It is said that one out of every five college students now has a startup idea that has the potential to solve problems on a global level and influence many people.

But the journey of an idea to product require proper planning, guidance and effective execution.

Meet Gaurang Shetty , who runs an incubation centre at KJ Somaiya College (Mumbai).

Team TEN recently got in touch with Gaurang for an interview, so let’s dig deep into this young influencer’s mind who aims to convert an Engineering college into Silicon Valley.
Gaurang’s credentials :

( Gaurang is the Founder/ CEO at riidl, Facebook Developers Circle : Mumbai Head, initiator of National level maker movement Maker Mela, and also a prominent youth influencer )

(Team TEN in conversation with Mr.Gaurang Shetty)

Some excerpts from the interview:

  • You have pursued electronics engineering, founded riidl, initiated Maker mela and currently you are Facebook Developer Circles’ Mumbai head. So how has this entire journey been?

Well, it has been pretty adventurous. There was deep-learning throughout the journey. In 2010 when I was studying electronics engineering in KJ Somaiya, I saw that there were around 600 projects being made by the college students. But I felt that none of these projects were implemented on a larger scale.

I wanted to do something where in these students could get a way to reach the market.

So with the motivation and support of Somaiya Vidyavihar’s President Shri. Samir Somaiya, I understood that empowering these projects is definitely the need of the hour. Finally in 2012, I was clear about what I wanted to do.

I decided that I would guide and fund startups, projects and miniprojects so that they can grow.

 

  • So what motivated you to keep on chasing this dream of guiding and helping out small startups? 

Well, initially my parents were like “Beta, yeh tu kya kar raha hai? Why aren’t you going for a good job?” They didn’t know what domain I was entering into. But I somewhere knew that I want to help the community grow. Some students were capable enough to carry their projects forward on their own, while some needed guidance.

I decided to help atleast those 1% students. And when big projects actually happened, TOI covered me. I was motivated to work even further in this direction.

 

  • Okay, so one question, do you think India lacks innovation compared to the foreign countries? If yes, then why?

Yes, I feel students here don’t get a chance to innovate. Very few institutions in India have an ecosystem like Stanford, where students can work all day and night to innovate something.

Name some institutions where the faculty is available after 7pm. Well, hardly a few. But I think with the help of the Government, now the things will change.

 

  • These days youngsters are very ambitious and believe in multi-tasking. What do you think should be the approach for handling multiple tasks at a time? 

Laser sharp focus, these three words are very important. I feel that if you know what you want to do and have a clear eye for that, things can be balanced. Apart from this, one should be wise enough.

‘Knowing that tomato is a fruit, is knowledge. But not putting it with fruit salad is wisdom.’

Wisdom is something you really need to make choices.

 

  • Well, you have been an entrepreneur yourself, while you have also been a mentor for a lot of people. So what role is more interesting? What do you like to do more?

My goal is to provide solution to the community. For whatever problem this society is facing, I would love to be a part of the solution. So the solution can be in any form, either through entrepreneurship or through mentorship. So, that really doesn’t matter as long as I am able to cater to the community.

(Gaurang with Mr. Raghuram Rajan, ex Governor : RBI)

 

  • Talking of entrepreneurship, what do you think an entrepreneur should have apart from business skills? 

Dedication and hustle to do anything.

You cannot call yourself an entrepreneur if you don’t have the hustle.

You simply can’t develop a product and put it on the app store without doing the market research or knowing what’s the fund requirement.

You need to know what’s the right time to launch your product in the market. You also need to know what your customers really need, and accordingly proceed towards it.

A lot of ground work has to be done. Many startups are missing on these things.

 

  • What’s the end goal of riidl? What do you want to achieve ultimately through this incubation centre? 

Consider Somaiya campus as of now, if you look at the graph from 2010 to 2017, you  will see that a lot of new work opportunities have been created for the students. There are over 40 startups in our campus by now, and over 200 students are working and earning through them compared to 0 startups back in 2010.

So basically, creating employment opportunities is one of Riidl’s ultimate goals. We have many angel investors coming to our campus and 100+ mentors guiding the students. Creating and maintaining an ecosystem like this is something we look for.

 

  • Okay. So that’s where you see Riidl. Now talking about you, what is your ultimate goal? 

I want to become an enabler. I want to be someone whom you can approach to get your issues solved. I would connect you to the 3rd party and resolve your problems. And you and me together, we can work for bringing a change in the country.

I want to create ‘riidl models’ in all the institutions across the country and provide opportunities to everyone just like what we have done here.

 

  • Since the last two years, Maker Mela is being held in our campus on a National level? What new aspects will we be able to see in the next Maker Mela?

Well, till now, you must have seen lot of technical Makers presenting their product at the fair.

However, in the next edition, we are going to broaden the scope by having Makers from biotechnology, food, agriculture, healthcare and life’sciences. Besides, creative artists like sand artists, pencil handicraft artists, origami artists, they too would be encouraged.

We will be the first ones to bring people from all sectors under one roof. Once these talents get a platform, funding through stakeholders won’t be a problem for them.

(Maker Mela covered in TOI)

 

  • If given a chance, what would be the one thing you would like to change about the education system in India?

Currently, the access to internet is quite rare in small villages and districts. One thing I would want the Government to focus on is to provide these villages with internet facilities.

Today, everything is available online. You can gain infinite knowledge through the internet. Khan Academy videos, TED talks etc can be shown to the village students so that even they can explore their talents and expand their horizon.

 

  • You have earned many honours and achievements! So, which is the one achievement you are proud of, till date? 

Well, when the idea of Automated Chess struck us back in 2013, I was completely amazed. And today, when that product has been completely developed, and has got so many pre-orders, it makes me happy. Automated chess team  (Now Squareoff) has also been successful in raising over 4 lakh dollars. Squareoff was the brainchild of ‘Project based learning‘ process.

Through this method, the students can learn and explore stuff by making some creative projects. This was started in 2013 and now again we are encouraging such a system.

 

  • Last question, how do you think entrepreneurs should keep growing? Any particular advice on what they should keep in mind?

I feel all entrepreneurs should ‘Try fast, fail fast’. Only when you fail, you understand what went wrong and you can try a new approach  once again.

You need to try and work out all your plans very quickly, so that you have time to analyse and start again in case you have gone wrong somewhere. Consider the changing demands in the market, and the ball will be in your court.

You can connect with Gaurang via :

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gaurang.shetty

Riidl: www.riidl.org

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gaurang-shetty-84778936

Interview by : Priyanka Gandhi and Kairav Shah

Priyanka Gandhi

Co-founder at Ten-connecting youth.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published