Few days back, we spoke about JED-i, an initiative looking to make engineering education in India more meaningful. JED-i stands for Joy of Engineering, Design and Innovation, it is the brainchild of two academicians and is backed by Accel Partners, India. Two exceptional individuals at the helm, JED-i is trying to change the way engineering is approached in India (full story).The investment was made more than a year ago but we caught up with Anand Daniel, Principal at Accel India at a recent Stanford Ignite event (which Jed-I had hosted) to learn more.
YS: Hi Anand, thanks for talking to us. Tell us a little something about your decision to invest in JED-i.
AD: My primary focus at Accel is education and healthcare, and we'd been tracking the education sector for a few years. We understand the problem with the education system that the founders of JED-i are talking about. And with engineers, the system doesn't train them properly and most of them find it difficult to be gainfully employed. Other initiatives we came across, were not trying to change the system by becoming a part of it. That's where JED-i stood apart. They want to penetrate deep in the system so their methods become organic to engineering education in India. The founders are experienced teachers and confident of their initiative. That's everything we needed to back them, entrepreneurs who can run their own show and a good product, that can make an impact.
YS: How do you support the initiative as a board member on JED-i?
AD: I am not operationally involved. That part is in able hands. But I provide support in hiring the right team and also business development opportunities, especially with corporates. An initiative like JED-i needs to work with the industry, so the training and the education is relevant to what is expected and required. Besides that, I am available for all strategic advise or guidance, in terms of how to grow, visibility, tie-ups, like the one we recently did with Stanford Business School.
YS: What is your vision for JED-i?
AD: The potential is huge. Currently, there are about 800,000 engineers graduating every year, only 10% of them find meaningful employment. So, in terms of making an impact, there's a long way JED-i can go. But we are taking it step by step. Currently, the focus is colleges only. But there is also room to work with corporates on training their fresh graduates. JED-i will be introducing the programme to few other colleges in a month. They're growing from strength to strength. Our investment horizon is around 3-5 years. So we're not in a hurry.
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