Meet The Writer Turned Entrepreneur From IIFT

Meet The Writer Turned Entrepreneur From IIFT

Gautham Sethuraman is someone who wears many hats. An engineer turned writer turned a management student and now heading a startup for online content presentation. His business idea is vivid -“We are building an app for the knowledge-hungry time-starved people”

He and his team have come out with an app- KNAPPILY to provide knowledge and content for many topics in just a few swipes. Here is an excerpt from an interview he recently gave to the Editorial  Board, IIFT

 

So you went from being an engineer to a writer?

Gautham Sethuraman: It is much easier to connect the dots looking back. I did my Mechanical Engineer from Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai. I began my professional career with Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd. as Graduate Executive Trainee in 2011.

But by then I had had my letters published in The Hindu, and Deccan Chronicle, completed internships in media and journalism with Sportskeeda, and The Sports Mirror. So when I was offered a job at Trivone Digital Services as a Sports Writer, it was both scary and exciting at the same time. I also learnt that I will be able to do a lot more than what my job description suggests. So I took it up.

I got to do everything starting from managing the payments of bloggers to social media marketing. I guess that’s one of the wonderful things about a start-up – it teaches you the importance of getting your hands dirty. I had the opportunity to meet/interview athletes like PV Sindhu, P Kashyap, Baba Aparajith, S Badrinath, etc. I was fortunate to work with a team that let me implement a lot of my ideas. It is a unique feeling to see your ideas bearing fruits.

I subsequently worked with Wadhwani Foundation as a Senior Associate, where I worked on Business Development activities, Social Media, Quality Audit, etc… again more than what my job description suggests!

How has life at IIFT been?

Gautham Sethuraman: It has been challenging. The first few months of any Business School is challenging. On top of that, IIFT offers one of the most rigorous academic curriculum. Once I warmed up to these things that the institute had to offer, I started working on start-up.

But it is also exciting to return to student life after a four-year gap. I get to interact and learn from people from so many different cultures.

What made you pursue entrepreneurship?

Gautham Sethuraman: Serendipity. I didn’t plan on becoming an entrepreneur when I entered IIFT. But when I first heard the idea, I was excited. I have been working on it for the past 5 months. It was a familiar industry where I have worn multiple hats in the past, I also get to work with a rockstaresque team, so it wasn’t too hard for me to make the decision. But yes, managing academics and start-up has been quite challenging.

Tell us about your start-up…

Gautham Sethuraman: We all at some point have been guilty of putting down the newspaper when we don’t follow a report. We often just rush to our favourite sections in the newspaper because that’s what we are comfortable reading/analysing/debating.

What if we are able to read an article on any topic, and are able to get a well-rounded understanding of everything we need to know?

This is how the idea for Knappily (short for KNowledge APPlication DaILY) was conceived. We, a team of 7 people analyse and present our content in the 5W1H framework (What, Why, When, Where, Who, and How), under which we anticipate the questions that can be asked about a topic, and present it in a format that can be easily consumed.

In 2 minutes, and just a few swipes, one can go from little or zero knowledge to getting a 360-degree view of any particular topic!

It is free and is available on the Android store, and Amazon store. It will be up on the Apple store from the second week of February, 2016.

How did your batch mates and faculty take it?

Gautham Sethuraman: For the first few months, I didn’t tell people that I was involved in a start-up. For me, it was a beta-test phase where I was trying to figure out how much time I can set aside for my start-up after a long day. But when I shared the news with them, they – both my friends and the faculty – were happy, and very supportive of it. I constantly interact, and learn from Dr Gautam Dutta.

What do you do in your free time?

Gautham Sethuraman: I’m getting trained in Carnatic classical music. I also love listening to light music. I’m a huge fan of Ilaiyaraja and AR Rahman. I read a lot. Besides nonfiction, I follow Quora and Brainpickings religiously. I write about sports, music, and self-help occasionally. I have written for several websites (Sportskeeda, Chakpak, etc.) and dailies (News Today, Business School Magazines, and Deccan Chronicle). I blog here.

What would you like to tell the MBA aspirants?

Gautham Sethuraman: For a minute now I’m going to throw political correctness out the window. 90% – I’m quoting a pessimistic number here – get into an MBA to land a high-paying job. While financial freedom is an important thing to pursue, the question you need to ask yourself is this: Do you see yourself playing that role for 10-12 hours a day for the next 3-4 years?

I see people who are not even remotely interested in a stream celebrating landing a high-paying job in it. There is a line between being open-minded and desperate. If you find yourself applying for a job you are not interested in because it is high-paying or peer pressure, you most likely on the wrong side of the line.

Always take suggestions. But be a student, not a follower. Let what you do be a product of your own conclusion.

 

(Gautham is an MBA(IB) student, batch of 2015-17 at IIFT, Kolkata Campus)

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