‘Women Start-up Programme’ takes off at IIMB, Bengaluru

Over 1700 women across India participated in Stage 1 of programme which was a 5-week online course to identify an idea and initiate a venture; two mentor panels assessed around 300 submissions selecting the top 50 for Stage 2.

The ‘Women Start-up Programme’ was inaugurated by NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at IIM Bangalore on January 23 (Monday), 2017. Altogether 50 aspiring women entrepreneurs from all over India have been selected for Stage 2 of the programme.

NSRCEL, which is the entrepreneurship and incubation centre at IIMB, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, has initiated the Women Start-up Programme. The programme is designed to enthuse aspiring entrepreneurs-in-the-making to systematically think through their venture idea. It will equip women to develop entrepreneurial skill sets to help with the ideation stage and managerial skill sets that will help them start and grow their venture. The entrepreneurial skill sets will help them in the early part of the venture where they need to make decisions under uncertainty and the managerial skill sets will help them strategize during the growth phase.

During Stage 1, more than 1700 women from around India participated in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) ‘Do Your Venture’, which was a five-week online course designed to enthuse women to systematically identify an idea and initiate their venture.

With a focus to propel participants towards action, the course assessed the participants’ submission of the Lean Canvas and a two-minute video pitch of the business idea. Two mentor panels assessed around 300 submissions selecting the top 50.

Stage 2 of the programme, launched today at IIM Bangalore, involves a three-week interactive boot camp session for the top 50 online participants. The focus is for each participant to develop a robust ‘problem-solution’ fit to comprehend the success and sustainability of the venture.

In line with the popular Lean Launchpad, participants will interact with 25 potential customers every week. Depending on customer and mentor feedback, the participants may have to modify their proposals in order to establish a better fit.

The initiative seeks to facilitate the growth of women entrepreneurs in India by providing in-depth training both in nurturing managerial and entrepreneurial skills, mentoring and advice through a panel of reputed mentors, and incubation and modest financial support for top business plans.

On how the new programme has progressed so far, Professor Suresh Bhagavatula, Chairperson, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development, NSRCEL, said: “We, at NSRCEL, are very excited about this programme because it is for the first time we are trying out a blended model — MOOC, Classroom and Incubation. So far, it has shown great promise. The discussion boards on MOOC were very active, the online webinars were very well attended. All of this led to 300 women submitting their business ideas and a 2-minute pitch. After multiple rounds of selection, 50 women are here on campus for a three-week boot camp. We expect the women to attend classroom sessions and also continue working on their idea while they are in the boot camp.”

Anusha Stephen, one of the programme participants, was all praise for the new programme, and said, “The five-week MOOC helped in setting the stage and helping us understand the idea-generation phase. I am so happy to have made it to this programme and am looking forward to the experience of learning from the professors, mentors and peers. There are some amazing women here which will surely change my career.”

Expressing excitement at joining the programme, Chetana Jude Alex said, “I wanted to start a venture based on psychology and got to be part of the five-week MOOC programme conducted by IIMB’s NSRCEL for women entrepreneurs that took me out of my comfort zone. The online platform offered webinars conducted by Prof Suresh Bhagavatula and the elaborate discussion forums enabled me to share ideas with like-minded women. The ‘Do’ philosophy of the programme motivated me to work on developing a lean canvas for my idea, and I was thrilled when I received the email stating that I was one of the 50 women who have been selected for a fully funded on-campus mentoring programme at IIM Bangalore. It was inspiring to meet 49 other women from various part of the country with brilliant ideas in various fields.”

Sharing her learnings from the programme so far, participant Srividya Sen said, “This programme has led me on a journey to make my dreams a reality in a practical way. I have found the training to be very beneficial and relevant as this is where the rubber meets the road. This course is helping me become more self-confident and a better risk taker. I now have the practical knowledge to start up a business. I learnt how to seek actively for ideas around me, no matter how much/less money I have in my pocket. I learnt that money isn’t the secret to a successful business. I believe that this model will be a great tool for many women to venture out and set up their own businesses. This has completely demystified the aura around entrepreneurship and has made me business ready. The programme is really a great experience of receiving teaching in a creative way, involving everybody present in the class. We could learn not just from the teaching but also from the comments, ideas and suggestions of others in the class.”

This is a press note by Gutenberg Communications on behalf of Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru (IIMB), published here as is.

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