There’s good news round the corner for aspiring entrepreneurs as The Startup Weekend is scheduled to happen on Feb 9th, 10th and 11th in our college. Read on to find out what Jenish, the Marketing Head of the event has to say.
GT: What inspired you to take up this position Jenish?
Jenish: Marketing has been my passion for years. I became a part of this event as a volunteer during my second year, where I brought 40 registrations, which was one-third of the total number of registrations. In 2017, I became the official organizer of this event and I took care of the entire marketing. Participants gain a lot of benefits through the Startup Weekend. I wanted to make sure that people who are interested in entrepreneurship would come to know about this event and the various benefits it offers.
GT: What are the goals you wish to achieve in Startup Weekend? How do you think students would benefit from this?
Jenish: People attending the Startup Weekend are generally programmers, fin-tech people, business analysts, commercial retailers, etc. Participants get to know them, form teams with them and start prototyping. So you can see the amount of exposure the students can get. Many students have really nice ideas and they try to build a startup, but don’t complete it for a lot of reasons. But here at Startup Weekend, they actually learn the complete process and make a prototype of their idea. This gives them a head start on their journey as an entrepreneur. Students also learn coordination and team building in this fun-filled event. Winners are provided a 3-month incubation program and are also given free UI/UX design for their application.
GT: How did you get enough sponsors?
Jenish: We have a very nice community of people helping us from outside. However, we had some difficulties in finding sponsors this year as the entire industry is a little down. Though we didn’t get monetary support, we got some in-kind sponsors, which helped the work proceed successfully as planned.
GT: How do you manage this and your studies? Since you’re in your fourth year, you’d be having your project as well.
Jenish: I am doing a project based on IoT and Machine Learning. Since I knew beforehand that the Startup Weekend will require a lot of time and effort, I started my project work eight months back so that I will have enough time for both.
GT: How many members are there on your team?
Jenish: There are more than 20 people in our team with three for finance, twelve for marketing, two for operations and partnering and four volunteers as well. A lot of credit also goes to Pragatheeswaran Sridharan, 4th year CSE student, who takes care of finance and Chibi, 3rd year, ECE, who takes care of partnering with external organizations. My team has been very helpful throughout the entire process and I am really lucky to have them. Around 50 quality participants come through partnering every year.
GT: How many participants are you expecting in this year’s edition of the Startup Weekend?
Jenish: Last year it was about 112. This year we’ve planned to cut it down to 100 since there were too many people previously and we couldn’t give attention to all of them. This year we have also planned to segregate them into ten teams, with ten members each.
GT: What is the reach of this event in other colleges?
Jenish: The Startup Weekend Ambassador Program helped us reach out and coordinate with more than 35 colleges. I also got in touch with the ACM, MIT Coders club, etc. to bring in interested participants. We have also spread the word to B-schools of SRM, SSN and Sairam groups. Selecting the right audience and marketing it to them was quite a tedious task for us.
GT: Can you name some renowned personalities who are coming for the event?
Jenish: Operations Head of Zoho, Operations Global Lead of HP who is also an IIMA graduate, Founder of Naturals saloon and two people from Angel Investment Community are some of the distinguished dignitaries coming for the event. They are all successful people in their respective domains and have good experience as well. Hence, they would be able to give a lot of inputs to our participants.
GT: As the Marketing Head of the event, there must have been a lot of pressure to handle. Tell us about it.
Jenish: I had to shoot emails to prospective partners daily and negotiate with them. Since we have a very good team for content, we were able to do this job very well. We answer each and every enquiry we get and try to help people understand the importance of Startup Weekend.
GT: What are some of the probable challenges you might face during the event?
Jenish: The mentors who have been allocated for each session may defy the time allocated for them. If one mentor takes a lot of time, then the others have to cut their sessions. There is also a chance that the schedule may not be followed exactly as planned. Moreover, since the hackathon is scheduled overnight, participants might feel drowsy. Nonetheless, we are well prepared and hope to organize it successfully.
GT: What is your opinion on Chennai and Tamil Nadu as a good hub for startups?
Jenish: Chennai is still in the growing phase.There is a lot of work that needs to be done here. Most of the startups are just in the budding stage. Chennai has only accomplished 50% of what Bengaluru has done with startups. But, Tamil Nadu as a whole is growing, with the government offering a lot of incubation programs. There are participants from Trichy and Coimbatore as well.
GT: Thank you for your time Jenish. We hope that the participants gain a lot from this event. All the best for successfully organizing this event!