With all the buzz around startups, the one word that one often hears is innovation, especially disruptive innovation. In fact, innovation is the bedrock on which the transformation in the business environment is happening today. With so many contenders vying for attention in this space, it is essential that your innovation stands out from the crowd. The other necessary ingredient – the right platform and guidance to take an innovation from a seed of an idea to fruition.
Over the past five years, the YES BANK Transformation Series has emerged as one of the most-awaited challenges for student entrepreneurs across the country. Just ask Janaki Thakkar, a student at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who is participating with her course mates Neelesh Singhal and Aruj Pant, and 50 other teams from the institute.
“We’d heard about the Transformation Series from our seniors, who had participated in the earlier editions. They had spoken about the event’s intense competitive nature, and the traction it gets from the YES BANK leadership. Hence, we were looking forward to participate this year,” says Janaki.
For most of them, the journey has been challenging. While the competition gave them an opportunity to apply their classroom learnings to real-world scenarios, it also gave them a chance to showcase their solutions to a panel that oversaw their projects. What’s more, they did so on camera, with the event being covered by ET NOW.
Her team mate Neelesh is equally enthusiastic. “The problem statement was multi-dimensional and we explored marketing, financial, and operational aspects to arrive at a viable solution,” he says. The trio feel that a competition like this helps them explore trends across various sectors and keeps them in sync with the developments in the business world.
“Whether you choose to be become an entrepreneur or not, entrepreneurial thinking is a must today, if you are serious about growth,” says YourStory Founder & CEO Shradha Sharma. “The YES BANK Transformation Series is a platform that is enabling students to strengthen this vital skill. Every participant takes home a learning which will help them grow irrespective of whether they participated or won the rounds subsequent to the finale. While the finale will showcase the best ideas, I personally believe there's value in every single idea.”
For the campus round of the challenge, 24 top B-schools have been divided into four zones, with campuses under each zone tackling one case study each. The four case study partners for this phase are Ezetap, Zaggle, T-Hub, and TAISYS. TAISYS calls for ideas to make smart banking inclusive; Zaggle for a strategy for an innovative prepaid instrument to simplify reimbursements; Ezetap to make payments smarter and go truly cashless; and T-Hub to help startups scale.
Janaki and the team worked on TAISYS. Talking about the learnings, she says, “The biggest learning for us has been the experience itself – preparing and working as a team, agreeing to disagree and finding value in it. We learnt to think like the managers our school trains us to become. The biggest takeaway has been to never underestimate ourselves. Every solution is within our reach, we just need to work hard and be focused.”
“Startups should also focus more on creating value rather than creating valuations,” says participant Pramod Suresh, a student of ISB-Hyderabad, who previously worked in the e-commerce and payments industry. He teamed up with his classmates, Abhinav Kapoor and Smit Desai, who are pursuing their post-graduate diploma in management at ISB.
“While ISB gives us world-class education, competitions like these help us apply concepts we learn, in the real world. It also helps in building soft skills. The YES BANK Transformation Series has exposed us to the accelerator and fintech ecosystem. It also pushed us to think on new disruptive business models,” he adds.
The campus round saw students’ ideas being judged on criteria such as research methodology, understanding of current regulatory framework, depth of analysis of core issues, innovation quotient, and feasibility of implementation and scalability.
“A competition like YES BANK Transformation series gives me an opportunity to know about this in detail and stay updated with the current industries and trends,” says Rashmi Yadawad, a student of IIM Calcutta. “Apart from knowing about current industries and trends, direct interactions with officials from YES BANK and Ezetap gave me insights from their perspective, a direct picture of what they have already tried. Competing with the campus winners across different B-school campuses will also give me more learnings and the fire to give my best!”
About 24,000 students from across the country enthusiastically participated in the event. A key reason for the high participation numbers is that the challenge has earned a name for being a platform that enables students to enhance their skills and the industry connect.
To qualify for the campus rounds, students had to register in teams of three and submit a 1,000-word executive summary for the case study assigned to their zone. Based on the submission, the corresponding case study partner and YES BANK shortlisted the top teams.
The preliminary selections for this round were conducted from September 1 - 30, with 20 campuses being shortlisted. The finalists were chosen based on the feasibility for YES BANK and the corresponding case study partner in that zone. However, four campuses were selected via video-conferencing or Skype.
Apart from naming the winners and runners-up in the campus round, additional prizes were given away for the most innovative idea, most implementable solution, best marketing plan, and Y-Star presenter. This year saw a number of online engagements that generated a huge buzz in the student community. For instance, prior to the campus rounds, teams that submitted their entries before August 21 were eligible for the early bird submission prize. There was also a Cheatcode Day, through which the top five winners got the opportunity to have their queries addressed by the case-study partner.
The jury comprised a mix of leaders from YES BANK and respective case study partners in each zone. Some of the prominent names included Avinash Godkhindi, CEO, Zaggle; Abhishek Saxena, Managing Director, TAISYS India; Jay Krishnan, CEO, T-Hub; and Sanjeeb Kalita, Chief Revenue Officer, Ezetap.
Following the campus round, 15 teams will now proceed to the next stage where they will work on a case study shared by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). This will include the three best teams from each zone, and three teams who will get a wildcard entry.
Watch this space to know about next phase of the YES Bank Transformation Series