Q & A: Tapping the youth for fresh ideas
Conceptualise a radically innovative idea that could revolutionise business. Formulate a business plan that could woo venture capitalists; that could rain money; an idea that spells success. The recently held Business Plan competition, Poseidon, at Parivartan 2008, annual fest of the Department of Management Studies (DMS), IIT – Delhi, was designed to bring to the fore winning ideas from the management gurus in the making. Interestingly, the plan was based on a live poser from Tata Teleservices on how Tata Indicom can improve its ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit). Vineet Bhatia, head – northern region, Tata Teleservices, answers some questions:
What is the idea behind having such a contest? How does this exercise benefit the company?
It has always been our effort at Tata Indicom to connect to the youth not only as consumers but to participate in their empowerment process as well. Poseidon is a platform for students to showcase their entrepreneurial and managerial talent. The rigorous competition ensures that participants sharpen their business acumen and expand their knowledge frontiers. A business plan contest such as this enables the youth to know more about the world around us and become well-informed future corporate leaders. It acts not only as brand-building platform for Tata Indicom but allows us to interact with the youth as well. We get an opportunity to understand the thought-processes and aspirations of these future corporate leaders.
Is the company actually going to execute the ideas that are thrown up?
The students were given close to two weeks to prepare and submit a business idea on the strategy Tata Indicom should employ to increase its ARPU. We would certainly be implementing the best idea if it is techno-commercially feasible.
How does it benefit the management students?
The meticulous competition ensures that students sharpen their business insight and push the knowledge frontier. Poseidon also seeks to develop awareness and understanding of the applicability of different management techniques in a modern enterprise and stresses the importance of entrepreneurial spirit and passion. It gives the students a chance to learn hands-on what it is like to operate in a practical business environment, especially a dynamic one as the telecom industry.
And why only management students? Couldn't the contest be open to everybody by way of an online contest or print contest?
Poseidon was open to students of various B-schools and tech schools across India. This was clear by the overwhelming response that we received in the number of business plans submitted by these schools including IIM C, IIFT, FMS, MDI Gurgaon, NITIE , IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi.
How much money is the company investing in it?
We sponsored the prizes for the winning team. Each member of the winning team received from Tata Indicom a dual-SIM handset (Samsung Duo) and Plug-2-Surf Whiz (USB modem).
How do you define, in your terms, a winning idea, one that is creative or the one that is practical and adds to revenue?
The objective of Poseidon is to foster innovation and to encourage ideas that are scalable to larger contexts within the constraints posed by market realities of the day. While creativity is an essential ingredient of business innovation, by the very definition of innovation, a successful business model hinges on sustainable growth, market feasibility, financial and operational feasibility. Thus, the best business idea was selected on the criterion of techno-commercial feasibility.