Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mentors Murthy, Nilekani, Premji To Help IISc Students become entrepreneurs

Learning from mentors who change the way you live and think is the chance of a lifetime. Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan did it in the past. Azim Premji, N R Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and C Ramadorai are doing it now. If you couldn’t spend time with greats of the past, how about taking lessons from legends of the present?

The IISc Alumni Association has come up with a cracker of an idea — it is setting up a ‘mentoring system’ in which great entrepreneurs (initially) will act as mentors or thinkers to students and research scholars, who wish to launch small firms or startups, or turn their research into technology and eventually take the entrepreneurial route in life.

The mentors will be from across the globe, including Bangalore, and will keep in touch with students identified and selected for mentoring.

The man behind the idea, Association president Dr K R Srinivasan, told TOI that “already a few top people” had agreed to be mentors. “They include people not associated with IISc but who can, and are, willing to make a contribution to IISc. They are people in the league of Narayana Murthy...”

Net connect

Srinivasan said a website will connect the mentor and student/ scholar in the first phase of interaction. “The website will have the mentor’s profile and expertise and the student’s request. A software will bring together the request and expertise to see if they match. If they do, then the mentor and student will get into live interaction. So interests of both have to match.”

The mentors will act as thinkers and shape the form and direction of a project that the student hopes to turn into a product or start-up company. “The mentors will take time out and be in personal touch with the student or mentee. They will make concrete suggestions, offer advice, show routes that could be taken. The system will be open to IISc and IIT students, initially. If it turns out positive and productive, it will be extended to engineering colleges too. We wish to leverage the strengths of alumni as well as non-alumni, who are genuinely interested in turning ideas into products of some sort,” Srinivasan said.

Infosys, Wipro and TCS are not just companies but stories of extraordinary entrepreneurship and creativity in an atmosphere of red tape, bureauracy, large-scale public lethargy and corruption. Some of the great space labs, like the ones at Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Mumbai and Sriharikota, were creative battles against dormant mindsets. IISc Alumni Association hopes to replicate some of these stories.

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