Are you a student who is looking out to explore some rewarding opportunities in the field of entrepreneurship? Or do you have a full time job but wish to cultivate your talents and fulfil your dream of becoming an entrepreneur? Innovate Delhi is looking for young aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start the next great tech and web enabled startups. To help them achieve their goals, it is offering an intensive three-week full-day program that runs from June 1st to June 22nd at IIIT-Delhi with funding from the SEED Institute at Stanford GSB and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi. The program covers design thinking, how to build a business, and the details of starting a new venture. You just have to be over 18, have a laptop, and speak English to apply.
To know more about Innovate Delhi and the benefits it offers, we got in touch with Rem Koning, Cofounder of Innovate Delhi Entrepreneurship Academy.
Tell us a bit about your background and the path that ultimately led you towards Innovate Delhi. Where did your vision for Innovate Delhi come from?
Well, the backgrounds of the Innovate Delhi co-founders are really diverse. I graduated from the University of Chicago with degrees in Mathematics and Statistics before spending a year in a Masters of Architecture program. After dropping out of architecture school I found my way to Stanford GSB as a PhD student where I met Sharique, who did his PhD at Carnegie Mellon before joint Stanford as a professor. One day we were chatting over lunch, doing something that academics do a lot, which is worrying about how our research makes a difference in the larger world. If I remember correctly, I joked that we should start an accelerator, and Sharique — instead of laughing — ran with the idea. By the end of lunch we had known we wanted to start an accelerator in India to both enable entrepreneurs and to learn from their experiences. Sharique knew PK from graduate school at Carnegie Mellon. PK, now a professor at IIIT-Delhi, loved the idea too, and so Innovate Delhi was born.
What aspects of entrepreneurship are covered in the three-week program?
We focus on the business, people, and design aspects that are critical to a venture’s success. The first week of the program covers design thinking, the second week how to build a business, and the third gives the aspiring entrepreneurs in our program the chance to build out the beginnings of a new venture. It all ends in a pitch day, with a great keynote speaker and a chance for the students to win prize money — money that hopefully allows them to build our their new venture. There is more information on our website at www.innovatedelhi.com/learnmore and a day-by-day schedule at www.innovatedelhi.com/schedule.
What are the qualifications of teachers who will be delivering lectures to the students?
We will have a talk by successful entrepreneurs from Delhi, and India more broadly, almost every day during the program. We are still nailing down the final list of speakers but take a look at our blog, blog.innovatedelhi.com, to get a sense of the quality of speakers we will have. It should be pretty amazing!
Instead of standard exams and assignments Innovate Delhi is team and activity based. Each day the students will be working in teams to tackle problems real startups face. Coaches — including Sharique, PK, and I — will be working hands on with each team. We have designed custom activities for each day of the program. The activities leverage the web and draw on the knowledge generated at Stanford GSB and at Stanford’s d.school.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
I think the biggest hurdle is spreading the word to as diverse and broad audience as we can. We hope to attract both engineers and artists, men and women, university students and professionals. Often we think that a single “founder” starts a venture and changes the world. Instead, its team of diverse people starts, grows and makes the company successful — and also changes the world.
Is the program affiliated to a university?
We are very much an independent program. IIIT-Delhi has generously provided us with their campus and Stanford has provided grant funding. By being independent we are forced to take on a true “startup mentality,” which we need to have if we really want to help aspiring entrepreneurs. It keeps us hungry, nimble, ambitious, and a little crazy — all characteristics you need when starting a company.
How will this program help budding entrepreneurs in the long run?
Beyond introducing the students to the latest frameworks and models, the 3 week program will allow for the formation of lifelong friendships. Every day at Stanford I see how Silicon Valley runs not on chips and bits but on relationships between people. Everyone has a rich set of relationships that they can draw on when they need to find a co-founder, get advice, raise money or really anything else. Without these connections no amount of knowledge and skill can build great companies. More formally, students will have access to the Innovate Delhi alumni network so they can keep in touch and network with each other for years to come.
How much are you charging the students?
The online application is free and with generous funding from the SEED Institute at Stanford GSB and IIIT-D the only mandatory cost is a small materials and technology charge totaling Rs. 3,000. For students staying on campus, there will be Rs 11,000 room and board fee.
Do you have any future plans of extending the program beyond Delhi?
Not at this moment, but hopefully we can inspire others to expand into other cities and countries. We are hoping the curriculum we develop can serve as a useful template for others, particularly in other developing countries. Right now we are strongly invested in making the Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem one of the best in the world.
Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to soon to be startup founders?
Build a great team. Relationships, both within the team and to the larger ecosystem, are really essential. It is part of the reason we designed Innovate Delhi as a three week program, so that the students can really get to know one another. Hackathons are awesome for idea generation but at Innovate Delhi, you’ll get a chance to deeply meet, learn form, and work with other people.
Thanks Rem! So, if you are interested in building your own startup and gaining an invaluable learning experience, apply to Innovate Delhi at www.innovatedelhi.com/apply! Applications are due by February 1st.