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Informative and interactive – MOOCs a big hit among young entrepreneurs

Startup founders are taking up massive online and open courses to brush up their business and management skills

education Updated: Jul 28, 2016 14:46 IST
Gauri Kohli
Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
MOOC,massive online open courses
By enrolling for MOOCs, budding entrepreneurs can ascertain if their ideas are practical.(Getty Images)

A number of startup founders and entrepreneurs have learnt the tricks of the trade and finer nuances of entrepreneurship through MOOCs. For Aditya Om, an engineer-turned entrepreneur, it was his passion for creating something new in college (NIT Raipur) in 2012 that drove him to start his own venture.

“I developed a passion for new upcoming technologies such as IoT, advanced embedded and robotics, smart devices etc. Unfortunately, the syllabus I was being taught was limited in scope to cover these topics. I took up several MOOCs which helped me in many ways. The discussion forums on the MOOCs platform where you can learn from other peoples’ experiences are a great way to clear your doubts,” he says.

“I opted for MOOCs such as Introduction to the Internet of Things and Embedded Systems, The Arduino Platform and C Programming, Interfacing with the Arduino, The Raspberry Pi Platform and Python Programming for the Raspberry Pi, Internet of Things: Sensing and Actuation From Devices and Mastering Data Analysis in Excel, among others,” says Om, who is currently pursuing research in advanced multimedia technologies from IIT Kanpur.

He is also developing IoT solutions leveraging machine learning and data analytics capabilities for various clients alongside. Enrolling in MOOCs has had an immense impact on his academic and professional growth. “The MOOCs I took up were mostly hands on and practical. I could ascertain if my concepts really worked or not. This not only improved my theoretical but also my practical understanding of programming the embedded and IoT platforms such as Raspberry Pi and Dragonboard410c. This helped me in coping with my degree projects, competitions at national and international levels,” he says.

What Om particularly liked about the MOOCs he took up was that he was able to access advanced and high quality content from top universities such as MIT, Stanford, University of California, Princeton, Microsoft and Linux Foundation for free. “The practical nature of courses, up-to date syllabus, flexibility of platforms to access the materials from a laptop, smartphone etc, very good mentorship support and extremely active and vibrant discussion forums were other unique aspects of MOOCs,” he says.

Anand Muglikar, CEO, StomatoBot Technologies Pvt Ltd, opted for several MOOCs including technical ones like Prof Andrew Ng’s Intro to Machine Learning, Prof Geoff Hinton’s Neural Networks for Machine Learning, and a few business MOOCs such as Design Thinking for Innovation.

He opted for MOOCs to get better at machines. He even got two jobs on the basis of these MOOCs. “I started my startup called StomatoBot Technologies in 2015 and I have used knowledge gained through MOOCs and online data to run my startup. My most loved course has been Prof Andrew Ng’s Intro to Machine Learning. This course was truly unique in the sense that it was from one of the leading researchers in the field, a person who leads even at Stanford. It was hands-on and emphasised on application of theory via assignments,” he says.

As part of the course, Professor Ng taught him how to deal with real data and the precautions to take when solving real-world problems via machine learning, says Muglikar who completed his bachelor’s in electronics engineering from VIT, Pune and is a self-learned software and computer vision engineer through MOOCs. His start-up focuses on solving the surveillance monitoring problem in real-time.

Sourabh Dev, CEO, Ubinext, has completed MOOCs in data science, full stack web development, android development, IOT and game development specialisations.

Read more: Want to be an entrepreneur? MOOCs give you an edge

First Published: Jul 28, 2016 14:46 IST