Entrepreneurship is Like Bungee Jumping – Interview with Manveen Kaur, XLRI

Bizness-Wizness Hai Rabba!

I have often wondered what is the ultimate objective of spending an obscene amount of money in doing an MBA when all that I do during the classes is sleeping, Whatsapping and wondering what percentage of the professor’s lecture am I able to get? After a year in this course, I have realized that probably the best reason of them all was meeting people; people who come from different walks of life, have varying backgrounds and experiences and most importantly, very different ideas about how their tomorrows should be. One idea that I hear doing the rounds these days is being an entrepreneur. XLRI has a spanking new Entrepreneurship Cell (fashionably called the E-cell) which is looking at coming up with incubation centres, angel investors who might fund the venture ideas of the students there and also seminars, workshops and what-not related to entrepreneurship; recently they had one sponsored by Google, that dealt with women entrepreneurs.

Although I have never been attracted to entrepreneurship as a career (since it requires too much work and I am a  lazy person by disposition :p) I have had the fortune of meeting quite a few people who not only want to venture in this area but have actually started something of their own. One such person who happens to be my classmate, is Manveen Kaur. Before joining XLRI, she worked in an IT firm and had also started an online jewelry store called ‘The Ark’s Bloom’. Whenever I have spoken with her about how she got interested in this direction and other details, she has provided me quite convincing replies. So I thought that I would share the same with you before I go into drawing my own conclusions about this much exalted career option.

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1      Where did you get inspiration/idea of this entrepreneurial venture of yours? What difficulties did you encounter in the beginning?

I love wearing earrings and bracelets, but I was unable to get jewellery which would define me (a career girl who is exciting, funny and classy) and not leave a dent in my pocket.

Difficulties, well since my parents are government employees, I had no network and no knowledge of how to actually run a business. And since I had a low amount of money I had to do everything myself from designing the logo to packing jewellery in a bubble wrap. Also, entrepreneurship is not so widely supported by families.

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2     Apart from students from IITs, IIM’s or other top notch engineering and B- schools, other colleges hardly spawn any entrepreneurs. What can be done to change this situation?

Many budding entrepreneurs are disheartened at an early stage due to issues with funding, fine-tuning of ideas as well as a general lack of support. The change should start from grass root level; students should be made aware and encouraged to make unorthodox career choices by schools and colleges and supporting angel investors, entrepreneurs as advisors, etc. are the infrastructure that should be put in place.

Also, since the concept of deferred placements is prevalent in most colleges, students should also approach this as a career choice since they do have a back-up.

3   The E-cell of XLRI is still a fledgling as compared to that of most other top B-schools. What plans do you people have to hasten its ascent up the ladder? (Did I not mention that Manveen is a member of the E-cell too!)

As E-cell of XLRI is just 2 years old, it has a long way to go. Some of things we have in store are creating incubation centre with help of Jharkhand government, industry interaction cell to connect entrepreneurs with future managers and various on campus events like business baazigar and B-plan competition.

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4     Finally, have your courses here in XLRI helped you become a better, more efficient entrepreneur? What changes do you believe need to be brought about in B-school education to make it more entrepreneurs friendly?

Not only has MBA taught me marketing and finance concepts, it has provided me with a network of marketers and finance experts which is the most crucial aspect of being an entrepreneur. Also the faculty at XLRI goes out of their way to help one with any problem one might be facing, so I have had the privilege of access to advice from experienced people in this past year.

As far as the changes are concerned, B-schools don’t impart risk – taking ability to their students, which is essential for any entrepreneur. Also most students shy away from being an entrepreneur because of high interest education loans. To sum it all up, I can just say that Entrepreneurship is like bungee-jumping; you have to jump of the cliff to know the feeling and to know whether you will end up safe or unsafe.

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After talking to Manveen and many others like her, I can only conclude that this country which has communities like Marwaris and Gujaratis famous for their entrepreneurial spirit has somewhere disabled its new generation, especially the ones who don’t come from a business background, to step into this field. Our society increasing considers an MNC/IT/Financial service/Marketing job as an ideal one and in most cases, actively discourages people to take up the more challenging and uncertain path of starting their own business venture.

Another worrying fact that I have observed is the clear absence of entrepreneurship related courses in B-schools. If B-schools can force hardcore marketing students to study ‘n’ number of finance courses or MIS courses in their first year, why not entrepreneurship courses? Is it not a variety of ‘business knowledge’ that is required and must even be encouraged? I don’t really see the harm in doing so; the upside that I see is that some people might get interested while the already interested ones might gain the functional, formal knowledge required. Also, this might just increase the so-called ‘social standing’ of entrepreneurship as a career choice.

With this I would rest my case and in the hope that Manveen gives me discount on my next purchase, provide you with the contact details of The Ark’s Bloom (Fb page: https://www.facebook.com/thearksbloom; Retail @ http://www.craftsvilla.com/thearksbloom).

 

– As told to an interviewer from XLRI Jamshedpur.

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