Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Startup Management-- can it be taught?

Startup is the new buzzword. 
"Hey Dad I want to set up a startup" said a 20-year old graduate brimming with confidence.
"You switched job? Yes, I now work for a Startup!" was the response of a 30-year old former manager of Amazon.

This is not fiction. Startups are happening. It is the trend for today's ambitious youth. Be it Bengaluru, Gurgaon or Hyderabad, startups are being setup everywhere. Even the government is encouraging the startups in many countries. In India, both the central government and state governments have set up machinery to help the startup movement thrive. T-hub in Telangana is an excellent example. Similar startup engines exist in other countries.

Ghumakkad in his role as a teacher, was fortunate to launch a new course on 'Entrepreneurship and Startup Management' this year. It was taken by all the 70 students of two-year full-time PGDM program of Vishwa Vishwani Institute of Systems and Management (VVISM) Hyderabad. Run in the 3rd semester, the students had just returned from their summer internships. Having seen real life, they added value to the discussions in the class.

Designing a new course was not new to Ghumakkad. Having designed and conducted a new course on 'Social Entrepreneurship' in recent past, it was a challenge renewed. Taught to more than 200 PGDM students with field projects in 30 different organisations, it had given us lot of lessons. But an inter-disciplinary course of this nature can not be designed and conducted by one individual. Even for the course on 'Social Entrepreneurship' number of people had helped us create the course. Ghumakkad is grateful to the following for their contribution to the Startup course-- the students too deserve credit:

Coming to the question-- 'Can Startup Management be taught? Startups thrive on Innovation. Therefore, a course on Startup Management has to be innovative it its design and delivery. Some of the innovations which we introduced in the Startup course are listed below:

  • Startup Bites: An exclusive media bite by startup founders using WhatsApp. Recorded live based on our questions, it added realism and value to the course. We thank the following founders/others for their time and effort:

  • Do-it-yourself (DIY): While learning the tools like Business Model Canvas (BMC), each student had to create the BMC for an Indian startup. We thus created 70 BMCs of real-life startups.
  • Live Cases: Instead of conducting the case studies in the conventional manner i.e. circulate the case which is generally outdated, prior study, class discussions and lessons-- we went the 'live' way. A 'live' startup was selected for case discussions with internet access on-line. It generated lot of excitement besides experiential learning. It was wrapped up with 'live' bites from the founders.
  • On-line Rewards: Outstanding performance was rewarded with on-line coupons worth US $50 each for as many as six students. We acknowledge the support from Naman Munot in this regard.
  • Business Plan Contest: Every course on Entrepreneurship has a B-Plan contest. So, what was the innovation? The innovation was in designing a multiple-stage contest, applying a mid-course correction and jury which consisted of angel investors and founder CEOs.
  • Rubrics-based Assessment: Did the students really learn? Were the learning objectives achieved? We designed the rubrics for measuring the level of learning achieved by every participant. Although rubrics based assessment is widely used in USA and Australian universities, most Indian universities still use the traditional method of exams-answers-marks, which may not reflect the true 'level of learning' achieved by the student. We will share some extracts of rubrics based assessment later.
What were the Learning Outcomes (LOs) for the course?

Key Topics
The course covered the following key topics
  • Identifying the opportunity
  • Converting Idea into reality
  • Lean Startup
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Funding sources
  • What does a VC want
  • Angel Investing
  • Valuation of Startups
  • The Pitch
  • Business Plan
  • Exit potential
  • Learning from Failures
  • Contingency Plan
Did the students really learn?
Based on above LOs, nine sets of questions and corresponding rubrics were designed. These were administered on-line in complete anonymity to maintain objectivity of assessment. All the students responded. Summary of their response to the first two questions is given below:

As can be seen from the response, fairly high level of learning was achieved in the inaugural course on Startup Management. 

The B-Plan Contest was organised by the students and was the most-liked part of the course. What did they learn from the Contest?
 Here are few glimpses of the B-Plan Contest.

You may browse a short 8-second video clip of one of the Pitches.

 The winners were announced by the Jury themselves. Here is a short video clip of Dr Nandita Sethi doing the honours.

Hope the question 'Can Startup Management' be taught?' has been answered with an emphatic yes!

Thanks much PGDM Class of 2018 for making it an enriching experience.
Ghumakkad is happy to post this story to coincide with the forthcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) being held in Hyderabad from 28th to 30th Nov 2017. The GES will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India and the US Delegation is being led by the high profile Ms Ivanka Trump. So our contribution in giving a thrust to Startups and Entrepreneurship education has been both timely and pertinent.

To all the readers-- many thanks for browsing.

    -  Harsh-the-Teacher and Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 22nd Nov 2017

#Startups #StartupManagement #StartupEngine #Incubation #Entrepreneurship #AngelInvesting #ValuationOfStartups #ExitPotential #StartupIdea #BMC #StartupFailures #GES 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

BITS 1970-75 The Giving Batch

“You all have made me ten years younger” quipped my 90-year old father when informed that he was being felicitated by a group of alumni of BITS PilaniHe was among 10 former faculty members/staff who had been selected for Guru Dakshina गुरु दक्षिणा felicitation for the year 2017. Literal translation of guru dakshina menas repaying the teacher. But as you will agree, we can never ever repay a teacher- be it school, college or university or even our sports or dance teacher!

Guru Dakshina programme was started in 2009 by the batch of 1970-75.  After forming a trust this batch has honoured a total of 40 former professors and staff who had taught them at BITS Pilani.
Almost every graduating batch during their Silver Jubilee Reunion 
felicitates their former teachers. So what's the big deal? The big deal is to carry on the felicitation and keep honouring former gurus even after 42 years of graduation! It is notable indeed. The BITS 1975 Trust also supports BITSian startups and entrepreneurs.

The batch of 1970-75 is unmatched in this respect. Each of the 
Gurus is honoured with a citation, a shawl and Rupees 1 Lakh as 
a token of appreciation by the alumni batch. During the years 2009 to 2017, the Guru Dakshina ceremony has been held in various cities in India as well as Dubai. The former Gurus being honoured are invited to attend the function along with their spouse and hosted for the event. This kind of honour and felicitation spread over a decade and continued even after 42 years of graduation appears to be unmatched by a single batch from any university anywhere in the world!

Full marks to 1970-75 buddies! I would like to give them the title 
of ‘The Giving Batch’. Giving not just the cheque but the respect 
and honour which matters. And probably that's what prompted  my 90-year old father to say that he felt younger because of the 
honour. Hat tip to you guys of 1970-75!

This year’s function which was the last in Guru Dakshina series 
was held in Bangalore. Since my father could not undertake the 
travel from Jaipur to Bangalore I had the proud privilege to represent him at Guru Dakshina function. It was most humbling experience for me. Here are some pictures of the event which speak for itself. Being techies of repute, the stage had no flexi banner or signage. It was all soft! A large scale LED display on the stage made an impact. The whole event was webcast and streamed live for other BITSians across the globe. Bravo Dr Vijay Chandru and his creative team at Strand Life Science.
An e-invite had been created for the event. BITSians of other batches in Bengaluru had also been invited.

Representing my father to receive the citation and Guru Dakshina was most humbling experience for me.

Am sharing below the Citation in respect of Shri Amar Nath Bhargavamy father. Many BITSians from the batches of 1959 to 1993 would have met him at Pilani campus.

"Shri Amar Nath Bhargava comes in for a heart-felt recognition, unstinting praise and accolades by all the students of Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani.

Born in April 1927 Shri Bhargava did his post-graduation in 1950 in Commerce from the Allahabad University, Allahabad.   He took up teaching and was a faculty at the Harish Chandra College, Varanasi for 9 years.   He authored a book on Economics which was prescribed as a textbook in the Uttar Pradesh Board of Education and was reprinted several times. He joined the then Birla Engineering College (BEC) (now BITS) in March 1959.   He served BITS for about 34 years in various capacities before superannuating as Registrar in 1992.   The first Degree certificates of BITS were signed by him. He had also conducted the first convocation of BITS.   He was the Registrar of BITS, Pilani for close to 20 years.

During his long and selfless service to BITS, he was closely associated with various landmarks and events like formation of BITS, development programs prescribed by AICTE, granting of deemed to be a university status to BITS, management of Ford Foundation grant, academic restructuring, dual degree programs, introduction of Practice School, distance learning programs, streamlining and manual cross referencing of the records (in the absence of computerization in 1960s) of the General Body, Board of Governors, Senate, Research Board and Building & Works Committee till he retired, maintenance of complete academic records and issuing of timely Degree Diplomas, issue of provisional degree certificates and transcripts etc. He was the Secretary of the Managing Committee of the BEC and also of all the statutory bodies of BITS.   He was known for his positive attitude, meticulous work and empathy for all.

He was honoured by BITS for "Seminal Contribution & Distinguished Services" at its Golden Jubilee Celebrations held in Pilani in August 2014 by the then Vice-Chancellor.

Shri Bhargava was loved by the students as well as the faculty members.   He was more than a 'local guardian' for generation of students. Their parents still keep in touch with him. His house in Vidya Vihar campus was 'home' to successive batches of students.

By God's grace, Shri Bhargava completed 90 years in April 2017. Post retirement, he lives in Jaipur."

Here is a recent picture of my father Shri Amar Nath Bhargava
The acceptance mail from Dad
My Dear Chiranjeev Dinesh,

        I thankfully and gratefully accept you kind invitation to attend the "Gurudakshina 2017" function being organised by the "BITS 1975" batch of students to be held at Bengaluru on 22nd October 2017.

        It is overwhelming and heart touching to say that perhaps it is for the first time in the history of BITS that a person from Administration like me has been selected to be honoured along with the Gurus by a particular batch of students. It is something great and becomes of your batch-mates. I have no words to express my gratitude to you all. You all have made me feel ten years younger by honouring me.

        However, I gratefully accept your graceful, thoughtful and unique decision.  But I sincerely regret to say that due to my frail and poor health at this ripe old age of 90+, I would not be able to present myself in person to receive the precious "Gurudakshina'.   Please request all concerned to excuse me for my inability.   I would have loved to be with you all, but it is not to be.   Please remember me to all other recipients of Gurudakshina specially to Prof. Gopalan. 
       Thanks again.

        With love & blessings.

                                                                                            (Amar Nath Bhargava).

The formal Guru Dakshina program was followed by a musical evening with performances of BITSian stars of yesteryears.

The fatigue of 600-kms long drive from Hyderabad to Bangalore to attend the Guru Dakshina and return next morning was worth it. I could meet former Gurus whom I hadn't seen after graduating in 1973. Highway drives in India are always fun. Though Ghumakkad hadn't carried his DSLR, he could capture some momments of life on a highway in India.

Thanks much Dinesh Sharma and his batch buddies for all the arrangements. 
Here is a picture of some of The Giving Batch and their spouses. God bless you all. 

Ghumakkad is also a BITSian but two years senior to the Giving Batch. Hail the Giving Batch!

     -  Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 12th Nov 2017

#BITSPilani #JoyOfGiving #GuruDakshina #BITSAA#RememberingTeachers #BITS1975Trust #GhumakkadHarsh #GhumakkadHB #TheGivingBatch