National Agenda for Entrepreneurship 2014

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”   - Martin Luther King

Remember the resolve Ranbir Kapoor has in his blockbuster movie where he means it literally and goes world-trotting, wonder what happens if this is applied to the ideas that your mind churns out… wouldn’t it be great if the bolts of amazing ideas keep striking us and we keep going places!

This 1st of November, IIFT Kolkata chugged out a new tradition of an event aimed at nurturing the spark of idea in a young mind into a wildfire of innovation. National Agenda for Entrepreneurship was organized by the E-cell at IIFT Kolkata which included guest lectures and national competitions where teams from all over India came up with mould-shattering ideas of there own.


                                                Inauguration of NAE by the Guests

Loading NAE 2014…

The event was opened by the E-cell IIFT Kolkata Coordinator Kunal, which set the stage for all things ‘entrepreneurial’.  


                                Kunal opening the Event

Dr  J.K. Seal, our esteemed professor at IIFT welcomed the guests and emphasized the need for entrepreneurship in today’s India.

“There is nothing in the world that you can’t do if you believe you can do it”

This might sound clichéd but when someone as experienced as the esteemed guest for the day, Anurag Batra says from the podium you better swear by it! Mr. Batra who is eternally on a quest for young people (and by young he means the people who want to innovate) launches into the mind of the audience with the omnipresent question of ‘why’. When you ask an entrepreneur is asked why, they always say its because they wanna be their own boss, he quips.


                       Mr. Batra capturing the attention of the audience

Mr. Batra interacted with the audience in his remarkably witty manner and his upfront and practical approach. He  ited the example of the ‘one pound fish’ man from Pakistan for his passion and doggedness.  In his words, “people take risks because they are allowed to fail!”

The entertaining speaker put forth a few mantras for us young-at-hearts, the words that rang loudest were:

“Mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open”

Of all those who walked into the event in the wont of inspiration, Mrs. Uma Venkatraman stood out. She wants to step into the adventurous world of entrepreneurs by dishing out professional personality development courses. The level of enthusiasm shown by her was unmatched. We hope the session inspired her but more than that we thank her for inspiring us all and proving to us that age is no bar to innovation. Dil to bachha hai ji!

Sanjeev Nandwani and very much a part of the IIFT family started off by quoting important figures from his end of line (read government data) that impressed on the need for encouraging entrepreneurship. He enriched the experience with anecdotes from around the world (after all IIFT demands ‘international’) which also came with a caution tag.  He elaborated on the substantive and procedure issues that come unbidden with any venture.


                                   Mr. Nandwani having an unadulterated attention of the students

“We are not as dumb as you think we are” quips Mr. Nandwani who talked of e-governance which is rapidly decreasing the un-ease of doing business in India. He goes ahead to identify areas such as tourism and cross-border online shopping that could benefit from the entrepreneurship wave. He also talked about outsourcing and gave a fresh perspective for identifying new opportunities: “Look for venture where you see a queue or middlemen”.

Yash took us all on time wrap to 2035 and focused extensively on the need for scaling up the recent wave of entrepreneurship and keep the fever high. An idea that struck a chord was that education can inhibit ideas and proposed a separate parallel system for training minds in the game and improving the quality thereof.


                                   Attendees at NAE 2014

Yash challenged us to think about risk. You would think starting business anew was risky but “education is riskier”; you never know what you would gain at the other end of the tunnel! There is no risk in it-claimed Yash. All you have to do is surround a person with other people who are eager to “jump off the roof”. The event had a deep impact on all the participants and the folks here at IIFT. A blazing example is our very own Priyank who was thoroughly motivated by Mr. Anurag Batra to JUMP IN!

After a brief hiatus for lunch, NAE started again with Prof Gautam Dutta of IIFT on the podium. Mr. Dutta possesses a great experience in the field of Entrepreneurship and he mesmerized the guests with his wisdom nuggets. He came up with interesting anecdotes he encountered while vouching for the culture of Entrepreneurship. “There is no dearth of opportunities in the country for entrepreneurs but the need of the hour is to promote an environment which promotes entrepreneurship” he told. He ended his discourse by saying that it’s high time that we have ‘Entrepreneurs by Choice’ instead of ‘Entrepreneurs by Chance’.


                                    Prof. Gautam Dutta sharing his experiences at NAE 2014

Following the spellbinding speech by Prof. Dutta, the most anticipated event of NAE: B-Plan competition was kicked off. The competition was of 10+5 min format in which 10 minutes were allotted for each team to present their ideas and 5 minutes were apportioned for Q&A. The panel comprised of Mr. Anurag Batra, Prof. Gautam Butta and Mr. Yash Saxena who were to judge the teams on the originality of their ideas, feasibility, risks involved and finances.

The shortlisted teams heating up the competition were from XLRI Jamshedpur, XIM Bhubaneswar, MDI Gurgaon, and IIFT. As the competition started, the judges were fascinated by the richness of the ideas that were showcased by the teams. While Martha Stewart was demonstrating an Indian version of DYI kits in one team, the other team came up with an excellent plan of overhauling the logistics and commodity trading platform for the Indian market.

      12                                                         Team from XLRI pitching their idea to the judges

Chaiwalas are a source of inspiration since Narendra Modi came at the helm of the country. A team, inspired by one such chaiwala working outside their campus, presented a brilliantly crafted idea. One team presented an idea to modernize a facet of operations of the construction industry and make it efficient.


  Brilliant B-Plans with well thought out strategy presented in NAE

No doubt by the time teams finished their presentation, the hall was brimming with high energy and was glittering with sparks of real innovation.


                                         Judges providing valuable feedback to the teams

The last leg of NAE commenced soon in which teams were invited to present their ideas on the Agenda: “What does the Indian Entrepreneur of tomorrow needs?” The competition too saw a healthy participation from teams of institutes like XLRI, MDI, NIT Jamshedpur, NIFT Hyderabad, Christ University Bangalore etc. While a Picture paints in thousand words, a video paints a million. Team from Christ University very well understood this and hence they started their presentation with an enthralling video on a theme “Do what you love, love what you do”.


     NIT guys presenting their idea to augment the entrepreneurial culture in the country

Challenges like Building trust, training the unskilled labour, addressing the lack of risk appetite, starting a single window registration for businesses and many other bottlenecks were discussed. As most of the participants were either head or member of E-cell in their institutes, they showcased their A-Plan (‘Action Plan’ termed by Yash) and informed the panel how they are promoting the cause of entrepreneurship at their levels along with the plans to scale it up further. In all, some quite unique suggestions after deep deliberations and preparations were offered by the teams deeming the task to identify the best team difficult for the judges.


   Best teams being awarded by Mr. Anurag Batra

With the conclusion of both the competitions, it was the end of ‘Whale of the time’ called NAE 2014. The first edition of NAE was well executed by the organisers Rahul Sharma and Kunal Malhotra of the senior batch. Contribution by the junior batch also deserves appreciation. We hope that the second edition of NAE would be bigger, better and pack fun million tonnes more !

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