5th International Entrepreneurship Conference

Theme - "Entrepreneurs as Disruptive Innovators"

Disruptive Innovation is all about Reimagining Competition and bringing new customers into an existing market or creating consumption from a non-consuming segment. And a disruptive innovator is one who is able to provide the reimagined product or service at a low price point profitably by using a business model that is not attractive to the established leader in the market.

Mrs. Padma Chandrasekharan, an angel investor with Chennai Angels and an IIM-A graduate was the chief guest for the day. The conference also featured some high profile speakers, participants and panelists like Dr Ravindran (chairman Aravind Eye care), Mr. C.K Ranganathan (founder CMD Cavinkare), Mr Raghavendra Rao (CMD Orchid pharma), Mr. Devi Shetty (Narayana Hrudalayala) and corporates honchos from Tata motors, Godrej, Hindustan Unilever etc., who shared their thoughts with the students through the inaugural session, the panel discussions and the Valedictory session.

Prof Bala V Balachandran, in his inaugural address, expressed his delight at the increasing number of entrepreneurial ideas and ventures, especially from the 16-23 age-group in the silicon valley and mentioned that this spirit is somehow lacking in their Indian counterparts.

Dr. K.C. John spoke about how in today’s world of cut-throat competition, disruption is the way to go and that it has become a necessary condition for creating a mutually inclusive society. Explaining the reason for choosing ‘disruptive innovation’ as the theme, he said that the theme was appropriate because the school itself believes in redefining instead of just maintaining the trajectory of progress.

Mrs. Padma Chandrasekaran, was a founder member of SIFY and has also worked for Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. Mrs. Chandrasekaran spoke about the qualities necessary for being an entrepreneur and which every budding entrepreneur should inculcate – A strong Vision, Belief in self, Going out and exploring, Iterating. She also spoke about other important factors that decide the fate of the businesses like choosing one’s partner, the core product/idea, the traction etc. She also emphasized on the importance of piloting a concept and getting a few paying customers before going to the market.

Prof. G. Sunderraman led the Panel discussion and set the context before inviting Mr. Alok Goel - Chief Products officer, Redbus to share his views. Mr. Goel spoke about the various aspects of disruptive innovation by sharing his experience and by citing 4 examples that changed the world. These were Facebook – by giving people the power to share and making the world more open and interactive, Googledocs – by making usage amazingly simple and using the power of iteration, Nokia – who lost the race as it failed to bet on the market and missed the trend and the example of his brainchild, Redbus which changed the way bus tickets were booked forever and affected an entire group of travel agents who made their living by doing that. He also put in a word of caution by saying that while the examples sounded fascinating and it was ok for anyone to talk about it in hindsight, it is very difficult to avoid or predict the occurrence of such game changing events. He ended by saying that Iteration, perseverance, evolving the product day in and day out is what is required to make it work and that’s what an innovator should focus on.

Mr. Rajesh Nahar – CEO and co-founder, Cbazaar.com, spoke about his journey as a disruptive innovator and how he along with his partner started the Disruptive Innovation Cloud! He also emphasized the importance of nurturing a strong passion and the power of iteration by saying that it took him 7-8 years to figure out what would really work for them and till then, it was very important to keep building on the initial plan according to the situation. He finished his talk by asking the students to be customer centric and to realize the latent demand of the consumers, as that was a very important pre-requisite of getting the idea.

Mr. Manivannan, CEO – Desicrew, a rural BPO. He explained what the concept and model of Desicrew through a video and went on to say that it was built on the single idea that it was high time India harnessed the power of the crowd residing in its rural areas.

Prof. G. Sunderraman, then gave his concluding remarks by connecting the concept of disruptive innovation to entrepreneurship and said that ‘trying not to kill the customer’ was the core of disruptive innovation! He then shared his experience of working with Prof. Clayton and his journey of developing the Chotukool. He noted that innovators and entrepreneurs shared a Common DNA – Courage that gave rise to the desire of doing something new, of venturing into the unknown and concluded by saying that, “Courage is not an attitude, it is a skill. It can be acquired. Getting an idea is simple, getting it through in the market is tough but getting it through a herculean company like Godrej is a herculean task. Chotukool is a result of this courage!”

Post the panel discussions; it was time for the Unconference session, which was anchored by Serial entrepreneur Mr. Pravin Shekhar, chief creator of KREA. Unconference - a participant driven meeting without the rigidness of a structured, conventional conference and the format was based on the premise that in any gathering the people in the audience - not just those selected to speak on stage - have interesting thoughts, insights and expertise to share. And it proved its point to the students. The conference ended with the valedictory session where the winners of the Internal Business plan competition ‘Audacia’ were awarded and invited to share their winning plans' overviews with the audience. The winners were awarded the Shri Narasinga Rao Memorial Prizes, totaling INR 2,00,000/- (Two lakhs). This prize was instituted in commemoration of Late Mr. Narasinga Rao (a distinguished alumnus of Great Lakes and the co-founder of the famous SSI Ltd.) by his batch-mates and Dr. Bala V. Balachandran, our founder dean, to be given every year in this annual event celebrating entrepreneurship.

The conference enriched the students’ knowledge about the immense opportunities in entrepreneurship and the advantages of being a ‘disruptive innovator’ and hopefully, also motivated some of them to consider Entrepreneurship as a career and contribute back to the society through their future innovative and sustainable business models.

Student Achievements

Winners - Litmus Case study competition conducted by SIMC

Abhishek Jain, Harleen Wahi

Winners - 'Anti Muda', Inter college Operations Competition conducted by LIBA

Vishal Drolia, Yash Sobti

Runners up - 'The Grail', Business Plan competition conducted by BIM, Trichy

Kishore Kumar R, Sampath Selvan, Joyeeta Mukherjee

Winners  - 'Say What', a marketing competition conducted by IIM Shillong

Arnav Talwar

Article published in Samvad : WE school student magazine, Welingkar college, Mumbai

Arnav Talwar, Inder Deep Singh

Runners up - Ca$e Anova, Rural Marketing Case study competition conducted by IIM Trichy

Gajendra Sisodia, Tanya Seth, Deepika Solanki

Winners - Pinnacle Ad-ah, a Marketing Plan Competition conducted by IIM Trichy

Abhishek Jain, Harleen Wahi, Inder Deep Singh