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Entrepreneurship through eyes of experts

Entrepreneurial experts - Ramakrishna Velamuri, Dean of Mahindra University’s School of Management and Neil Tarallo, senior lecturer of entrepreneurship at the SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University spoke to Bizz Buzz about entrepreneurship, in today’s context

Neil Tarallo, Dr Ramakrishna Velamuri

Neil Tarallo, Dr Ramakrishna Velamuri

In this age of tough competition, startups driven by creativity and unique ideas has been playing a major role in the success of entrepreneurs.

In today's context it is very important for an entrepreneur to look into solving problems of people to find a business opportunity. "If you have skills in working with textile and people are also facing challenges in that area, an entrepreneur should chip in and find a business opportunity there while helping resolve the problem. How can one solve these problems using their skills to improve other people's lives is very important," says Neil. This he says could be applied to any context, like technology, products or service.

He says, "I feel that specific type of businesses need venture capital or any outside investment." He adds that working with people who are interested in your solution, can also provide some resources to a startup. He says that target audience is also very important for startups. "Once the target market changes and it goes a long way, the key is finding a market that can immediately find value in a solution to a problem," says Neil of resources and the ever changing dynamics of startups.

"When students in US approach me to find out about how much money is needed to begin a startup, I think nearly a sum of 50,000 dollars to 1,00,000 dollars is necessary, which amounts to Rs 4,00,000 in Indian currency," adds Neil.

According to him, internships at startup companies are really important. "I have seen students who are much happier when they work at startups, because they get the entrepreneurial experience and it also builds confidence among them," says Neil.

Most of the businesses which create jobs in the world today, Neil says, are techno-investment businesses. According to him, apps inspire young people to start businesses and are mechanisms that deliver value. They have the biggest impact in beginning a startup.

"Every business starts as nothing and then grows into a big company. For example, IBM's first business was weighing device- scales. They started by making small scales that people weigh grams of things on," Neil says to elucidate how technology helps in growth of startups.

He tells us how a student at Cornell had an idea of starting a company that made hummus, which is chemical free, in order to give it a longer life. "The student started making the hummus in 5 gallon buckets in his apartment using a mixer and the packaging was also done in order to distribute it to various grocery stores. Now he has huge distribution centres, delivering this product," he says while recalling an interesting experience he has had.

Another accomplishment he speaks of is when undergraduate students of the university invented a device that detected diseases of which bees were dying of. The device scanned the bodies of bees, detected the disease and distributed a spray that killed the disease for saving the bees. Many companies, he says, have been created, be it software or product companies or food-based companies by the students of Cornell University.

The most important aspect to spread entrepreneurship is by promoting public policy. "Public policy plays a big role in India and many more countries. But countries make a mistake in creating the policy but not being transparent about the policy," says Neil Tarallo. According to him, setting role models for people is very important so that startups can move on smoothly. "In many countries women are actually the activators of entrepreneurship and not men," says Neil.

According to Neil, in India today the government has been making policies for people to start businesses that will fundamentally change the country. "I think India is becoming more entrepreneurial. Ramakrishna and I were speaking about the great relation between the United States and India. In India we have a large population who are very good at technology. If there is a problem to be solved, we can confidently say that Indians can solve that problem in a cost-effective way, very easily and this inspires innovation and entrepreneurship in India," says Neil.

When it comes to paying salaries to employees in a startup, one has to create financial budgets. Those budgets will build into people some level of growth. The most effective way to do it is through the budgeting process, in saying as the business grows, one needs to have this much cash for the first employee.

He says, with Dr Ramakrishna, he looks at what entrepreneurs do and checks the success of the business. Beginning a startup is easy. "A successful entrepreneur would not say that he or she is going to risk everything they have," says Neil.

Aparajitha Vishwas Saikumar
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