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The Entrepreneurship Summit: Manipal’s very own Shark Tank

Aayushi Agarwal | Staff Writer

The corporate world is a brutal place where only the toughest get to be at the very top. This bitter truth rang through the Library Auditorium on 27th October, when several esteemed entrepreneurs gave productive insights on how the world of business operates. The Manipal Entrepreneurship Summit was an event organized by MUTBI—the Student Entrepreneurship Cell and Alumni Relations wing of Manipal University. Sixteen entrepreneurs from different fields, including Manipal University alumni, were invited to share their start-up experiences.

The event began with Dr Shrihari Upadhyaya, the CEO of MUTBI, giving the opening remarks, followed by an address by Dr Narayan Sabhahit, the Registrar of Manipal University. After the host Mr T Chendil Kumar introduced the gathering to the concept of entrepreneurship, the first panel-discussion discussing ‘Start-Up Essentials’ commenced. The panellists highlighted the importance of understanding the market environment and stressed upon the importance of team-work, passion, and risk-taking in the long run. The panel discussion was concluded by the chief-guest, Mr Kedar Medhi, Director of the Philips Innovation Campus, Bangalore.

Image courtesy: The Photography Club, Manipal

The hosts were quick to address the real issue, as the second-panel discussion on ‘Funding’ began. The panellists encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to learn economic and financial concepts to comprehend the working of a business better. Mr Kumar summed up a few noteworthy points, such as maintaining a good alumni network, being perseverant and having a good prototype before you approach others for funding.

‘Marketing and Scalability’ was the next topic deliberated upon and the discussion was filled with anecdotes to get more customers. Most of the panellists spoke of an immense drive that kept them going even in the face of failure. They also reiterated the importance of knowing the product very well and having faith in it. While speaking about his own experiences, Mr. Gaurav Agarwal, the CEO and Director at Innvolution Imaging said, “Get better, before you get bigger.”

Image courtesy: The Photography Club, Manipal

The final panel discussion was an interactive session talking about ‘the dilemma of sell or retain’.  Mr Mohak Dhingra, a co-founder of Jobspire and an MIT alumnus, moderated this panel discussion. Having been through a successful acquisition recently, he said, “You must never be too emotional about your own ideas.” The panel discussions ended with an outpouring of college spirit as the alumni noted that MIT students stand out in conferences for their confidence. They also remarked on the diverse range of experiences that MIT provides, both in the engineering sphere and otherwise.

Dr. G.K. Prabhu, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Manipal University and the Director of MIT, concluded the Summit with an insightful speech. With a vision in mind, he spoke about the new changes in curriculum that shall be ushered in for the following years. Achievements of various student projects such as SolarMobil, Formula Manipal, and the Mars Rover were also highlighted in the speech. Moreover, he talked about the various incentives given to budding entrepreneurs at MIT, like the new Idea Café. The Entrepreneurship Summit was a step forward in this direction as potential entrepreneurs could learn from people who have gone through the same struggles that they now face.

Image courtesy: The Photography Club, Manipal

MUTBI’s Entrepreneurship Summit helped a lot of students clarify their queries regarding start-ups. The only downside was that the first two panel-discussions took up more than their allotted time, which left very little time for the remaining two. Despite the time constraint, it was also very inspiring to see that so many students from MIT plan to become job-creators. In the words of Dr G. K. Prabhu, “IITians may be bright, but MITians are smart!

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