Tapping entrepreneurial potential

Tapping entrepreneurial potential

September 3, 2015

Often start-ups with static business plans fail miserably since there is a sharp difference between reality and the plan. Young inexperienced entrepreneurs need to develop a certain perspective before they can bridge that gap. More often than not, most successful entrepreneurs tend to gain that perspective from their first failures. In fact, it is almost like a rite of passage for one to experience the turbulent shape-shifting markets and learn lessons in entrepreneurship the hard way. A group of young IITians believe that they can make it a little easier.


IIT Kharagpur Entrepreneurship Cell

There is a pressing need for implementation-dynamic methods and systematic planning while starting a venture. This prompted the Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT Kharagpur to come up with a way to give young, deserving entrepreneurs an opportunity to utilise and develop their business acumen.

The Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT Kharagpur is a students’ organisation established with the aim of fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship among college students in India. Oindrila Saha, associate member of the Entrepreneurship Cell at the IIT said that the cell is playing a vital role in developing upcoming start-ups into successful companies. The cell is one of the most successful entrepreneurial organisations in the country, with over fifty start-ups incubated within eight years of inception.

Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (newsmobile.in)

The Entrepreneurship Cell is searching for innovative and enterprising ideas through ‘Empresario’, its annual, and India’s only, global business model competition. The competition provides a platform for students to get excellent professional mentorship from an experienced, varied and distinguished mentor pool at IIT Kharagpur, and to showcase their ideas in front of venture capitalists, angel investors and industry leaders. The good news is that not only students of IIT Kharagpur but those from campuses all over the country would be able to participate.

Empresario 2015-2016

Empresario 2015-2016 will be hosted by IIT Kharagpur and will serve as one of the global qualifier rounds for the prestigious International Business Model Competition (IBMC). IBMC is hosted by Stanford, Harvard and Brigham Young universities. The best entries in all categories will get an opportunity to participate directly in the semi-final rounds of IBMC 2016.

Empresario is currently accepting business ideas in all fields, which include product and service, product design and social categories. Participants will be required to fill up a questionnaire explaining in briefly what exactly their business idea comprises.

Shortlisted applicants are provided help in terms of mentorship and the winners get the opportunity to pitch their ideas in the presence of some of India’s biggest venture capitalists and investors. Empresario participants are mentored and supported by organisations like TiE and National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN). Advice is provided on legal matters, taxation, and the financial and technical aspects of running a start-up; HR needs and incubation opportunities are also provided.

Last year’s winners (ecell.iit-kgp.org)

There are six winners in total, in four categories – winner and runner-up of Products & Services Track, winner and runner-up of Social Track; best innovative product (Product Design) and best IIT Kharagpur entry.  They get to win prize money and incubation money to the tune of Rs 2.5 crore. The prizes and services for last year’s winners were worth Rs 15 lakh.

Here is the link to the website, where you can register: Empresario 2015-2016

To learn how to prepare submissions, please visit this link: ABOUT B-MODEL 

The success of Beta Glide

‘Beta Glide’ was a start-up entry for Empresario 2014-2015, made by the students of IIT Kharagpur. It was a mobile app-testing platform that allowed developers to gather information in real-time. They could monitor the system usage and the behaviour of their apps in order to improve their stability and performance. It won the Tech Transfer Investment Prize, sponsored by the US investor, Mercury Fund, at the Rice Business Plan Competition and got international recognition. One of the winners of Empresario 2014-2015, Beta Glide secured funding of around $1 million, the largest funding among all the start-ups at the Rice Business Plan Competition.

What it hopes to achieve

Empresario represents a radical departure from the past. It is all about recognising concepts. Unlike a business plan competition, participants are not rewarded for doing lots of library research, drawing fancy graphs, or crafting the perfect sales pitch to venture capitalists.

Over 85% of new businesses fail within the first few years. Any idea for a new venture is actually just a guess at solving a problem; the only way to check whether one’s guesses are right or not is to test the hypothesis – ‘get outside the building’ and validate the idea with self-developed research and strategy on the product, the market, the consumer group and the business environment.

Empresario provides a platform for this sort testing of business models. It helps in applying customer development/lean start-up principles to make sure the would-be entrepreneurs nail the solution. The mentors teach the participants how to continuously evolve their ideas until they have a customer-validated business model with radically improved chances of success.

Self-developed research and strategy is an important factor in India as markets vary profusely and hence, comparative data is hardly ever helpful.


IITians would soon be visiting various campuses in Kolkata to help and guide students with entrepreneurial ideas on how to be successful. A business model must be designed so that it can change rapidly to reflect what you find while talking to customers. It should be visual, dynamic and reflective of real situations and circumstances that challenge start-ups in various spheres including legal, social and political ones.


In the past, Empresario has been launched in association with TiE Kolkata, Mahindra Spark the Rise and Dell Social Innovation Challenge. The title sponsor for this year’s competition is IBM. The final rounds of Empresario 2015-2016 will be held during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in January 2016.

Written by Daniel Johns

Lead image: ecell-iitkgp.org

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