We at the Centre of Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) have been hard at work over the past few weeks. Before I give you a breakdown of each project I have been involved in, let me provide some background about CIIE and its purpose.
CIIE helps entrepreneurs turn ideas into viable businesses by incubating, accelerating, mentoring and funding innovative start-ups. CIIE believes that entrepreneurship has an unmatched ability to bring about disruptive change in India and engages with ventures across technology, energy, environment, agriculture, healthcare and affordable technology. With its affiliation to the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, startups not only receive support from CIIE but have access to the IIM Ahmedabad alumni network, professors, events and much more.
So here is what I have been up to:
1) The Indian Innovation Growth Program: The IIGP is a joint effort by various private sector corporations, government departments and CIIE. Selected startups are placed in an intensive support program to help them refine their ideas, strengthen their business models and provide them with necessary business skills. The program is hosted by CIIE and IIM Ahmedabad. The program first exposes the startups to IIM professors who lecture them on assorted topics such as decision making under uncertainty, financial modelling, unit economics and much more. I was fortunate enough to sit in on a number of these lectures too. Thereafter, startups meet with mentors at CIIE. I was privileged enough to be one of these mentors with the help of Tapish Bhatt (Blakeley Fellow - 2014). Together we mentored and advised numerous entrepreneurs. We dived into the details of their ideas, identified problems, proposed strategy and provided general support. The hours were long but the experience was incredibly rewarding. Although our sessions would continue past 10pm day after day, I felt energized by the reward of feeling like I contributed and helped ambitious individuals on a mission to do remarkable things.
2) Innocity: Short for Innovation City, Innocity is a pilot program developed by CIIE to help support entrepreneurship in India and those startups that are not housed within CIIE itself. Here startups and entrepreneurs can register for sessions on a specific topic rather than an extensive program. Therefore, entrepreneurs can attend sessions on topics that they feel they are lacking or in need of. Myself and Tapish jointly led the module focusing on Customer Development and guided entrepreneurs through various frameworks designed for new ventures specifically. We also applied these frameworks to their businesses to help them validate their ideas and business models. Below is a picture of Tapish and I leading the Customer Development session:
3) IIMAvericks Initiative: This is another program developed by CIIE but is focused on IIM Ahmedabad students, both current and alumni specifically. The IIMAvericks initiative funds recent alumni that are pursuing a startup venture and incubates them for a period of 2 years. Incubatees are provided with a platform to work on their businesses while being financially supported, housed within CIIE buildings and allowed access to continuous mentoring and guidance. The initiative is also aimed at current IIM students who have business ideas and are interested in entrepreneurship. These individuals also receive mentoring and network access as well as dedicated summer internships that allow selected applicants to test their idea viability and conduct market research over the summer under the guidance of CIIE mentors. Throughout my time here at CIIE I have taken up an advisory/mentorship role and host sessions with IIMAvericks whenever they want to brainstorm, tackle an obstacle or refine their business models. It is both rewarding and challenging. Challenging because every idea is different and separate from sector to sector. I have to adjust and be flexible in every session according to the mission which has been a great skill I have gained through this experience.
It has not been all work - On the weekends I have made it an objective to explore and I have had the opportunity to see some amazing sites like the Gandhi Ashram and the Step-Well of Adalaj to name a couple.
The Gandhi Ashram was Gandhi's residence for 12 years while he planned and led his efforts in India's Independence Movement. The national monument displays scripts, portraits, artefacts and much more that provide deep insight into the humble but incredible courage this man had. The Step - Well of Adalaj was built in 1498 and is an octagonal shaft five stories deep surrounded by beautifully sculptured pillars and walls. On the day I went, rain poured down, making the experience that more amazing and tranquil.
Until next time,