India’s Got TalEx! - A Platform for Showcasing Young Talents by IIT Hyderabad Students

3rd Jan 2012
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Talex

Are you a writer, an article writer perhaps, a critic, a director, a painter, photographer or aspiring to be one?If the answer to any of the above is yes, brace yourself. This article was made for you. Introducing TalEx India, a platform on which your talent can be recognised by the best in the business and a pool of mentors to guide you on how to build a career in the field of your interest.

In conversation with co-founder Ankit Mishra, Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory finds out more on how he and his bunch of young IIT Hyderabad students believed that they can develop a market that handles the marketing aspects for a student and also get benefited out of sharing their talent!

Hi, Talex team! Please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Hello, We are students of IIT Hyderabad. Our team consists of students from different years giving us diverse reach to students of different years all over the country. Arnav Mohan, one of the Co-Founder of TalEx is a fourth year student, who has worked for the college festival for three continuous years and has good experience in event management and marketing. The TalEx Idea, in its raw form, was the criterion for Arnav’s selection as a delegate in the ASES India Summit 2010. Kunal Aggarwal and Ankit Mishra, other Co-Founders of TalEx are studying in 3rd and 2nd year respectively and have experience of Social Media, Events and P.R. Kunal Aggarwal has worked for college festival of IIT Hyderabad as Finance Core. Ankit Mishra has been involved in many cultural and informal events happening in and around the college.


Ankit

And together you came to create this platform called TalEx. Enunciate please.TalEx India is dedicated towards fixing blaring loopholes in the Indian Education system by providing a practical exposure to the students for their hobbies and talents. It does so by raising a market for struggling college students with amateur talents, who are in search for a platform/recognition. TalEx procures resources such as designs, photographs, written content, video content from youth of the country and markets them back primarily to the youth through Apparel, Media and Events Industry. (For eg. All the digitally procured talent, is being exhibited through our upcoming online magazine; designs and photography are marketed as services for events such as college festivals)

And how do you scout for such talent? Do you have a defined marketing strategy?

We have recently launched a talent sharing platform where anyone can showcase his/her talent and we continuously analyse. It will be a new experience in social networking where your spent time will be valued. We also call it virtual work space for the students, where they can earn from their talents, get feedback on their work from their counter parts and polish their skills.

Apart from general P.R. platforms, we are working on a new concept for ‘distribution system’ in the youth through a network of Campus Ambassadors, where they will manage TalEx at a micro level. So a Campus Ambassador helps us procure the resources (towards services requested by other companies, and our own product development) and also find customers for our products (when we propose sale of apparels, merchandise and readership for our upcoming magazine).

Are students outside campus allowed to showcase their talent too?

Yeah! As talent is not bound by any campus, neither are we! Students from outside the campus are allowed to showcase their talent. Right now there are around 300 students from cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Jaipur who are contributing towards the TalEx.

Who is defined as ‘client’ on your portal? Which companies are on board already?

Different companies, organizations, start-ups or college festivals looking for any services like designing (T-shirts, brochure, website), content writing/ editing (for their website, brochure, blog), and photography services are our clients. We are already associated with a few college festivals like Elan, IIT Hyderabad, Nexus, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi and FABS, Badruka College of Commerce. We are in talks with many other college festivals in major cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai and Kanpur. We have associated with HetuVibe, a startup by alumni of Mumbai University for selling our T-Shirt designs, and also in talks with some more companies.


Arnav

How does the revenue model work?We deal in T-Shirts and other customized products and sell them directly to our clients that include colleges and companies. Major part of our revenue comes from merchandising and designing services but in later phases, as the no. of users on our portal will increase, we can generate revenue from sponsored ads and crowd outsourcing as well. And after April we will also be moving into eCommerce for sailing our customized products, books and magazines.

What were your greatest challenges as undergrads to get into entrepreneurship?

Being an undergrad, the biggest challenge is to get time out of our daily schedule and work upon the idea. Secondly, it was quite difficult to execute the things on time with the normal semester work. Also being in a new engineering institution, it’s hard for us to venture into something non-technical. As we started, our main problem was the website which recently got solved by the help of Karan Shah who is a freelance web-developer. Then other major problems included money and rewards that we needed for talented people on our network and lack of business experience.

So how did you tackle the finance issues? Are you looking at fundraising now?

Initially all of us put in some amount of money for starting up. Initial expenses were for the website, paying freelancers for their projects, prizes for the different competitions that we have organized. However we are still testing the market and till now have sold around 200 t-shirts and got some projects and therefore generated a revenue of around 50,000, which is expected to increase with a good rate after few months.

We will approach some investors and VC’s for funding after April, when Arnav will complete his graduation and then we will also be moving into the eCommerce.

Where do you see yourself six months down the line?

Six months down the line, we see TalEx at a stage where we would be stabilized in the market with clients and students on our network sharing their content. Although we are not earning that much at this point of time, but we see TalEx as a growing community of people where students are being helped and getting market for their talent through us. We will be launching an online youth magazine “Youth Diaries” in the month of January which will showcase some of the articles, poems, reviews, photographs and design thus helping them reach out to the actual market.


Kunal

Where do you plan to shift hub to after your graduation?Currently we are based in Hyderabad, but after the graduation we will be shifting to Delhi or Bangalore, but have not decided yet.

Are there other players in the market doing similar things? What is your USP?

If we talk about the whole idea of TalEx, there is no such player, but there are a few companies who deal in related things like merchandise, magazines, designing companies, but separately. So we are one stop solution for all the needs of an organization. Also, our resource providers are students, so we provide these services at cheaper rate than other alternatives- the project through crowd outsourcing gives more options to the clients and creates the positive PR about the product or organization.

And when it comes to our own merchandise products ( T-shirts, hoodies, mugs etc.) and magazine, our resource providers (Youth of India) are also the prospective customers, therefore the products will create brand re-impact and micro level democracy (for the youth, by the youth and of the youth), and they will be getting it at relatively lower price. We are creating a market by the youth and for the youth; getting them hands on experience in their teens itself.

Can you share with us some interesting trends about the market that you are trying to capture?

The market we are trying to capture is quite unorganized, due to which, entering into the market is easy. Portal is an online virtual space and in India, youth have become internet savvy so getting people on network is also easy. With that comes some problem like - it is difficult to establish a trust in the beginning. Clients normally don’t go for long term relations in the business in initial phase.

Since when are you operational?

It’s been six months now. We started developing our website and network in the month of July. However, we actually entered the market and started approaching people in the month of August, and there were some breaks during the exam times.

How big is your team including freelancers? Are you looking at hiring?

Apart from the Co-Founders there are some other members Akshay Pamnani, Pushkar Jajoria, Shivam Lohtia, Anjishnu Choudhury and Sunny Kumar. There are around 100 freelancers who are providing resources on regular basis however there are around 500 freelancers in our database.

Also, we have a team of around 70 Campus Ambassadors who recognize talent at College level and bring them onto the TalEx network, where they can showcase their talent and get recognition.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

We would like to tell that it is a challenge for us to create a platform for all kinds of artistic work but with the time we will be helping people interested in performing arts, however they can still showcase their talent on our network and get recognition. So, we need support and help from everyone. We are open to any suggestions that might give us a way to go! We are students and are in developing phase, we would be looking forward to people supporting us in reaching out to their friends, companies.

For more information please check out TalEx India and do share your thoughts by leaving a comment here!

Abhilasha Dafria

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