Entrepreneurs Helpline – Nurture Talent Academy
Nurture Talent Academy can be called a helpline, catalyst, enabler, supporter or any such adjective you can describe it with. Started in January, 2010, it has conducted 40 workshops across 15 cities attended by 670 entrepreneurs. It will be 1 year old in a month, and already few companies have started their ventures after attending the workshops. In a chat with Yourstory team, Amit shares his journey as an entrepreneur and way ahead.
Can you tell us about your personal background?
I was born and brought up in Kanpur in a middle class family, and was a meritorious student with some interest in sports. After schooling, I joined IIT Delhi to do mechanical engineering. I started my career with Infosys in their engineering services team. After 2 years at Infosys across various projects in Pune, Bangalore and Mysore, I left to do my MBA from IIM Indore. My next stint was with Asian Paints where I travelled widely across almost half of Maharashtra to places like Latur, Osmanabad, Barshi, Pandharpur (and Mahabaleshwar) trying to convince to dealers and customers to buy more of our brand. Later, I joined Onida responsible for new projects, business reviews, sales and reported to the Chairman, Gulu Mirchandani.
Ok, so you had a high-paying and satisfying job. What made you leave?
I didn’t leave overnight – I was with Onida for 3 years. Actually, the story began when I joined Onida. At the same time, Mumbai Angels – India’s premium group of angel investors was also born. Gulu Mirchandani’s son Sasha Mirchandani and few other individuals started the group and Sasha invited me to take care of the investments. This was December 2006. Since then, I must have met over 2000 entrepreneurs personally, and talked to several others. So you can see how I learned the E of entrepreneurship, and skipped the ABCD part. As a logical next step, it was natural for me to turn into an entrepreneur. When you meet people of that sort daily, you want to become one! Even after starting Nurture Talent, I continue to be a part of Mumbai Angels.
Great, so how did the idea of Nurture Talent Academy come to you?
As I told you, the decision to become an entrepreneur came first – then I took nearly 3 months to converge on the idea of Nurture Talent Academy (also the notice period at my job!). I realized that the startup mortality rate is high not because of lack of ideas, but because lot of entrepreneurs jump into business without deep understanding of fundamentals like finance, marketing, business plan etc. For example, my first question to an entrepreneur approaching Mumbai Angels was “How much money do you need?” You will be surprised to know 90% couldn’t answer that. So I thought it would be good to impart basic skills, provide knowledge, information and guidance to the budding entrepreneurs, so that we can ensure that they don’t die. In reality, I was also able to inspire some people to take out the fear of entrepreneurship and start their ventures!
Can you describe what you do in the training workshops?
We conduct short duration programs, and have a mix of presentations, interaction, exercises and query resolution sessions. All templates and study/reference material is shared with the participants. One key component is that every session is conducted by a successful entrepreneur, angel investor or venture capitalist along with me. This gives a real life, practical inputs to the startups and is highly appreciated for its actionable insights instead of theoretical models.
Did you face any challenges while starting up?
Sure, the first thing was to convince my wife and parents, and they were apprehensive but supportive at the same time. Infact, my mother told me that if I wanted any investments, we could take a loan on property – it was very touching. Then there were challenges in opening a current account with a bank, getting the pricing right, spreading the word and marketing to customers! Another challenge is to work with partners – organizations who are already having access to or working with entrepreneurs or colleges/institutes who have students but unfortunately they don’t like working with a startup. All the time, I kept my intent and objective clear, kept moving and executing - this helped to create a certain positioning for Nurture Talent Academy.
How has the response been? Who are your customers?
The response has been tremendous. I get requests from entrepreneurs daily – not only future but existing entrepreneurs. Nurture Talent Academy has completed 40 workshops, attended by 670 startups across 15 cities. There are more than 100 experts on board to guide and mentor startups. We got featured in Business Today’s Hottest Startups, ET Now Starting up, CNBC Awaaz Entrepreneur and Bloomberg UTV. Our customers include working professionals (who wish to start), young startups (who are facing challenges in business) and students across several colleges in India.
What are your future plans?
We have launched our online webinar sessions and plan to scale it by offering more variety and depth of programs relevant to startups. We also plan to further improve the eco-system, by working with the network of investors, incubators, mentors and service providers. There are so many things we can do, need to do and will do – we have just begun. I am a “Baby” entrepreneur.
Are you a funded company? What are your plans for fund-raising?
Yes, we are funded by our customers, savings from my previous job and my provident fund. We are bootstrapped and not planning to raise funds.
Thanks for sharing your story, would you like to give any message to our readers?
Paulo Coelho says, “If you want something really badly, the universe conspires to get it to you.” In a country where the GDP is growing by 9-10%, every sector is an area of opportunity. I believe that as an entrepreneur, you just need to get down and start up!
Yourstory team wishes Nurture Talent Academy all the best for the future.