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Improving the efficacy of entrepreneurial education

Improving the efficacy of entrepreneurial education

Building the entrepreneurial traits among the young students is a critical success factor for the success of Start-up India mission. However, there has not been any comprehensive and systematic approach to achieve such competency. Whatever is being done is too little and too late.  The following article presents a proposed approach to build this competency throughout the education process.

Starting at the primary school level, we need to include the life stories of great entrepreneurs into the curriculum in a non-detailed study mode so that the students are not burdened with examinations but are encouraged to explore their lives and get inspired to be successful entrepreneurs themselves when they grow up. The seeds of entrepreneurial aspirations should be sown at this young age. The focus is not just monetary success and material success but the way these entrepreneurs are able to change lives of lakhs of people for the better. The value creation and value delivery are to be emphasized along with the social impact and the problems being solved.

When the students enter the high school, they should be eager to know more about the start-ups and entrepreneurship. Here the pedagogy will start assuming a more practical approach. The students are encouraged to create and sell small products in the quarterly bazaar for dummy currency. This brings out their selling skills and how they can understand customer needs and perceptions. The whole thing can be gamified by tracking which team is able to achieve the maximum revenue. As they grow up, the money could be real but limited so that the game becomes more realistic and yet within reasonable limits.

The students will also start understanding value engineering and how much it costs to make a certain product with certain materials. The impact of changing materials and developing sustainable products will also come to their understanding. The concepts of Design Thinking can be introduced here, as the students interact with prospective customers, understand the problem and derive possible solutions.

When they join the graduation, there can be a three-year project done by each student, working in small groups. They can first identify a problem and come up with solutions. The design thinking concepts which they had learned in high school can be used in real time scenarios. In the first year, the students can focus on ideation and product development. This would build a proof of concept and pilot implementation.  Once the pilot is successful, possibly by the end of the second year, the students will gain a lot of insights about the target customers and markets. They could develop a business plan and a pitch deck during the final year. The idea here is to create a feeder pipeline for the incubators where the selected start-ups can grow.

Many professional colleges have started conducting pitch deck competitions. The biggest issue with these events is that while the winners are celebrated, the other participants don’t get any learning from the event. Every participant in these events should be mentored by senior mentors in order that they understand the gaps in their ideas and plans and improvise the same. Imagine the strength of the pipeline when every entry is supported and made stronger rather than focusing only on a selected few. There need not be winners and losers here as everyone can become a winner.

This step-by-step approach as an extracurricular activity will build a strong ecosystem within the institution. Just like placement drive, an incubation drive can then be conducted during the final year which is attended by the local incubators who can select the prospective teams and ideas to be incubated. This will open the feeder system into the mainstream start-up ecosystem which would further lead to sustainable start-ups going to the market.

One of the biggest barriers to the student start-ups is that the students are not compensated during the incubation period. This creates an apprehension among their families and students are forced to abandon even if their ideas are good. If they are provided with a minimum salary so that they can sustain themselves and develop the start-up; the results could be much better. The incubator can have this as a component built into their investment.

These are some of the steps which can be taken to create a comprehensive learning ecosystem for building future talent for entrepreneurship.

About the Author

Flt.Lt. Sridhar Chakravarthi is an experienced organizational change coach and consultant with over 30 years of leadership experience in various industries. He believes in the possibility of exponential growth for individuals, start-ups and mature organizations. He empowers them to achieve exponential growth by bringing agility into their mindset, processes and behaviours. He is an authorized training partner for Enterprise Agility University, runs his company “Coach for Change” and lives in Bengaluru, India.