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Meet the Youngest Entrepreneurs of India

Gone are the days when students used to reverie of pursuing a career with leading MNCs. More and more school students in India are now taking the entrepreneurship path.

Tags: school entrepreneurs, arjun santhosh kumar, tie, lateralogics, technology startups, web designing, mobile apps, steve jobs, bill gates

BY Aparajita Choudhury  |  Sep 23, 2014 comments ( 0 ) |

‘To any entrepreneur: if you want to do it, do it now. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it.’

Catherine Cook, MyYearbook

What if the notion being taken seriously – it might produce a pool of talent. Majority of us don’t even bother about these notions and wait for things to happen. But to our surprise, the Gen Y kids are riding against the tide. Armed with innovative ideas and diverse skill-sets, these kids are leaving no stones unturned to give shape to their entrepreneurial dreams.

It sounds a bit interesting. Let’s fathom it.

Gone are the days when students used to reverie of pursuing a career with leading MNCs. More and more school students in India are now taking the entrepreneurship path. Driven by the growing number of opportunities and supported by the increasing array of entrepreneurship programs available across the country, these young entrepreneurs don’t wait to graduate to start-up.

“There is an immense enthusiasm for entrepreneurship among school students. We have seen some very innovative business ideas coming from these young students. This proves that young minds, if nurtured properly and guided to a meaningful direction, can come out with brilliant ideas as they do not restrict their thoughts to any preconceived notions,” says Murali Bukkapatnam, President, TiE Hyderabad and Managing Director & CEO, Getdomestichelp.com.

Inspiring Schoolpreneurs

Youngsters are increasingly realising that entrepreneurship is an important tool for country’s economic and industrial development. Though not in a fast pace, but entrepreneurship is certainly spreading its wings incrementally. Entrepreneurship didn’t existed few years ago, but at this point of time, school students know about it and are willing to experiment with their ideas.

Name: Arjun Santhosh Kumar

Age: 14 years

Class: 9th grade

Designation: Founder & CEO, LateraLogics

Arjun Santhosh Kumar, a 9th grade student of Velammal Vidhyshram in Chennai, is the Founder & CEO of his company LateraLogics, a technology company with focus on custom apps development, web development and consulting. Fascinated with science and technology, Kumar developed two award winning apps, namely Ez School Bus Locator and iSafeGuard, at a tender age of 13.

Kumar’s inventions helped him win global recognition. He emerged as the winner of the coveted Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s App Inventor Contest in December 2013. “My dream is to establish LateraLogics as one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. I draw inspiration from many great people like Steve Jobs and Pranav Mistry.

The inspiration/idea behind starting LateraLogics was how mobile phone apps are being used nowadays to solve critical issues and the immense possibilities they carry to make life easier. We are in the process of building a small team of designers and coders, who carry great passion for building solutions that solve a purpose,” states Kumar.

Ez School Bus Locator is an innovative Android phone app that helps parents view the location (live) of their kid’s school bus on a map and know when the school bus will reach home. On the other hand, iSafeGuard is a women and teen safety mobile app developed keeping in mind the growing instances of eve teasing and crime against young girls and women in today’s world.

The app will help women and teens in distress to send distress calls (SOS messages) with location details on pre-set numbers of friends and family members. It will also alert local community (volunteers who have this app installed in their mobile devices) near the spot to reach out to the person in danger, without waiting for the police. At present, Kumar is working on a robotics app and plans to create an intelligent personal assistant application that can help people respond to everyday situations in more engaging ways. 

Talking about the revenue model, Kumar shares, “Currently, the mobile apps are freely available, but I am working on a subscription-based (white-labelled) model to sell these apps commercially (in addition to the free version) to schools and organisations. The pricing for the subscription is yet to be decided.”

Name: Shravan and Sanjay Kumaran

Age: 14 and 12 years respectively

Class: 10th and 8th grade

Designation: Co-Founder & President (Shravan) and Co-Founder & CEO (Sanjay), GoDimensions

Another such aspiring young entrepreneurs are Shravan and Sanjay Kumaran. Shravan Kumaran – a 14 year old boy studying in 10th grade and his brother Sanjay Kumaran – a 12 year old boy studying in 8th grade at Vael’s Billabong High International School in Chennai, are the youngest mobile application programmers in India.

The duo has co-founded a company called GoDimensions, a technology company with focus on developing simple solutions for the digital world. Shravan is Co-Founder & President, and Sanjay is Co-Founder & CEO of the company.

They have developed seven mobile applications that are available on Apple’s App Store.  They have also created three apps for Google’s Android Play store. As per Sanjay and Shravan, these applications have got more than 60,000 downloads all together from more than 60 different countries. They draw inspiration from Steve Jobs for his user interface and Bill Gates for his marketing strategy.  

“Our interests in computer started at a very early when we started to make presentations at school. The school and teachers encouraged us to do more, sensing our keen interest in computers.  At home, we started learning QBasic, then animation and gradually moved on to programming apps. Our dream to start a company that builds new gen mobile applications led us to develop application for Apple iPhone & Apple iPad,” state Shravan and Sanjay.

Speaking about their vision and goals, the duo state that they want their apps to run on 50 per cent of the smart phones in the world and want to donate 15 per cent of their total profits in charity.

Name: Sreelakshmi Suresh

Age: 16

Class: 11th grade

Designation: Founder & CEO, eDesign Technologies

Entrepreneurship seems to run in the genes of these school students. Sreelakshmi Suresh, the youngest web designer girl and CEO in the world and winner of numerous national and international awards, embarked into entrepreneurship at an age of 10 by establishing her own venture named eDesign Technologies. eDesign is a website designing company offering services like website design, web development, SEO and logo designing.

Suresh has already designed and developed more than 100 websites for various institutions and organisations including Bar Council of Kerala, Angels International, EHP India, Mammas Passion, and others. She is studying in 11th class at Presentation Higher Secondary School, Kozhikode.

“Computer is my best friend from my early childhood. When I heard about a boy who developed a website and my parents told me that I too can do like that, I stepped into the world of web designing. When I was 3 years old, I used to draw pictures using MS Paint program in Computer. I gradually learned typing alphabets and started studying web designing. In 4th class, I was entrusted with the work of developing a website for my school,” says Sreelakshmi.

When asked about the revenue model, she replies, “Charges for designing websites depends upon the time required for completing the work. For a simple website with 4 to 5 pages, including domain reign and hosting, we charge Rs 6000. For other works, charges are calculated on per hour basis. Last year, my target was 50 websites and I achieved the target. This year, it’s doubled and I am confident to achieve my goal.”

Investors' Perspective

Talking about the schoolpreneurs, investors are of the view that it doesn’t matter whether an entrepreneur is a school student, an experienced or a matured professional, what all matters is the business idea. “If the idea of any venture is innovative, it will definitely attract investors. Today, lot of students are aggressively choosing entrepreneurship as their career because it has become easier for them to access capital, mentoring and advice which help them learn how to do business,” explains Prajakt Raut, Founder, The Hub for Start-ups.  

The society is now accepting entrepreneurship and pushing their children to choose entrepreneurship as a career. The future is awesomely bright as lot of college students aspire to become entrepreneurs, especially from tier-2 and tier-3 colleges, Raut adds further.

Speaking on the same note, Anantha Rao, Chairman, SkillPro and Managing Director, Focus Ventures, states, “Social media applications and innovative mobile applications developed by schools students hold high investment potential. But in my view, professional or angel investors would not come forward to invest in school start-ups because these school students hardly need investment in the range of Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh.”

“When it comes to school students, it is not only about the business idea, but the implementation process/execution of the idea matters a lot. We are fully dedicated towards extending required support to entrepreneurs, but we don’t mentor school-level start-ups. We are looking to mentor the students of business schools and engineering colleges,” Raut asserts.

Fostering Entrepreneurship

Recently, TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur) has initiated TYE-TiE Young Entrepreneurs Program that aims to nurture the next generation entrepreneurs. The program is meant for the students of 9th to 12th grade. It’s a 16 week program that includes 8 week classroom training.

“We also intend to organize workshops and conferences to ensure that children expand their dimensions in terms of entrepreneurship,” states Bukkapatnam.

When asked about the impact of such program on the school students, Bukkapatnam shares, “It’s too early to measure an impact. But I am quite certain that the impact is getting stronger. The virus of entrepreneurship has been planted. No entrepreneurial activity will fetch results overnight. All we need to do is sit tight and wait for things to shape up.”

The program is not only restricted to class-room trainings, but allows students to gather learning and experiences on various topics shared by industry experts. The experts help students develop interest in entrepreneurship.

When asked about the experiences gained from the TYE-TiE program, Sai Siri Gurram, a 10th grader of Jubilee Hills Public School, Hyderabad, reveals, “I gained deep insight about how to lead new ideas, support and respect others’ ideas, and keep going with the change without hesitating to take up new challenges. I learnt a lot about managing and dealing with a group of people with completely different mentalities. Apart from these, I also get to know about various aspects of business and entrepreneurship.”

Another student of the TYE-TiE program, Pravishta Nadella, a 10th grader of International School of Hyderabad, states, “Ever since I joined TYE program, I have also been able to look around me and understand entrepreneurship in a very different way, it is not just about making money but also trying to make a difference in an area which you are passionate about. The program also helped me gain an edge by learning the basics of leadership skills, taking risks and developing confidence in public speaking skills at national and international level.”

Thus, no one can deny the fact that entrepreneurship plays a key role in economic and industrial development of the country. In order to become a successful entrepreneur, one does not need to acquire a higher educational degree. Entrepreneurship happens out of the ability to take risks and execute innovative ideas. “Truth be told, education has no role in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is all about idea, innovation, and the innate ability to execute it,” concludes Bukkapatnam.

With inputs from Swadha Mishra

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