea to pursue and figured out the right steps to create the venture. 19 teams have participated in two cohorts of Level 1 program and 10 teams were selected in the first cohort of Level 2. 10 teams out of these are still actively pursuing their ideas. In total, the teams have so far raised more than Rs. 12 Crore in grants, prizes, or equity financing beyond the IDEAS program. We see that there are many noteworthy startups out of IDEAS that decipher a real problem and have become even more germane in the post-COVID world. For example ‘HelpNow’ which is a med cab/ambulance provider reducing the exigency response time, ‘Apli.AI’ which provides a platform for companies to appoint from nationwide campuses digitally, ‘AiRTH’ which has prospered a quirky and highly coherent filter to purify the air and many more.
In this context, IDEAS had an eminent start over the last two years with a good response from the students, scholars, and faculty at IITB. Desai Sethi School for entrepreneurship (DSSE) and Entrepreneurship-Cell, IITB has also dispensed marvelous support to inaugurate the program and reach out to captivate students. The current cornerstone is to strengthen the program, dilate the reach within IITB, and focus more on certain aspects to reinforce the ecosystem for even preferable upshots. Till now 80+ alumni across geographies and batches have volunteered to mentor the aspiring entrepreneurs, which is a definite milestone. Moreover, they also welcome more alumni to join in this effort and getting them on-board to succor the startups in any way will be very obliging.
The work done by IDEAS is precisely commendable and is like a beacon of light that clears the vision and path of IITB students. We urges more alumni and interested candidates to join hands with IDEAS so that they can contribute more to IITB, society and trigger more students to become its part and bestow to the next generation when they become Alumni in the future.
To get involved in any manner with the IDEAS program, alumni can simply drop an email to email@example.com