Studentpreneurs

What’s common among Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, apart from them being multi-billionaires? Okay, let’s add a new generation name – Mark Zuckerberg – to that list. The answer to this question is fairly well known. To borrow a line from Steve Jobs’ speech at a Stanford University graduation ceremony, the closest these billionaire entrepreneurs have ever come to a college graduation was when they were invited to deliver the convocation address to students at some of the world’s best universities. We’ve heard of so many such luminaries that dropping out of college almost seemed like a recipe to make it big in the world of business. But, what if you want to follow the standard path – complete your education, graduate and then start building your career? What if you want to take the middle path, where you decide to startup right after completing your college education?

In our cover story titled ‘Made on Campus’, Divya M. Chandramouli, Assistant Editor at The Smart CEO, takes our readers through the world of entrepreneurship development at India’s top educational institutions. We spoke to the heads of entrepreneurship cells (e-cells) and incubators at S.P. Jain, Mumbai, IIM-Ahmedabad, IIT-Madras and IIT-Bombay. We spoke to several entrepreneurs, engineers and MBAs, who took to building ventures from scratch, early on in their careers. India is still at the nascent stage of encouraging student-entrepreneurs. These e-cells and incubators play a key role in mentoring and providing guidance in the early stages. And as we already realise, new venture creation is at the forefront of contributing to a booming economy. Even if we’re not there yet, we’re glad India’s top educational institutions are taking steps to foster entrepreneurship.

After every edition, we receive a lot of positive feedback about our Starting Up and Growth Enterprise sections. These stories evolve from in-depth conversations with business owners who set out to build a product or service offering that is uniquely different. In this edition as well, we present to you, five such interesting companies – Mu Sigma Business Solutions, HeyMath!, Persistent Systems, Cane-o-la Foods and FlipKart. ‘Differentiation’ lies at the heart of each of these companies. While Mu Sigma created a whole new approach to business problem solving, HeyMath is working on redefining the way math education is delivered globally. Persistent Systems is a technology company that works in the outsourced product development space and helps its global clients build top quality technology products. Cane-o-la is in the business of selling a simple product, sugarcane juice and marketing a high quality hygienic food product is the key driver of growth for them. From pricing strategy to delivery mechanisms, each of these stories will share a lesson or two with budding entrepreneurs.

Also, in this edition, we put together a new section on leadership development. We spoke to Dr. Rich Wellins, senior vice-president at Development Dimensions International. Dr. Wellins has worked with India’s leading companies including Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Aditya Birla Group, helping them streamline their human resource functions. Our interview with him touches upon several aspects of talent management and leadership.

On August 15th, 2010, our 11th edition will hit newsstands. In the Lounge section, Kaushik Nadadhur pays tribute to this special day with an article that draws parallels between patriotism and company loyalty, with several interesting anecdotes from Indian cinema.

Here’s wishing you a very Happy Independence Day. We hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.