Life is a journey full of choices. Each step we take is a choice either made by us or by those that love us. But there comes a point, when making the right choices proves to be the most difficult decision one has to make. One such decision lies in achieving our dreams. This journey is a rocky path that often leaves us in a whirlpool of questions.
Making the right career decisions is the one question that looms in the face of most of the youngsters today. The absence of a guide many a times strays people away from what they actually want to do. Founded by Vishal Haria, Prashi Agarwal and Varsha Sarkar, ambitionME has emerged as the solution to this ongoing problem.
What is ambitionME?
ambitionME enables 18 to 25 year old students to connect with careers through fun activities which demonstrate their skills. These include contests/events which enable them to win rewards and career opportunities and to engage with corporates.
For corporates, this translates into customized branding solutions leading to targeted engagement with the desired student audience.
The Story behind this Startup
The desire to help youngsters ‘experience’ the careers they are dreaming of, before taking the final dive! ambitionME founders are passionate about sharing with college goers the experience which they themselves missed during college – opportunities to know the available career choices up close, interact with the right experts from the relevant fields and most importantly, get their hands dirty while trying out various online or offline activities.
Basically the whole idea of enabling students to help themselves in their career lies at the core of ambitionME.
Standing apart from the Crowd
Though there are no similar platforms or services, there is competition in related and niche areas: recruiting, career counselling, pure-play branding, content aggregation. Highly interactive activities leading to reward/career opportunities, ‘experience’ driven skill development and a solid offline base put them ahead of competitors.
Seminars and Workshops
‘Career Experiences’ – a fancy name for a workshop is where students will get the complete dope on a specific career, right from career introduction to interacting with premier organisations/accomplished individuals to actually participating in fun activities that give an actual flavour of that career. These career experiences focus on careers in Analytics, Finance, Marketing, Human Resource, Journalism etc.
A range of ‘Survival Skills Workshops’ gives students the much needed polish to succeed both in higher education and in new careers, covering skills like resume building, personal interviews, group discussions, case interviews, business communication and etiquettes, proficiency in business tools like Excel/Power Point etc.
The Growth and Feedback Achieved
The feedback from the student community has been overwhelming. The workshop participants have given them the positive indications and online activities have seen a large turnout and high referrals and repeat visitors.
ambitionME has seen a lot of success and is repeatedly being visited as well as a lot of its members are recommending it to friends and the likes.
Fundraising and Tie-ups
ambitionME is currently bootstrapped through founder’s equity. They have not received any external funding but do plan to raise funds in the near future to scale the team, enhance the technology platform and invest in on-the-ground reach and secure widespread online reach.
ambitionME has a number of potential partners, of which almost 20 are keen to engage the youth. They have maintained formal relationships with companies across various domains like Finance (ICICI Direct), Journalism (Outlook Money), Analytics (LatentView Analytics), IT/Outsourced Business Services (CMS Infosystems). Their other potential partners are in domains as various as Market Research, Photography and Human Resources.
Apart from the student network across both undergraduate and postgraduate colleges, they are rolling out certain campus centric projects which will result in tie-ups with specific student driven organizations.
The plan behind monetizing ambitionME
Fees are charged from students and/or the partners for the offline workshops. For the online platform, they have various pricing models, including, among others, freemium content, targeted advertisements, and sponsored activities.
The biggest Hurdle blocking the Path to Success
For building a platform like ambitionME, the first and foremost thing needed is an extensive reach. During their first 12 months they conducted over 30 on-the-ground events across Delhi/ NCR in order to collect student feedback and start building that reach, and they were successful in bringing about 5,000 students into their network! The next hurdle was to increase this reach drastically across geographies. The soon-to-be-launched online activity portal is the answer to this problem. A couple of pilot online activities have already been a strong proof of concept for them, so they believe they are going in the right direction.
Taking ambitionME to the Next Level!
Like every other startup, ambitionME too has its own ambitions and those include a whole bunch of steps which will be incorporated in the next 2-3 years. As of now, they are happy with getting the best people and expanding the team.
However, the far off vision for ambitionME is to become a part of career decision making, and without which any Indian college student can’t imagine his/her college life.
Vishal Haria had this thought to share when asked about the entrepreneurs he admires the most, “Without going into specifics we’d say we completely admire every entrepreneur who has managed to stand up for his/her dreams against all odds. Most of the ventures face a crossroad at some point in time where it is very difficult to continue down the road and it is just relatively easy to go back to a saner, normal life. But the teams which continue with the insanity are indeed something. That doesn’t mean to say that they are right as commercial sense is also pretty important, but you just have to respect the guts.”
Mr. Haria’s important piece of advice to our budding Start-up Founders: “Find co-founders with common dreams and complementary skills, network with all the wonderful people around you, be flexible and open to ideas, save all the money you can to bootstrap for some months, and above all, believe in yourself!”
With colleges brushing their hands away from placements, ambitionME is a fresh breath for aspiring students and entrepreneurs to help achieve their dreams because as said earlier, life is all about making choices.