Undergrads turn summer entrepreneurs in Mumbai
Turnover instead of going internship route, Mumbai students are launching full fledged businesses during holidays to gain experience and boost their CVs.Updated: Apr 08, 2015 17:38 IST
A team of three 20-year-old mass media students at RD National College in Bandra— Namish Torane, Navneet Mishra and Gauresh Kadam — launched a venture in March to offer videography and photography services for weddings and parties. Interestingly, once the summer holidays are over, the trio will shut shop.
Pixel Perfect, as the venture is called, is part of a growing tribe of ‘summer start-ups’ in Mumbai — instead of going the traditional internship route, these students launch full-fledged business ventures to utilise their summer break.
“Students are opting for entrepreneurship over internships because it gives them a sense of independence, and they are able to manage time for social life too, which they may not be able to do at full-time summer internships,” says Sharon Menezes, BMM co-ordinator at MMK College in Bandra.
Once the summer’s over, the young entrepreneurs put their ventures on hold and can pick up the threads once they’ve completed their courses. While some of them plan to turn these into full-time businesses after graduation, others say that these are mainly to learn practical skills and largely for experimentation.
“We will discontinue after the summer break as these ventures need a lot of time,” says Mishra. “We want to give equal importance to our studies as well.”
While the initial investment is with personal resources, many of them do end up making marginal profits. Experts say students develop more risk-management from choosing to invest their time, interest and expertise in a start-up, rather than on a fixed-period internship.
“The e-commerce revolution has created multitude of opportunities,” says Chaya Sehgal, head of the entrepreneurship cell at Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in Churchgate. “The Indian economy is on an upsurge so there is money available for ideas with potential to build wealth for investors. These ventures also speak volumes of their managerial skills on their CVs.”
Here’s a look at some of the most innovative summer start-ups this season.
Just kidding is an event management venture started by two 19-year-old students, Nikita Pandurangi and Meher Nathani, of Jai Hind College, Churchgate. While Pandurangi is a second year management science student, Nathani is pursuing BMM. The duo launched the venture in March.
“We work on organising carnivals and parties for kids across the city,” says Pandurangi. “We handle everything from the venue to the decoration, cake and invites.”
It was not an easy start. Their first assignment was a birthday party of a family friend’s six-year-old girl, which threw up various investment-related difficulties. “Starting something up has its complications, but you always learn from these challenges,” says Nathani. “While we got orders, we did not get any advance money to buy what was required for the party.”
The duo had to convince their families for the seed fund and managed the party with the limited resources they could gather.
A five-day entrepreneurship course at Jai Hind College in December helped them deal with financial difficulties. With positive reviews from customers, the team wants to continue the venture after they graduate. “My six-year-old’s birthday party was well-managed,” says Anamika Sharma, a businesswoman. “I liked how they managed their college events and thus hired them.”
Anushka Mirchandani, 19, also a BMM student at RD National College in Bandra, always dreamed of establishing her own brand. She began by asking friends if they were interested in collecting quirky accessories, mugs and cellphone covers — but they all turned away once there was investment involved.
“I started going around city markets and meeting people who manufacture quirky stationery and clothing, which I found very exciting,” she says. At the end of March, she curated these items and launched a brand called Starlit, which sells an assortment of funky accessories and crockery, sourced from various designers and brands. She runs it out of her Lokhandwala home.
Soon after, a friend, Priya Agarwal, a 24-year-old from Delhi, contacted her with an interest to contribute. Now, Mirchandani imports products from Agarwal as per client requirements and sells them after personalising. The venture is funded by her mother.
“I will also launch a website soon. Until then, I get in touch with clients over Facebook and Instagram,” says Mirchandani. She plans to continue with Starlit after she graduates, as a side business — she wants to become a full-time hair stylist.
“I loved the accessories box I ordered from Starlit,” says Sonali Shukla, 41, a home-maker. “The packaging is adorable too — the box read ‘Hey, Gorgeous!’.”
Sherlyn Pereria and Daniella Gomes, both 23-year-old masters of history students at the University of Mumbai, have planned to set up recreational camps this summer, for children between two and six years old. The venture is called Busy Bees.
The weekly camp, which will run through April and May will have a list of 20 activities including weaving, finger puppets, clay work, mask-making, nature walks and under-the-sea themed craft, with different activities every week.
“We will run the camp as per montessori philosophy, which involves letting children use their imagination to create something useful,” says Pereria.
“We already have 15 registrations and are hoping to get more by April 16, the deadline,” says Gomes. “We are grateful that we had no resistance from being young and inexperienced — parents understood our connection with the children when they saw us interact with their kids.” They spread the word through posters at a montessori class in Bandra.
“The girls are very interactive with the kids,” says Nijal Thakkar, 37, a jewellery designer and mother of two kids enrolled in the class. “The camp looks very interesting, especially the nature walks and dance sessions — I am excited to send my kids to this camp.”
Having done a few small-scale freelance photography projects earlier, the team decided to launch a functioning business last month. “We try out new styles using varied compositions to give photographs a happy feel. This is our USP.” says Torane.
The trio experimented with videography and photography in college, and having received appreciation from their professors, they decided to launch Pixel Perfect.
However, they couldn’t find avenues outside of college where they could take this hobby more seriously.
“People want us to work like professionals but are not keen to invest much,” says Kadam. “Moreover they are hesitant to give us the job as we do not have an established profile. They are presently managing a friend’s relative’s wedding which, they believe, will help them build a strong portfolio and give them much required exposure and experience in the industry.
Although the team is currently working with fewer resources such as limited equipment, no formal workstations for post-production and less manpower, they are looking forward to overcome these challenges and strengthen a foothold in the sector.
“We will continue to take contracts once we graduate,” says Kadam. “Although we want to make it big in the sector, we wouldn’t do it at cost of studies.”
Educationists agree that such experience can enhance future prospects. “It is brilliant that students are not afraid to try entrepreneurship anymore. Early money, if used wisely, can help them extend business after graduation,” says Sukriti Kohli, freelance designer and guest lecturer at RD National College, Bandra.