Start-ups are helping students learn to build, create, invest
As a college student, you’re dealing with a new environment, new people, a fresh slate of subjects, and are often commuting, budgeting and managing your own schedule for the first time. There’s pressure to prove your potential and prepare for job offers and a career. It can feel like a constant struggle just to keep up.
Typically, education startups have responded to this by offering counselling, chat services, gamified approaches to syllabus problems. Now, a few are going a step further and inviting students to create, ideate, try their hand at something new—whether 3D printing or entrepreneurship. They’re offering e-lessons in money management and decoding the stock market.
Hyderabad-based Metamorphosis helps students who want to be entrepreneurs get some practice brainstorming and building on ideas. Karkhana in Bhubaneswar runs a makers space where students, particularly of engineering, can create. And LearnApp has video courses on banking, stock markets, finance and investment, delivered by industry experts, aimed at the young adult.
“Start-ups in education have a crucial role today,” says education counsellor Karan Gupta. “They can leverage technology to plug holes in our syllabuses, work with students on everything from improving confidence through body language of students and soft skills to learning how specific aspects of the real world work.”
LESSONS FROM VETERANS
On YouTube, most how-I-did-it and quick-guide videos by industry leaders are geared towards professionals and mid-career viewers. LearnApp curates short video courses on topics such as stock markets, taxes, banking and finance, delivered by industry veterans.
There are videos on how capital markets work by Ashish Chauhan, CEO of the Bombay Stock Exchange; on principles of management, by R Gopalakrishnan, executive director of Tata Sons. “These courses don’t earn you certificates, but the lessons from these experts make students understand and acquire real-world skills,” says Prateek Singh, founder of LearnApp.
Parth Patel, who is pursuing an MBA in investment banking, says the lectures bridged an important gap for him. “I know the basics and have even worked in the stock market,” he says. “But I wanted to really know how it works. Trading courses are expensive, even online. Students who don’t have the time or money for separate courses can really learn here.”
For students who have the drive, energy and creativity for entrepreneurship but often no contacts or understanding of real-world issues, Hyderabad-based Metamorphosis acts as a connector. The two-year-old company identifies problems within the industries of cyber security, IT and consumer products, and passes them on to college students who might be able to find solutions.
Metamorphosis’s research team collates case studies, conducts surveys and interviews, and comes up with ideas for what needs to be done. The students put their heads together and try to make it possible. “About 6,000 students from engineering colleges in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have signed up,” says founder Pavan Allena.
One task was to help students who missed classes because of serious illnesses like jaundice. The team came up with the idea of a virtual-reality device that would record lectures so there was no lapse in the student’s learning.
Allena says solutions like these rarely come from textbooks – they’re hacks best thought up by students.
Metamorphosis also works with state IT departments, for connections and rural project set-ups. “We have partnerships with VIT in Vellore, Gitam in Vishakhapatinam and Sanjay Memorial Institute of Technology in Bhubhaneswar,” he says.
WORKSHOPS WITH A TWIST
If, as a student, you’ve been trying to use campus resources like labs and equipment to work on a project, you’ve probably run into at least a few scheduling issues. This was where Karkhana, a maker space in Bhubaneswar, comes in.
“We wanted to make science labs accessible to all,” says founder Siddharth Bhatter. At Karkhana, students can book time slots to work on projects from home-automation systems to sensors in manufacturing equipment and smart gas regulators.
Karkhana provides electricity, wi-fi, power back-up and basic furniture for free. Membership fees cover the use of remote control devices, saws, wood cutters and chipboards. Other frills like the use of 3D printers, wires and microchips come at a nominal charge. There is also an in-house store that sells raw material sourced directly from manufacturers, at a lower-than-market price.
The maker space fees range from ₹700 for a day to ₹12,000 for three months. “We operate from 9 am to 9 pm and plan to soon go 24x7,” says Bhatter.
Utkarsh Chauhan, a third-year electronic engineering student from Institute of Technical Education and Research in Bhubaneswar, says the Karkhana team was responsible for helping him understand the concept of bots. “I did my first project with Karkhana in my first year of college. The project was on the Internet of Things and home automation,” he says. “At college, we don’t work on such experiments; we often end up just writing code. At Karkhana, I worked with four classmates and to understand other engineering subjects too.”