This article is sponsored by Lenovo
Two young students develop winning ideas – one app helps students develop soft skills needed to get a job, the other gives traditional artisans an online platform to collaborate and sell their wares online.
Shubham Upadhyay’s dreams for his future evolved a lot over the years. As a kindergarten student, he wanted to become a pilot. As a high school student, an engineer. In his pre-university days, the merchant navy seemed attractive. But after careful thought, hours of deliberation, talking to his fellow students and professors while doing his bachelor’s, he finally reached a conclusion. Shubham decided to get an MBA form a reputed institute: “I want to get into a good college, so that I can chart my own future.”
It was around this time that he came to know about the Lenovo’s Start Off as CEO contest and decided to apply. As a student pursuing a Bachelors of Arts at Ewing Christian College in Allahabad, Shubham, says, “The contest instilled a new thought, a new dream. Sometime ago, I read about a 10-year-old who designed his own app. The story inspired me, and but then it just got buried as I got busy with studies.” He adds, “When I heard about the contest, I decided why not participate? There was so much to gain.”
The contest required Shubham to conceptualise a business idea in just four lines. Shubham says, “I didn’t know if I had expressed it well enough for the judges to understand.” He won the contest, which definitely hints that his doubts were unfounded.
His idea focuses on developing an app that can help students develop their soft skills with a special focus on speaking skills. He says, “Today, the way you speak, the way you carry yourself, can make a lot of difference. So it’s important that even students from small towns equip themselves with these skills as they get ready to enter the job market. That is where an app like this will help.”
Winning the contest was a great morale booster, says Shubham. He explains that he is so much more confident that he will able to live his dream. He says, “Becoming an entrepreneur now seems achievable. I know I have a long way to go, but it’s possible.”
A dream comes true
Shubham’s college mate and friend, Adarsh Srivastava, also participated in the contest. Adarsh, who completed his schooling in the small town of Gorakhpur, had shifted base to Allahabad in search of better educational facilities. Coming from a rural background, Adarsh says, “I have seen how artisans, especially those from cottage industries, face difficulties. Many don’t have access to go online, which is a necessity today if you have to find a market for your product.” He had always wanted to address this problem. And, he thought why not work on a solution and present this as a contest entry. Adarsh’s idea is to create a platform, which enables people working in cottage industries to collaborate and go online. Adarsh’s idea is inspired by the e-commerce platforms which he believes ‘has revolutionised the Indian market.’
For Adarsh, the win has made a tiny dream come true. With a smile he says, “Having lived in a small town, the city of Mumbai fascinated me. Bollywood made it sound so magical. I always wanted to make it to Mumbai someday. Lenovo helped me to achieve this dream.” Adarsh now plans to take the civil services examination – another long-cherished dream. He says, “It will take a few more years before I can do so. But, when I do, I will also use the resources at hand to ensure that the winning idea will transition from paper to become an on-ground reality.”
Bhaskar Choudhuri, Director Marketing, Lenovo India, says, “Start Off as CEO, is an initiative to encourage the youth to develop their ideas and ignite their entrepreneurship spirit. Lenovo values new talent and we hope through this initiative we have been able to inspire their entrepreneurial thinking and enabled them to build businesses that they believe in.”
This is part of a series featuring winners from the Start off as CEO contest organised by Lenovo in collaboration with the e-cell of IIT Bombay.