Archives: July 2015

Young Entrepreneurs- How these 20-somethings are making it BIG

Think big. Start young. Hire yourself.

How difficult is it to start early in life? With all the resources and support just a call away, starting young is the best thing you can do for your future.

We bring to you a little inspiration that can help you take the big step. Presenting superstars of the future.

1. Twice

bl1Twice founded by Calvin Young and Noah Ready Campbell.

Campbell says, ‘I remember I really liked Brooks Brothers shirts. I got one that had a $250 price tag on it for $10.’

Noah, a Chinese immigrant is from a small town and remembers that the only way he could afford to comply with his school dress codes was to shop at a seconds shop.

These early experiences, and their challenges with selling their used goods online, were the inspirations for Twice. “Noah and I were used to buying and selling things on eBay,” says Young. Their biggest pains were taking photos of items, answering a bunch of questions from the buyer, and shipping the goods. So, Young adds, Twice seeks to “abstract away all of that pain.”

The company allows sellers to ship a box full of laundered used clothes to Twice, which gives the seller a single, all-or-nothing offer for the items that were sent. If the offer is accepted (as it is in 97 percent of cases), Twice uses a proprietary software program called Vulcan, designed by Young, to take photos of the items, color correct the images, determine suitable prices, and upload the photos and descriptions to the Twice website. When Ready-Campbell and Young first got their idea, they wanted to determine if sellers would trust them enough to send their clothes with just the promise of possible payment. So they launched a rudimentary website, and when boxes of clothes started arriving, they knew they were onto something. They used investor funds to buy 1,000 pieces of clothing at Goodwill to prime the site, and the inventory sold down faster than they predicted. Today, the company buys items directly from sellers and the products are stored in the company’s warehouse and then shipped to buyers for just $4.95 per order, or free for orders over $49.

2. Enplug

bl2Enplug: An Operating System for Digital Billboards founded by Navdeep Reddy, Zach Spitulski, Nanxi Liu, and Alex Ross

Enplug was basically started with a motive to focus on digital signage – from jumbotrons in stadiums to TV displays in restaurants–because one unifying software platform didn’t exist for the medium. Smart billboards and jumbotrons, like the ones in Times Square, require expensive custom development work because there is no universal operating system that can host apps and commands. Think about how a smartphone would work without an operating system: You’d have to program every action yourself. Enplug’s operating system and app market help businesses get a display up and running, with whatever apps they want to use, faster and cheaper than before. “The technology for displays had not changed in decades, most were just running slideshows through PowerPoint,” says Liu. “It made no sense to us, especially looking at the evolution of personal computers to smartphones. We thought it was archaic.”

3. CoachUp

bl3Coachup founded by Gabe Durazo, Arian Radmand and Jordan Fliegel.

These young entrepreneurs have already provided coaches for 100,000 athletes.

Jordan Fliegel, founder and president of Coachup, wasn’t a great basketball player as a kid. Poor footwork. An average shot. He rode the bench for his high school freshman basketball team in Cambridge, Massachusetts, only faintly grasping the game’s fundamentals and nuances. It wasn’t until he met a coach at camp that summer that he began to understand what it took to succeed on the hardwood.

Three years after its launch, CoachUp connects over 13,000 trainers with more than 100,000 clients nationwide. The site vets each coach upon their signing up, then tracks reviews and response rates to ensure they remain up to par–providing athletes with an easy and safe way to improve their skill set. CoachUp offers specialties in 25 sports, from baseball and football to swimming and yoga. The company takes a small percentage of the coach’s fee for each session. In exchange it provides an instant payment tool, a session calendar, and $100,000 in liability insurance–not to mention a self-advertising platform that didn’t exist just a few years ago. The majority of CoachUp’s athletes range from grade school up through high school–a natural pyramid, as Fliegel points out, with the best athletes most likely to continue through high school graduation.

4. NatureBox

bl4NatureBox founded by Ken Chen and Gautam Gupta.

As a teenager, NatureBox co-founder Gautam Gupta was overweight, as roughly two-thirds of Americans are today. He ate poorly, and knew very little about dietary health.

Then, in his senior year of high school, he lost 70 pounds in six months: “I was fortunate enough to learn about nutrition,” he says.  It was a discovery that Gupta wouldn’t soon forget.

Years later, in 2012, after spending much of his career working for venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners, Gupta decided to quit his job and start a business with his best friend, Ken Chen. Gupta wanted to bring healthful, carefully sourced snack foods to consumers like his younger self. “Starting a company was an opportunity to combine a professional interest with that passion,” he says.

Consumers order from an online Snack Catalog, which includes nutritionist-approved items that cater to their dietary needs and preferences. Unlike some of his competitors, Gupta private-labels all products under the NatureBox brand, rather than sourcing them through third-party vendors. The ingredients come primarily from independent manufacturers and farms, although the company refused to disclose specific partners.

To date, NatureBox has raised $28.5 million over two funding rounds from investors Red Point, Canaan, and SoftBank, as well as from Gupta’s former employer, General Catalyst.  The company brought in nearly $50 million in revenue in 2014, more than double that of 2013.  NatureBox also boasts one million Facebook fans, and expects to ship as many as five million boxes in 2015. The company is projecting $100 million in revenue this year.

5. BucketFeet

bl5BucketFeet founded by Aaron Firestein and Raaja Nemani.

Unemployed and adventurous, Aaron Firestein moved to Argentina after graduating from college to study Spanish and volunteer with L.I.F.E. Argentina, a nonprofit that serves kids living in extreme poverty. That’s where he met Raaja Nemani, who had recently quit a job in finance to travel the world for a year. He and Firestein wound up at the same organization.

“We met playing soccer with street kids,” recalls Firestein, who had an artistic bent and had been drawing designs on canvas shoes since college. Nemani admired them and Firestein sold him a pair. And so the seeds for BucketFeet were planted. The partners didn’t go into business together immediately. Nemani wore the shoes on the remainder of his trip around the world, and found that his original footwear sparked conversation–and envy–wherever he went. “At the end of his trip, he approached me and said, ‘This is a cool idea, and we should turn it into a company,'” recalls Firestein, whose college nickname was “Bucket.”

The company now collaborates with more than 13,000 artists globally to produce canvas shoes with original designs. BucketFeet now collaborates with more than 13,000 artists globally to produce canvas shoes with original designs.

Have an idea that can strike the deal for you as an Entrepreneur? We say go for it! Give your leadership skills, innovation and dreams a chance. Passion and hardwork will always pay off. And remember, you are never too young to dream big.

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Innovations in Rural Entrepreneurship

The total population of India is approximately 1.28 billion people of which approx. 70% of it comprises of rural population. This clearly showcases that majority of people are residing in rural parts of India than in urban. Still entrepreneurship has remained a more of urban centric topic. But today we will focus on some of the rural innovations which will totally change this perception. Though a structured model was never in place to teach or practice entrepreneurship in rural areas, innovators were bound to innovate which proves the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’ right.

1) Cotton Stripper: The innovation of 60 year old ‘Manshukhbhai Patel’ a cotton stripping machine, branded as ‘Chetak’, brought about a sea change in the lives of cotton farmers. Earlier the cotton stripping was done manually by farm labourers which was harmful & led to a lung disease called ‘Byssinosis’

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Mansukhbhai a dropout of school due to poverty, continued to work in his cotton field and did many odd jobs and picked up mechanical skills by working as an electrician & mechanic in cotton mills. Mansukhbhai borrowed money from his friends & family to make a prototype of his first cotton striping machine, which is now marketed as ‘Chetak’.

2) Mitticool: Mansukhbhai Prajapati, again a school dropout joined his family business of traditional pottery making. But due to less returns in the business he discontinued it & started doing other odd jobs which landed him in a Tiles making factory. Here he got inspired to make pots from different clays & learnt to make efficient pots as compared to what he used to make earlier.

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Gradually, he started experimenting with his pottery making and created different vessels out of it like ‘MittiCool Refrigerator’ & non-stick clay tawa (hot plate). The clay refrigerator is used to store fruits, vegetables & food without any use of electricity. Mansukhbhai was able to commercialize his idea & has received over 25 awards till date.

3) Bullet Santi: In 1990s, Amreli faced severe draught like condition due to which tilling the dry land was costly & cost of manual labour rose. Due to shortage of fodder one Mansukhbhai Jagani was forced to sell his bullocks, as a result he was left with nothing to till his farm land. Jagani, previously worked as farm mechanic for repairing his diesel pumps. So he borrowed his friends Royal Enfield and tried connecting mechanical instrument of farm tilling to it & tried tilling land.

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He partially succeeded at it so he made some improvisation to it tried fixing the other tools & tackles in the bullet. As a result what came up was called Bullet Santi. The motorcycle had a 5.5 horsepower diesel engine and with the attachments it could be used as a multipurpose machine for ploughing, sowing, interculturing, spraying, insecticides, or a small goods carrier. Other farmers also saw value in his invention and started approaching him for similar solutions.

4) Biomass Gasifier: Raj Singh Dahiya born & brought up in rural India, just like many of his counterparts.Poor financial conditions refrained him from attending school. He worked in his farms with his parents, watering plants & looking after the livestock. Dahiya was very much inclined towards technology and was an avid listener of Gyan-Vigyan program broadcasted by BBC right from his childhood. He can assemble any given thing like watch & alarm clocks, radio or farm machinery. His interest in machinery led him to open up a workshop to repair tractors & farm equipments.

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But due to rise in fuel prices he was forced to think an alternative for fuel. Dahiya thought of an engine that could work on gas from farm waste. Initially the machine didn’t work properly and would shut down after running for an hour. But subsequently through his determined efforts he was able to fit in a fan based filter in the machine which in turn can be used to run machines through farm waste. So far he has sold 80 units of ‘Biomass Gasifiers’ of different capacity & is now supplying the steel based gasifiers as well.

Do you know any more mind boggling rural inventions? Share with us 🙂

 

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5 Things To Take Care of If You Are Into Family Business

Family owned or controlled businesses play a key role in the global economy. They account for an estimated 80% of companies worldwide and are the largest source of long-term employment in most countries. As per PwC’s latest global ‘Family Business Survey’, of the family firms surveyed, 65% of them reported growth in last one year (2014). And 70% are expected to grow steadily over the next five years.

But below are also some astonishing facts & figures which will blow your mind. The survey by ‘Family Business Institute’ focuses on the inheritance percentage of family business by their next generation which shows that only 3% of businesses operate into the 4th generation & beyond.

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So here are some cues which you can practice or adopt to make your family business a sustainable one.

1) Don’t Prejudice between Family vs. Non-Family: If you happen to run a family business then you would have to deal with two kinds of employees-1st one being your own family members or relatives & 2nd one being the non-family members. Always remember that you have to treat both of them equally. Because you doing favouritism to any of the side would demotivate the other set of members which could severely impact your business.

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2) Communicate Honestly: If you have someone working for you in the company, i.e a friend or a relative then don’t keep it secret; communicate it clearly with all the team members from day one. Or if you have an important update to share with team then make sure it is communicated to the team members at the same time without any discrepancies or delays. This will boost the trust factor amongst co-workers & the team will put in their trust in the leader.

Multi-Ethnic Group of Diverse People Holding Letters To Form A Honesty

Multi-Ethnic Group of Diverse People Holding Letters To Form A Honesty

3) Company Benefits: Let’s be a professional run company wherein we don’t pass on benefits or commercial gains to our relatives or family members just because we know them outside our company as well. If benefits are passed on in that manner then it should be for all and not for only a few set of people.

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4) Off the Payroll: Make sure everyone has roles & responsibilities in the company, if someone is not performing, then put them off the payroll. As simple as that. Even if they happen to be your near & dear ones. Equality & uniformity should persist for all the team members, irrespective of it being a startup or a billion dollar company.

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And last but not the least

5) Family Decisions Vs. Business Decisions: You should note that family & business are two different entities, while making important decisions pertaining to them. You should remember that family decisions & business decisions are a different ballgame altogether & should be dealt independently of each other. This one takes the real test of an entrepreneur.

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Let’s know your view about the article and if you have any points to add in. Your views are important & would be appreciated.

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Digital India & Entrepreneurship

With inauguration of ‘Digital India’ week by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, a new revolution has been ignited in the tech-startup world. The Prime Minister in his discourse at the inauguration ceremony assured full support to young entrepreneurs who wished to launch Start-ups in this domain and called upon the youth to innovate and said “Design in India” is as important as “Make in India.” He unveiled the “Digital India” logo and released policy documents related to ‘Digital India’ at the event in New Delhi.

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(Source: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting)

To encourage entrepreneurship at block levels in village, PM felicitated two women CSC village level entrepreneurs at the event (Common Service Centre, offers online banking services, government certificates and helps identifying villagers to various government programme). The Prime Minister emphasised on not allowing the ‘Digital Divide’ to become a barrier between people. Till now, less or no concern was shown towards promotion of IT sector, but now this gap will be bridged by the latest initiatives undertaken by government & will boost the confidence in tech-entrepreneurs to pursue new ventures in this domain.

Under ‘Digital India’ initiative, the government will connect the entire country through broadband by 2019. This project will make India a global leader of IT in services like health, education and banking & will make India Digitally empowered.

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The Nine pillars of ‘Digital India’ (Source: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting)

Many industrialists have also pledged their contribution to this project in order to make it a huge success & thereby empowering the youth, entrepreneurs & citizens of the country. For instance, Mr. Anil Ambani of ‘Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’ has announced that he will invest Rs 10,000 crore in Digital India programme. Sunil Bharti Mittal of ‘Bharti Enterprise’ has declared to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in next five years in digital space. Mukesh Ambani of ‘Reliance Industries’ has also pledged to invest Rs 2.5 lakh crore across Digital India pillars. According to a news report (by Times of India), India’s top billionaires pledged around Rs 4.5 lakh crore in all to projects related to Digital India, which could generate employment for some 18 lakh people.

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(Source: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting)

Several projects have been launched or will be launched that will empower the citizens of the country. The ‘Digital India’ campaign will affect the global business operations of the countrymen in the longer run and will ease the everyday lives of citizens.

With Digital Technologies like cloud commuting & mobile apps and various eCommerce platforms enhancing the user experience & proving to be of great support in fulfilling the daily needs & wants of people of India.  This latest initiative from government’s end will bring a new high in digital space and will open-up many doors for technocrats & entrepreneurs in coming years. With high numbers of youth enrolling to engineering courses & their natural inclination towards technology will surely do wonders in technology based startups.

Do let us know your views & comments on ‘Digital India’ & your plans, if any on how to capitalize this opportunity.

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