I was recently at the Techstart and the challenge of unemployment in IT industry for fresh engineers was more than obvious. The ones who took initiative to roll out Techstart, namely Persitent and Pune Tech group had clearly underestimated the "graveness" of this crisis. While about 250 un-employeed engineers of 2009 were expected to participate, the number turned out to be more than 800.

I was overwhelmed with this number, because it meant that start-ups could possibly hire good talent a reasonable price. While it was a crisis, it shouldnt be wasted [as what Ron Emanuel had said]. Anand Deshpande of Persistent rolled out Techstart and his opening remarks outlined the story of Stanford Class, which had leveraged the crisis. The statistics - number of start ups founded, new products rolled out were encouraging, especially for the entrepreneurs. And I also realized that Microsoft was also not going to waste the crisis. No wonder, Microsoft agreed to train students on Azure, which is into Community Preview mode.I decided to try and replicate the Standford Class model on a smaller level.

The Techstart gave start-ups and small companies, an opportunity to present for 3 min about the organization and opportunities  to the present 800 students. And I knew that, from the point we made this presentation, our mail boxes would be flooded with resumes. Our management team was excited- to create new project and product opportunities.

In less than a week, we have received more than couple of hundred resumes and we have conducted aptitude tests for more than 100 to shortlist about 20 students. While we were discussing about the projects, we ran into discussion of commitments. We had planned for the projects to run for a year and so we asked students to commit us their time for 13 months. To our dismay, a lot of students turned down these opportunities.

Being closer to market, I realize that the global slowdown is to stay for another 18 months atleast. The latest editions of Times Ascent, India's biggest print edition for IT jobs is depressing for job seekers.

Looking at both the sides, I am perplexed. Why are fresh engineering graduates not ready to commit to 12 months of their sincerity and dedication to a decent paying job? Is it because their hopes of getting a very high paying job still on? Or is because 12 months is a too long period for commitment? Or is someone showing them dreams of market revival (Well yes, few students who refused for a commitment of 12 months had consulted thier parents!)?

Or are we not in crisis yet?

I have some thoughts, but it is best left to each individual to decide on one's commitments and sincerity. I, however feel that this attitude can be a hindrance to innovate or leverage the crisis.

  • Posted on 2009-07-23
  • posted by Dhiraj
  • Comments(303032)

    Entrepreneurship is a way of life

    (I was invited to speak at Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies & Research, Pune, by National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) on Jan 18, 2009. This is abstract of my speech. You can download the presentation from here.)

    To understand what entrepreneurship is; one must be an entrepreneur.

    The essence of entrepreneurship cannot be captured in text books or articles. One has to go through the pains to get a feel of it. This however doesn’t demean the courses ran by academia and is no substitute to the rigorous thought process that must be put before pursuing an idea/concept.

    One need not start with a vision. But one has to start with a market need.

    In my opinion, contrary to advice people give, the idea or concept need not be novel. It should however, address the need of market and there should be enough market size. There are several examples in history and today, who started either without a vision or modified their vision in the journey. Take example of Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker. When Hewett and Packard started HP, they had very little idea of what kind of products they want to make. Flickr started as an online gaming company; but when the founders stumbled upon photo sharing application and saw an opportunity there, they changed the vision of the company. It is perfectly all right – not be innovative if you can sustain and address a market need.

    Entrepreneurship is hard but fun.

    An entrepreneur must remain committed and be prepared to move out of comfort zone. There are several entrepreneurs who have shared their experiences to state that – be prepared to loose money, to loose friends and to loose sleep. What one gets though is an experience of life time!!

    ‘Sales’ is the key to success!!

    Be it your first customer, your first employee or your first vendor, an entrepreneur has to sell. Sell hard !! Prospects ask “Why should we buy from you?”. Prospective employees ask “Why should we work with you?” and so on. An entrepreneur’s role thus boils to selling. Master this art and you will flourish.

    Mentors and Network are the key elements!!

    Mentors will save you from mistakes. They are your guiding posts and the light at the end of tunnel. Develop your mentors and choose right mentors who will guide you to pursue right opportunity, caution you against pitfalls and draw from their expertise. Network is crucial to cross check your ideas and market.


    Honestly, I don’t know how to approach recession. And I believe no one knows either. This however doesn’t imply that we must stop planning. I only want to emphasize that one must be prepared to anticipate the unanticipated. Few trends / thoughts here. Companies will tend to cut costs, conserve resources and focus on sales. So an entrepreneur has to make itself inline – help his/her customers achieve sales and cut costs. This is also good time to upgrade talent. I also believe that some of the opportunities which existed earlier will continue to exist. Two important trends to be highlighted here – Opportunity for bottom at the pyramid and Co-creation / Collaborative Creation.

  • Posted on 2009-03-07
  • posted by Dhiraj
  • Comments(30315)