Entrepreneurship Industry News

Three US-based entrepreneurs’ mission to make leaders out of Indian teens

While India has produced some high valuation start-ups such as Flipkart, Ola and others, the country is ranked a low 69 on entrepreneurial spirit by the Global Entrepreneurship and Develeopment Institute. India is just ahead of Morocco, Mexico and Russia.
“The spirit of entrepreneurship needs to be induced in students at a very early age so that as they grow up, they can generate more jobs in the country with original, innovative ideas,” said Devika Majumder, one of the co-founders of Youngpreneurs, and a think-tank that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation-oriented growth among Indian high schoolers”.

“Start-ups currently are using and banking on ideas, some of which have already been implemented and tested. But if we need to succeed in the start-up space, original, out-of-the-box ideas needs to be generated and nourished,” she told Business Standard.

Hence, Devika, a Boston-based serial entrepreneur and angel investor, along with Smita Majumder, a Washington DC based entrepreneur and Avelo Roy, a Chicago based TED speaker, investor and serial entrepreneur, came up with the idea to form Youngprenuers, which trains and guides the teens in the country to eventually turn them into start-up founders.

Devika Majumder, Smita Majumder, co-founders, Youngpreneurs and Avelo Roy, TED speaker and Serial Entrepreneur (centered) with students of The Newtown School (Photo: Subrata Majumder)
They have prepared a course outline, which has been developed by Fred Katz, professor of entrepreneurship at the Johns Hopkins University, and Partha Ghosh, professor of practice and leadership at the MIT and Tufts University – all in USA. With this course outline, Devika, Smita and Roy are now doing the rounds across the city’s schools offering a unique kind of programme which helps the teen students imbibe lateral thinking, leadership, innovation, oratory and other qualities.

Furthermore, as the students come up with an idea which can be actually implemented in the real world, they have access to angel funding from Devika, Roy, Ghosh and others.

“The course starts with breaking the ice which then moves to the ‘bug report’ session. Then we encourage students to arrive at solutions to a particular problem and finally make them understand the importance of being an entrepreneur”, Devika told this newspaper.

In addition executive role play sessions focused on proposing and structuring viable business models, prospecting and marketing products with a slew of well-conceived mock exercises, actual field trips, boardroom games, active case studies, critical thinking techniques, team plays, analytics and a practice of problem-solving strategies are then included.

“The idea of actually forming one’s own company and creating jobs can best be imbibed in the country’s people when they are in their teens”, Smita said.

Devika, who migrated to Boston in 1998, has tested her entreprenual skills before in that country after coming up with a unique mobile spa concept in New Jersey, which helps create a relaxing atmosphere for a stressed person inside an office. On the other hand, Smita’s start-up is currently in the incubation stage in the Silicon Valley. She also migrated to the US sometime in 2004.

Dhruvika Patodia, a standard IX student from The Newtown School on the metropolis’ fringes, states that time management is the biggest ‘bug’ for her and hopes Youngprenuers will be able to help her address this issue on her own. Although keen to become an adventurer as she grows up, Patodia wants to keep the option open to come up with her own firm.

Shreya Dhar, another standard IX student from the same school states that it is always good for her to learn new things and innovate.

“People need to understand that doing something different is not being mad”, she said.

Smita adds that as the country’s teens start coming up with innovative ideas, one should not choke them and instead help in taking the idea forward and make it “marketable and sellable”.

Read More: Business Standard