This post has been sponsored by UpGrad.
When 12-year-old Omisha wanted to learn ballet lessons, her mother Mridula Chhetri found it difficult to find a tutor, and had to eventually convince Omisha to enrol for Kathak since the classes were being held relatively close by. This experience gave birth to the idea of bringing expert tutors for co-curricular activities right into the comfort of people’s homes. Four years later, today, she is living her dream, with her entrepreneurial venture, Inmovidu, going live on June 1. Among the many factors that helped her take the entrepreneurial plunge with confidence is the 15-week entrepreneurship online bootcamp – StartUp with UpGrad.
Mridula says, “Like many entrepreneurs, I was not sure if online programmes would really help. So when I discussed this with a friend and looked up the course more intensely, I decided to give it a try. And, I am glad I did.”
A well-defined agenda built on the ‘do and learn’ principle
Mridula explains that she has been able to implement many of the learnings from the bootcamp. This includes working on the venture’s vision statement, learning to translate that vision to concrete goals, identifying critical success factors for the business, and increasing visibility by applying digital marketing techniques.
The StartUp with UpGrad online bootcamp helps entrepreneurs like Mridula because it is tailored for the Indian startup ecosystem, with a strong focus on the ‘do and learn,’ principle. The bootcamp exposes entrepreneurs to key entrepreneurial challenges, helps them understand alternative approaches of handling these challenges, and identifies the pros and cons of each of these alternatives. The four-month-long bootcamp helps strengthen and sharpen entrepreneurial skills essential at every stage of growth – idea validation, scaling up, funding – and gears them to meet volatile market demands.
Interesting on-ground events and building a community that helps you grow
Armed with three years’ experience in the family’s textile business, Romil Jain was confident of going solo and kickstarted an online business. But, he also knew that he needed to equip himself with more understanding and market insights. He found out about the registration for the first batch of the StartUp with UpGrad online bootcamp two days before it closed. He applied. He says,
“I applied because the bootcamp focused on building a community and was not limited to a great curriculum or course content.”
At StartUp with UpGrad, while the learning happens pre-dominantly online, there is an interesting and enriching offline offering. Complementing the online learning are offline events and meet ups organised to facilitate interaction and networking. Romil says, “A lot of emphasis is given to helping each other. Since I came with some marketing experience, I would share my learnings with peers during the meetups and online discussions. And, they in turn, would help me out with tech-related queries. This is where an engaging and active community plays a role.” Romil opines,
“You learn to build on each other’s strengths to grow.”
The online and offline networking opportunities also open up multiple avenues – interesting ideas to work on or interesting people to work with. In fact, many even find their co-founder, mentor, or investor. Pranav Marwah, Co-Founder, ThinQbate, an incubator and accelerator, says, “StartUp with UpGrad allowed me to hone my entrepreneurial skills and more importantly connected me to fellow entrepreneurs.''
Getting to learn from India’s top entrepreneurs
At the online bootcamp, participants get to learn about real-life successes and failures from more than 40 top Indian entrepreneurs across domains. This list of entrepreneurs includes YourStory Founder, Shradha Sharma; Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder of Snapdeal; Deep Kalra, Founder, Make My Trip; Ambareesh Murthy, Co-Founder; Rishi Malhotra, Co-Founder, Saavn, and many luminaries of the Indian startup ecosystem. Getting to learn from these pioneering leaders help entrepreneurs put their best foot forward.
Additionally, case studies about the startups of these 40 entrepreneurs help the participants understand and learn from their experiences, be it about learning to scale or changing the business’ focus to align with market trends.
Mentoring support and industry insights
The online bootcamp is designed to enable high-impact interaction with fellow entrepreneurs, receive regular mentoring from industry experts, investors, and founders. Top Indian entrepreneurs, academic faculty, and investors provide insights and guidance on key entrepreneurial challenges. Participants also benefit from the Google Hangouts with industry experts organised every week. These sessions offer an insider’s view point and expert suggestions.
Romil explains, “Apart from the course content, the support and mentoring from the UpGrad team was very helpful, especially the guidance I got from UpGrad co-Founders and industry veterans Ronnie Screwvala and Mayank Kumar.”
While a key challenge most online courses face is getting queries answered, UpGrad ensures this never happens by allotting a dedicated ‘buddy’ to every student. Further, UpGrad’s dedicated team of domain experts pitch in to help with queries. Telling us more about how much interacting with a buddy helped, Romil says, “When I told my buddy that I needed some help in the area of marketing, I was put in touch with BlueStone’s VP-Marketing, who had just joined UpGrad. This kind of support makes UpGrad stand tall, because you can connect with the company whenever you need help; it is not limited to just course content.”
The concepts and framework of the online bootcamp have been designed by the experts. These include experienced professors and industry veterans such as Atul Singh, Professor, Political Economy, UC Berkeley; Sidharth Roy Kapur, Managing Director, Disney India; Jayantha Chatterjee, Professor, Design Thinking, IIT Kanpur; and Tarun Davda, Partner, Matrix Partners, and Prayank Swaroop, Vice President, Accel Partners, among others.
The twin advantage of flexibility and rigorousness for entrepreneurs on-the-go
Designed for today’s new gen entrepreneurs to help themselves and learn more effectively, 75 percent of the course content is online, which participants can complete at their own pace in the permitted timeframe. The online course content is complemented with interesting assignments to ensure that aspiring or debutant entrepreneurs are able to imbibe essential entrepreneurship lessons and understand some of intricacies essential to succeed in today’s market. Romil, who is the founder of GentClub, an men-only styling portal, says,
“Before joining UpGrad, there were lot of grey areas about my venture idea. The sessions on ideation helped me focus on the micro details that I had unknowingly ignored. The sessions on product design were a major contributor in helping me design the website and positioning the product for a larger audience.”
UpGrad Pitch Day
A key feature of bootcamp is the UpGrad Pitch Day, where selected entrepreneurs get to pitch their idea or business in front of a jury of 10+ experienced angel investors, top venture capital funds (Unilazer, Blume), and successful entrepreneurs. It’s a direct chance to get the attention of these big guys, which is every entrepreneur’s dream. Romil and Mridula are hoping to be part of the UpGrad pitch day and are sharpening their pitches. They say that while the funding aspect of the pitch day is like a bonus, just getting to present your ideas, getting feedback and validation from the big names is a great growth booster.
Applications are now open for the third cohort
After understanding the salient features of the bootcamp and hearing these entrepreneurs’ account of their experience at UpGrad and how it helped, if there’s a doubt gnawing at you, you could opt for the one-week free trial and see for yourself! Once you are convinced, you need to apply right away. After two successful batches, the third batch is scheduled to kick off on June 25, 2016.
The StartUp with UpGrad is a selective programme and candidates are shortlisted based on their application form. This is to make sure that participants share the same level of commitment and passion for entrepreneurship. For the first cohort of the entrepreneurship online bootcamp, 120 entrepreneurs from 12 countries and 71 cities were selected out of 1,600 applications!