After a successful run in London, Rio and Tel Aviv, the first Google Launchpad event in India is being hosted between Feb 2nd and 6th at the Idiom office/DREAM Center, Bangalore.
What is Google Launchpad?
Google Launchpad is a five-day mentorship program for early stage startups and will be focused on mentorship areas that include Product strategy, UX/UI, Technology, Go-to-Market/Marketing and more.
Each day in Google Launchpad is dedicated to a specific subject and includes presentations, one-on-one mentorship, and a lot of focused work. The idea is to achieve rapid progress in a very short time using a lot of resources and mentors experience.
The first edition of Launchpad was originally launched in Israel, and it was so successful that Google has had about 14 of these events there since then, with each batch having 15-20 startups.
For the Bangalore event, there are about 20 mentors, half who are Googlers from California and Israel, including Amir Shevat, Google’s startup outreach program manager.
Around 20 startups are a part of the mentorship program. Some of the startups are:
· CoSight – Helps make sales executives more efficient
· Findulum/Smart Pocket – Manages all your loyalty cards on the phone
· AdWyze – Provides interactive direct response solutions
· Wazzat Labs – Delivers efficient image processing, computer vision and graphics solutions on mobile platforms
· BabyChakra – Helps parents discover and decide on local services for their children
· BlueHat (Englishdost) – BlueHat are a mobile education company targeting the B2C English learning market
· Frilp – Helps find shops and services used and recommended by your friends, colleagues and other like-minded people
· CashKumar – Allows you to get the best rate on foreign exchange
· RightDoctor – Helps find the right doctor for your ailment
· Expin.me – A story builder application
Idiom is the venue partner for this exciting event. The Google Launchpad event is taking place at the Dream Center, which is an encouraging space at Idiom, often used to think and work with entrepreneurs; exchange learnings, create big game changing ideas and take them from mind to market, with skill, speed and imagination.
The Dream Center has been designed to capture a spirit of organized chaos. Started years ago, there was a realization that folks, especially business folks, enjoyed chaos. Some of the most breakthrough ideas were created around a long table with basic sandwiches, loads of nimbu paani and coffee, open doors with people rushing about…a feeling that can be best compared to ideating at a traffic junction.
The Dream Center is a space that allows you to ask ‘what if’ or ‘why not’ questions…under a rain tree. A colorful, joyous space that morphs from a space and screen to gain inspiration from, in HD quality, to a space where the ideas flow free and fast. A space to learn, to co-create, to compete – to think, feel and most importantly, do!
In a recent article for Entrepreneur.com, Steve Vanderveen wrote an interesting piece on how college students can continue on their entrepreneurship journey even after they graduate from college. The article titled “3 Ways to Keep College Entrepreneurs’ Dreams Alive, Even After Graduation” has a lot of relevance to Indian college students as well. From across the country young people with big dreams start working on ideas and prototypes in college, but give it up in search of a good job. There are several reasons for this, be it the social expectations, stability of employment or even the risks involved in becoming a start-up.
As Steve points on in his article, the jump from college to becoming a full time entrepreneur is a big one. It means leaving behind a structured environment and diving into a world of uncertainty and innumerable risks. But there is hope on the other end. Our journey across several colleges in India has made us realise that while “getting a job” is still the biggest expectation that students have from college, there are those who are taking chances. However, taking these chances is not an easy task. Budding entrepreneurs need to find ways to continue working on their dream and keep the passion alive. According to Steve, there are 3 ways that young people can continue dreaming about their start up. 1) Connecting to mentors 2) Minimizing risks and bootstarpping and 3) keeping the dream alive. You can read more about these points in the article below.
3 Ways to Keep College Entrepreneurs’ Dreams Alive, Even After Graduation- Steve Vanderveen
Steve VanderVeen is a professor of management and director of the Center for Faithful Leadership at Hope College in Holland, Mich.Our nation’s college students are today’s dreamers. Why? Because they can. Schools — especially residential colleges — are safe zones. That’s a good thing. In such protected, nurturing environments, students discover their passion and develop their gifts. This is true for entrepreneurial students as well: colleges now offer them opportunities to explore and validate their ideas. In addition to traditional learning, students can now experience how innovation becomes a business. This “road less traveled” takes many unexpected twists and turns. Initial ideas fail. Product concepts and prototypes designed for one market begin to take hold in another. Personal income is deferred. Failure is inevitable. But there’s one thing that can end the dream: the wake-up call of graduation. When students graduate, the nurturing environment disappears and economic and social pressures, as well as fear of failure, pull them away from their ideas. How do we help them keep the dream alive? 1. Connect with mentors. One of the best things we can do to help entrepreneurs keep the dream alive is to help them network and cultivate mentors long before graduation approaches. Colleges and universities can do this well by bringing those not-so-recent alums, recent alums and current students who are pursuing the dream together with younger entrepreneurial students. Entrepreneurship is a lonely calling. Experiential entrepreneurial education is valuable. But encouragement and wisdom from role models, especially near peers, is priceless. 2. Minimize risks and bootstrap. Entrepreneurs, especially younger ones, cannot afford to wildly spend time and money on things they shouldn’t be. They can reduce the cost of the resources they need by being resourceful and by constantly minimizing their risks. The former we call “bootstrapping” and the latter we call “starting lean.” The essence of being resourceful is finding people who share the entrepreneur’s vision and passion. The essence of starting lean is conducting experiments to validate customer demand, the business model, technical feasibility and scalability. I find Ash Maurya’s Running Lean one of the best investments entrepreneurs can make because the book outlines a methodology for building a business before running out of resources. 3. Stay focused on the dream. Parents, peers and significant others tend to encourage financial security. Thus, as graduation approaches, many entrepreneurial students wake up from the dream and seek a more predictable way of life than what entrepreneurship offers. But they shouldn’t quit. There are resources out there to help new entrepreneurs bootstrap their startups. An important lesson to learn is that ideas are a “dime a dozen.” In contrast, ideas of value are those that have been validated by the market. The best validation is a customer order. Short of customer orders, there is customer interest in prototypes, “landing pages,” “minimum viable product” concepts, and the like. The point is this: cash is available via business incubators and competitions given a validated idea. Here’s the rub: students have more time and flexibility to take advantage of those opportunities than do graduates trying to build a career. Entrepreneurial graduates can get a job with Company XYZ, but they can also plan ahead to keep the dream alive while in college by sharing it with the next cohort of entrepreneurial students. A portion of something is better than all of nothing. Society tells entrepreneurial students to “get a job.” But society also needs dreamers who create businesses rather than work for them. Graduation doesn’t have to be a fork in the road.
Kavita Parmar is the founder of the IOWEYOU Project which produces unique, handmade apparel out of fabrics handwoven in India. Through this project buyers are able to trace the entire production process right from the weavers who weave the fabric.
This project is especially great because it brings back the focus to the people who make fabrics and helps consumers make conscious decisions about what they buy and how they use it.
Since its conception, the IOU Project has won a series of awards and been recognized globally. It has won the 2012 Luxury Briefing Award for Innovation of the Year in London, 2012 SOURCE Awards by Ethical Fashion Forum, Sustainable Luxury Award Latin America and many more. The project was chosen to be a part of the 2013 Unreasonable at Sea program. Kavita has also spoken at various events including TED Talks.
Kavita was kind enough to take some time out and answer a few questions for us.
Q1. Kavita can you tell us a little bit about yourself and about the IOU Project?
I am a self taught fashion designer and entrepreneur having had the fortune to work from a very young age in three continents with a wide range of people in our industry from major corporations to small artisanal makers. This project grew out of my frustration as a designer with the current fashion system that had turned into a RACE TO THE BOTTOM , to make things faster and cheaper. It did not protect excellent craftsmanship or artisanship nor did it make better quality. The idea to nurture BIG DESIGN- not just making things beautiful on the surface but truly designing the eco system around their production to make it sustainable not only for the planet but for the people involved, was at the heart of our search.
Fabric woven in India
So, in 2010 we started working on the idea as a small experiment to create a collection that was made keeping in mind the needs of the artisans, us the designers and of course the consumer. How could we be sustainable and at the same time create a unique product that would give the client something really well crafted. Give them an engaging human experience which helps decommoditize product.
Q2. Can you take us through the journey from when the weavers work to the finished product?
The first project was to create a collection working with the Madras weavers. There is billions of dollars worth of Madras checks sold on the planet, most of these fabrics comes from China or Bangladesh, a cheap machine made copy of the Traditional Madras patterns. Brands can even call their shirts Madras without them having really been made with Madras cotton.
So, to revindicate their authentic provenance we decided to work with the real Madras weavers who produce hundreds of thousands of meters of this fabric on their hand looms even today. We worked with some of the oldest cooperatives in the area, filmed and interviewed each and every one of the 243 selected Master weavers and added them to our platform.
We buy the traditional hand loom Madras fabrics from them and then take the fabric to Europe to heritage artisanal producers who with their expertise, turn this humble piece of fabric into beautiful contemporary pieces, shirts, jackets, pants etc.
Finished products featured on the website
The idea was to use the best craftsman to give a high quality product to the consumer directly online on our website www.iouproject.com at a reasonable competitive price point.
We have built a traceability tool ONLINE with a corresponding system off line to ensure that each artisan leaves their identity code along the process and the final piece carries the UNIQUE IOU Code which unlocks the human story behind that particular piece. In fact as a customer you can upload your picture to complete that prosperity chain so that the artisans can see who bought their work.
The idea was to humanize products. Once you see who your particular artisan is and the craft behind the process, we believe your relationship with the product changes. it becomes more emotional and less disposable.
Weaving done in India
Meet the Weaver! The Final Product
Q3. What have been the biggest surprises with this project?
Our focus when we built the platform was to connect the consumer with the artisan but it was gratifying to see the PRIDE that the artisan felt in his own work once he was allowed authorship to it. Once they saw that their face was next to the product and that the customer could get in touch with them , the quality of the product immediately became shared responsibility, they wanted to make the best product possible. We have had a couple of cases where customers have actually travelled to visit their artisan in India. Here is a Blog post by one such customer from the UK.
This human connection and this sense of empowerment on both sides has been a hugely gratifying surprise. Knowing the people behind the product or putting a face to the final customer makes people on both sides act responsibly in how they consume and how they produce.
Q4. From your experience what impact has your project been able to create?
Awareness of the human beings behind the products we consume was our main focus in this first experiment and I believe we have definitely achieved that. The IOU Project has been written about in more than 500,000 blogs world wide, we have received numerous awards and a lot of industry recognition which clearly indicates that this is an idea whose time is here.
We believe that when business is carried out with true transparency and authenticity it can elicit extraordinary reactions and foster a shared sense of responsibility from its customers, partners and suppliers towards each other and the environment.
Q5. Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Creating a new business is not an easy road and no amount of planning will take away the challenges and hardships you are bound to face along the journey. So my one advice is to do something that you truly love. That will give you the grit and passion to persevere. Also, the problems that we face as humanity today are not trivial and there are no easy solutions so being brave, taking individual responsibility and building businesses that take a shot at solving these problems is essential.
Q6. What is your dream for yourself and for the iouproject?
We have just started on this very exciting journey, the dream is to add many artisan communities and excellent makers from all over to the platform and hopefully create a working Wikipedia of artisan communities and great craftsman around the globe to help preserve these rich traditions. Of course personally to get a chance to make real change happen and to be able to tell my children a good story about this incredible journey is good enough reward.
To find out more about the IOU Project log on to http://iouproject.com/
Watch a video that introduces their work and vision :
Last week, DREAM:IN launched a small exercise to commemorate the 65th Republic Day of India. We decided to focus on the dreams, wishes and visions that people have for India. To do this, we reached out to our network of Dreamers, mentors, online community and specifically schools in Bangalore and Tumkur.
#dreamforindia took form as an online + on ground exercise to collect and share the Dreams that the next generation of India has for our nation. To tap into the minds of the next generation we visited the following schools:
DELHI PUBLIC SCHOOL (EAST, SOUTH AND NORTH), BANGALORE
EKYA SCHOOL, BANGALORE
OAKRIDGE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL,
BGS PUBLIC SCHOOL KENGERI,
RESURRECTION SCHOOL, BANGALORE
JAIN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
SIDDAGANGA HIGH SCHOOL, TUMKUR
BAPUJI HIGH SCHOOL, TUMKUR
SIDDAGANGA MUTT SCHOOL, TUMKUR
EMPRESS HIGH SCHOOL, TUMKUR
JP HIGH SCHOOL, TUMKUR
Sharing Dreams with Dreamcatchers
At each of these schools, the students shared their #dreamforindia with a lot of enthusiasm. We found the students to be extremely positive and engaged with regard to the future of India. They had dreams to see equality in society, better education, promotion of sports, eradication of corruption and many more. They were very candid and our DreamCatchers from NICC had a great time interacting with them.
Along with this on-ground exercise, we also received a lot of traction in the online space. Some of our mentors shared their #dreamforindia on Facebook and Twitter.
All of the collected dreams were consolidated by our team and we made a short video about #dreamforindia . You can see the video here: http://www.dreamin.in/dreamforindia.php#gsc.tab=0
With these curated dreams, we hope that today’s leaders and decision makers will have the chance to see what the next generation of India is really Dreaming about for India.
We invite you to continue sharing your #dreamforindia on twitter : @DREAMIN_Team or @The_Dream_Tree and on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/dreaminteam
We’re happy to announce that the DREAM:IN Portal has won the Designomics award in the category – website/portal/application for the year 2013! The award was presented at an event in Mumbai in late October, 2013.
Thank you for your support in making the DREAM:IN Portal a Dream come true!
Designomics is an initiative that endorses the value of strategic integration of Design in Business.
Design is no longer the domain of visual aesthetics and cosmetic beautification. Its potential to influence lives and shape the way businesses create value, is rapidly gaining recognition. Business houses are speedily embracing Design as a strategic tool, not just to empower their brands and engage their audiences but also to guide the driving philosophies at the core of the organisation. And in the rapidly globalising Indian economy, businesses are realising the importance of holistic Design intervention to deliver ROI. The merging of the Design principles and economic disciplines is what we call Designomics
You can read more about the awards here http://designomics.in/awards-2013.aspx
We are currently working on phase 2 of the Imagination Network. Until then, we invite all of you to use the website and share your feedback with us!
Log on to the DREAM:IN Imagination Network and share your Dreams with us!
From the 27th – 30th of May, leaders from Lafarge were in Bangalore for a strategic learning program, organized by WDHB, in order to be exposed to fresh perspectives and different thinking models & work practices to succeed in a shift from a product based company to solutions–centric strategies. On the 27th of May, the group, visited DREAM:IN, to understand the concept and methodology behind DREAM:IN and also interact with members of the DREAM:IN team.
Lafarge is the world leader in construction materials, recognized as #1 in cement, #2 in aggregates, and #3 in concrete. Lafarge entered the Indian market in 1999, through its cement business. The company has established its presence in all its three businesses- cement, aggregates and concrete. Driven by a customer focused approach, Lafarge offers the construction industry and the general public innovative solutions bringing greater safety, comfort and quality to their everyday surroundings.
WDHB (Warm Decent Human Beings) designs and delivers intensive learning experiences for the strategy and people development of world class companies. Based in San Francisco with offices in Zurich, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro, WDHB has grown into the recognized world leader in experience-based learning and strategic innovation programs to challenge business beliefs and explore new opportunities for sustainable success.
This very dense and immersive program is triggered by Lafarge’s strategic reorganization from a products-based management structure to a country-based leadership model, and its re-focusing on services and solutions innovation. The purpose of this program is to create a shared awareness of business models, operational best practices and organizational mindsets needed to achieve this important shift in a sustainable and successful fashion.
Having interacted with DREAM:IN in the past, representatives from WDHB thought that an interaction between the DREAM:IN Team and participants from Lafarge would make for a good conversation and knowledge sharing experience
The main themes that were incorporated throughout the WDHB – Lafarge expedition were:
Mindsets & Practices of Service-based Organizations
Customer Centric Service Design
Platforms & Tools for Service Leadership
Best Practices for Organizational Transformation
The priority was to shift the mindsets of the participants so that they will be able to make this product-service change successfully. They showed interest to discuss and explore DREAM:IN’s practices around ideation and prototyping.
The participants from Lafarge were –
Samir Cairae, Senior Vice President – Group Industrial Performance
Tarek Elba, CEO – Bangaladesh
Andrei Immoreev, CEO – Vietnam
Marcel Cobuz, Senior Vice President – Group Innovation
Hussein Mansi, CEO – Kenya & Uganda
Isidoro Miranda, Executive Vice President & CEO – Spain & Ecuador
Antony Ricolfi, CEO – Indonesia
Bruno Roux, CEO – Poland
As the Lafarge Team entered the DREAM:IN Centre, each of them were handed a file (with information on DREAM:IN) and a card to write down their impression of India, so far, in just one word. Each card would then have to be stuck on a map of India that was hand drawn on a white board. After this ice breaker the Lafarge team, the DREAM:IN Team, WDHB and a few DREAM:IN Next Gen Entrepreneurs (Aruj Garg – Bhukkad, Kamal Raj – Reap Benefit and Charles Ma) sat down together to informally chat and introduce each other over lunch.
Soon after lunch, Sonia Manchanda (co – founder, Idiom Design and Consulting and Co – founder, DREAM:IN) welcomed the guests and told the audience about the origin of DREAM:IN. The first film to be shown was I am India (watch here – http://vimeo.com/39704459 ). Sonia then told everyone about the journey that DREAM:IN has been on, from being a globally recognized project in 2011 to an award winning organisation today. One particular project (DREAM:IN Next Gen) was a point of interest for all as it involves transforming today’s youth from being job consumers to becoming job creators. A couple of other short films were shown and some Dreams from DREAM:IN Next Gen (Especially the Dreams of Aruj Garg and Charles Ma) were also played.
Sonia was then joined by Girish Raj (co – founder, Idiom Design and Consulting and senior member of the DREAM:IN Team) who collectively explained the vision behind DREAM:IN – as a solution to working towards shifting/tilting the pyramid (referring to C K Prahlad’s ‘the bottom of the pyramid concept’) and giving everyone an equal opportunity to Dream, Believe and Realise. They also spoke about the future path for DREAM:IN.
Post this, there was an interactive session where the audience asked a lot of questions and gave their feedback. Some of the highlights of the discussion were – ‘How did you come up with DREAM:IN and the DreamCatching methodology with the concept of a spotter, framer and reader?’
‘Is/Can DREAM:IN work with a larger corporation, if so, How?’
‘Is anyone using this for the external ecosystem, How so?’
The session was exciting for all that were present, with interesting dialogues and topics being discussed, also the possibility of working with each other at some point in the future.
The session ended with a senior member from the Lafarge group handing over tokens (mementos) of their appreciation to Sonia, Girish and Kush Medhora (co – founder and CEO, DREAM:IN) and a promise to connect soon.