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Manipal Entrepreneurship Summit ’23—Major Events

Keynote Session                                                                                                                                                                                  Samyuktha | Staff Writer   

Abhinav Arora, the CMO of Avalon Scenes, hosted the Keynote session. He provided insights on leveraging SAAS(Software as a Service) tools for building and nurturing communities. It was an entrepreneurial workshop where he explained terms like TAM(Total Addressable Market) and SAM(Serviceable Available Market). He showed everyone how to use this knowledge to determine the potential of a startup and allocate resources accordingly.

The event’s key takeaways were the importance of market analysis and how it allows one to uncover market opportunities, know what customers think of their products, and improve communication and messaging platforms with customers and segmentation.

Youth Panel Discussion                                                                                                                                                                          Aditya Karigar | Staff Writer   

Formi is a one-of-a-kind social platform that enables people to have great experiences personalised to their tastes. Their SaaS platform is built with your everyday operational needs in mind. Event organisers can arrange, manage and deliver the best events using their cutting-edge tech and wide-ranging capabilities. Using their intuitive dashboard, you can easily do everything from finding targeted affiliates, boosting ticket sales, maintaining a database of attendees and tracking affiliate performance.

BugBase is an Indian platform that enables companies to set up bug bounty programs that can be reached out to by ethical hackers and cybersecurity enthusiasts from all over the country. Bug bounty programs are a way to crowdsource identifying potential website threats, thus safeguarding the web for future users. The company provides a clean and straightforward user experience to engage more cybersecurity fanatics. Despite being a giant in the tech world, several Indian companies, private and government-run, are still not secure and frequently experience security breaches. BugBase also allows organisations to host Capture The Flag (CTFs) events for cybersecurity novices to practice, learn and grow into professionals. 

The event began with the guests introducing themselves and sharing their journey from college to founding their company. We were lucky to have co-founder Sitaraman S and Rishabh Gupta at the event. Dhruva Goyal, an enthusiastic hacker, spoke of how he and a friend formed their group in Manipal and worked on several other projects. Both agreed that leadership qualities, decision-making skills, time management and keeping up morale are essential qualities every founder needs. They shared their experiences on their journey up the ladder to success. Both shared one sentiment: ‘Don’t let the success get to your head’. It was a great panel, with a good mix of advice and amusing anecdotes.

Senior Panel Discussion                                                                                                                                                                          Samyuktha | Staff Writer  

While the youth panel allowed the audience to communicate with a relatable group of like-minded people, this discussion provides insight into what a young entrepreneur can expect in the long term and take advice from people who have followed the same path they wish.

This panel consisted of experienced entrepreneurs ready to discuss their experiences. Mr Anuj Bhatra, a co-founder at Andromeida, spoke about the importance of conducting in-depth research in one’s respective field. Mr Deepak Pareek, a co-founder at Iceberg Creations, focused on content creation, an area he is passionate about. Mrs Smitha Rao, a co-founder at Uthunga, brought forth her experience when scaling her business from three to over eight hundred employees while keeping their needs in mind. Mr Leenesh Singh, a co-founder at 1000 Startups India, believes that having the correct mindset is non-negotiable in order to succeed. Our final panellist was Mr Manish Dsouza, a partner at Eagle Wings Venture.

This panel provided the students with several role models to look up to and learn from in their ventures. It was a successful discussion involving the amalgamation and sharing of knowledge.

Pitch Tank                                                                                                                                                                                                          Samyuktha | Staff Writer  

Pitch Tank acted as a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs where we saw MAHE’s top eleven startups pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and investors and was superbly organised. The panel of judges consisted of five dynamic people; Jayshree Leenesh (Angel Investor), Leenesh Singh(Co-Founder of 10000 Startups India), Anuj Batra(Co-Founder at Andromeida), Manish Dsouza (Partner at Eaglewings Venture) and Khushbu Mehta (Junior Associate at Letsventure).

Pitch Tank showcased a diverse range of startups and their innovations. The event was an excellent opportunity for budding startups to advertise their product to potential investors and make connections. Around two hundred people attended, with the selected presenting their ideas to the panel.

Caze Maze                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sanskriti | Staff Writer  

Providing a platform for showcasing people’s problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities is not new. In recent years several game shows have started a critical-thinking game. Organised on the platform “Unstop”, this event allows engineering college students and business administration to solve complex problems.

Due to the impressive turnout, with over a hundred teams registered for the event, there were two rounds organised in the event. Both rounds included the preparation of a presentation. The first round consisted of preparing four slides on some of the startups regarding issues faced in any domain of operation, marketing, finance, operations, or a combination of the above. This was an eliminative round. 

The shortlisting was based on the proposition’s viability, creativity, and value. The second round was the event’s final round, and the participants had to prepare a presentation of eight slides. The winners of this event were Team Orange, Team Ocean, and Team Hustlers.

Moneyball                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sanskriti | Staff Writer  

Moneyball was an event organised for MIT students inclined toward pitching. The event aimed to improve and test the participants’ debating and pitching skills. The participants learned a lot about pitching after watching others present. 

The event had three rounds, the ideation of which was done beforehand. The first round was a quiz round, and the participants were given ten minutes to answer twenty startup-related questions. The second round was a pitching round, where the teams were allotted products or services to pitch for seven minutes, followed by cross-questioning by the participants and the judges. The third and final round required teams to pitch and debate why their brand was better than their competitors, followed by a debate round. The key highlights of the event were the teams’ dedication, which could be seen just by looking at the presentations they made. The teams debating were energetic and did not miss any opportunity to cross-question the other teams to win.

In conclusion, Moneyball effectively enhanced the debating and pitching skills of the students of MIT. The teams’ dedication and energy during the debate rounds made the event a success.

Fallout                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saranga | Staff Writer  

Fallout, a panel discussion event, encouraged budding entrepreneurs and students to showcase their skills. The event featured a competitive market where participants had to convince a judge, who also acted as a consumer, to adopt their product. This helped improve their sales skills and their ability to research various topics, work in teams, and tackle challenges that big companies face.

The event began with participants presenting their position papers on a given topic which was relevant to their company. The judges evaluated the presentations based on how well they knew their portfolio and how they presented themselves. In the second round, the qualified teams were given a curveball where they had to present an offer to the judges based on a situation given to them. The host explained the rules to the contestants, and the judges created a healthy competitive environment among the committee. Team Honda, Team Tata, and Team MG were declared winners out of the forty participants. The event went smoothly, with participants showcasing their entrepreneurship skills in a competitive environment. The impact of the panel discussion on stakeholders was highlighted, and it is expected that future events will be even more successful.

Money Quest                                                                                                                                                                                                  Saranga | Staff Writer  

Money Quest was a one-of-a-kind event that encouraged strategic thinking, teamwork, time management, and resource management, exclusively targeting MIT’s first years.  Participants were provided with a file before the start of each round that contained clues, prices and rents of properties, and a map. A treasure hunt was conducted for twenty minutes, after which all the teams reassembled at the starting point and placed bids on the properties that they found as clues. This went on for three rounds, and in the end, the team with the highest asset value was declared the winner. When the auction for the first clue, which turned out to be Om Xerox, started, there was incredible suspense as to who could crack the difficulty of this clue.

The teams known as Daredevils, LAXMI CHITFUND and Kasukabe Defence Force were ultimately declared winners. The event was successful, with participants showcasing their skills in this competitive environment.

Innovation Mela                                                                                                                                                                                      Samyuktha| Staff Writer  

The flagship event was lined up on the final day of MES, The Innovation Mela. The event aimed to foster collaboration and a more inclusive startup ecosystem that contributes to innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. The event had a great turnout, with over three thousand people showing up and over ninety startups. Various interests were accommodated, with the entrepreneurs covering many industries, such as technology, healthcare, education, and e-commerce.

Image Credits: The Photography Club Manipal




Manipal Entrepreneurship Summit ’23 Pre-MES Events

PR Campaign Launch
Sanskriti Srivastava | Staff Writer

Manipal Entrepreneurship Summit is an annual event organised by the Entrepreneurship Cell of Manipal Institute of Technology as its flagship event. It encourages students, entrepreneurs, speakers, and others to come together and foster innovation. The theme of MES’23 was “Let your innovations be heard”. A set of individual events had been organised to help people introduce their creations to everyone. With the help of MIT’s drama club: Ada, the theme reveal was a great success.

An open mic also took place where students came to present their talents in the form of stand-up, instrumental music and singing. The flagship event featured almost 150 innovations by our students and a series of speakers to enlighten us regarding various topics. The major events include a Panel Discussion, a Keynote Session, Pitch Tank, Online and Offline Workshops and Bootcamps.

Design Thinking: Vikas Gupta
KSV | Staff Writer   

Have you ever wondered what goes into design and converting a thought into a successful idea? Do you want to learn more about design thinking but need help figuring out where to begin? MES’s Design Thinking workshop answered all these questions. In the words of an E-Cell executive, “The main aim behind conducting the workshop is about how to come up with an innovative idea, which is critical for startups in the future”.

Vikas Gupta, the main speaker, is a Manipal alumnus who graduated from the Manipal School of Architecture and Planning with a Bachelor of Architecture and then went to IIT Delhi to study Industrial and Product Design. Following his thorough explanation of design thinking, we moved on to an exciting experiment. He gave us a product and asked us to create something entirely new that performed the same goal inventively. We had 15 minutes to ponder over a toothbrush, a pen, and paper. Several suggestions were made by the participants, such as making it more multifunctional, sustainable, or more straightforward.

Furthermore, he introduced us to a technique for finding innovative ideas: SCAMPER, an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put, Eliminate, and Reverse. The speaker’s experience as a successful founder of two startups brought so much value to the workshop, and everyone agreed the session was engaging.

Vikas Gupta conducting the design thinking workshop.

Entrepreneurial Modelling: Sudhinder Parvatikar, ‘Founder of Kloud Aim IT’ and ‘IoT Consulting’
Shatakshi | Staff Writer   

The Entrepreneurial Modelling workshop was conducted by Mr Sudhinder Parvatikar, the founder of “Kloud Aim IT and IoT Consulting”. The workshop aimed to enable entrepreneurs, startup managers and leaders to strengthen their understanding of their customers, business models, and corporate strategies. The target audience was college students who were passionate about innovation. The turnout was exemplary.

The event commenced with the speaker explaining how important entrepreneurial modelling is in a startup. He conducted an in-depth conversation about the topic through a prepared presentation. A Q&A session followed, where he answered the audience’s questions. E-Cell MIT handled all the work related to this workshop, including graphics, publicity, and event logistics. The audience reacted favourably to this enlightening workshop.

Entrepreneurship Journey: Arvind Shashikumar, Co-Founder and CTO of Quinn
Ajitha Shree | Staff Writer   

The exclusive workshop on entrepreneurship journey, organised jointly by E-Cell and ISTE highlighted topics such as the challenges faced by budding entrepreneurs with ideas and the journey from being a full-time employee to becoming a self-employed person among others.

Mr. Arvind Sasikumar, co-founder and CTO of Quinn, started by talking about the importance of making good decisions in the initial period of one’s entrepreneurship journey, such as collaborating with an equally enthusiastic business partner, targeting the perfect audience and adopting a trial-and-error method to improve your business. “Solving a problem is way more important than building a solution to the problem”, said Mr Sasikumar emphasising the need to prioritise fixing the problem over finding an ideal solution. Time is far more important than money for every startup; a slow investment rate can hamper the company’s growth.

There are several leadership qualities an entrepreneur requires. Some of them are analysing data without bias, marketing strategy, ability to filter out genuine feedback, tackling sudden changes, handling rejection from investors and improving your idea daily. Adopting good networking skills in your college days is critical. This talk by one of our successful alums gave us great insight into the entrepreneurship journey of an engineering student and an abundance of motivation to try and realise our inner potential.

Amplifying Innovation for Growth: Lokesh Venkataswamy, CEO and MD of Innomantra and Dr. Tojin T. Eapen, Advisor of Innomantra
Deepali | Staff Writer   

Lokesh Venkataswamy, CEO and MD, and Dr. Tojin T. Eapen, advisor, Innomantra, heralded the Amplifying Innovation for Growth workshop as part of MES 2023. Their goal was to promote systematic innovation through effective project management, quality control, sustainability initiatives, bio-inspired system design and resilience strategies. A leading innovation consultancy, Innomantra develops various strategies to help companies achieve their innovation goals. One of the critical strategies they employ is project management. They work closely with clients to identify project goals and objectives, set timelines, and allocate resources to ensure project success.

They help clients minimise risk in innovation and maximise return on investment by providing effective project management. Another critical strategy is quality control. Innovation projects often involve developing new products and services that must meet the highest standards of excellence.

Our speakers focused on the need for innovation management to improve efficiency in institutions as well as the need to balance out sustainability. They mentioned some efficiency strategies in the form of the 5 R’s: Resting, Reduction, Redefining, Regularization and Resource management.

By leveraging the principles of circular economy and sustainable development, Innomantra enables customers to create value while minimising their environmental footprint. Inspired by nature, they help customers arrive to solutions optimised for their environment. For example, by studying cheetah behaviour, Innomantra helped customers develop an efficient supply chain that reduced costs and increased productivity. They also use ERP models to optimise innovation projects.

Through their project management and sustainable development expertise, Innomantra helps clients become effective, efficient, sustainable, and innovative, and stay ahead of the competition.

EdTech Entrepreneurship: Vinod Aravindakshan, Founder of Careerbolt
Ayn Shahabal | Staff Writer   

This event was a workshop on entrepreneurship and cracking interviews, organized by E-Cell in collaboration with ISTE.  The workshop featured an esteemed speaker, Mr. Vinod Aravindakshan, who is a seasoned entrepreneur and the founder of Careerbolt, a tech startup making waves in the world of campus and professional recruitments.

During the event, Mr. Aravindakshan shared his experiences of working in Silicon Valley and the importance of continuous learning. He highlighted the fact that there is no easy way to learn skills and that one must be a hardcore learner to succeed in their careers. He also talked about his team’s efforts in building Careerbolt as a startup and creating a conducive environment for everyone to work, thrive and grow.

The event aimed to help attendees gain valuable insights into cracking interviews and discovering how technology can be leveraged to create a positive change in the world of entrepreneurship. The attendees were encouraged to put the information and insights gained from the workshop to good use in the future.

Overall, the workshop was a success, and attendees gained valuable insight into entrepreneurship and the interview process. The event provided an excellent opportunity for networking and learning from experienced professionals. The organizers deserve credit for putting together a well-structured and informative workshop, and it is hoped that similar events will be organized in the future to benefit more individuals.

Mr. Aravindakshan sharing his tips on entrepreneurship and how to crack interviews.

Startups—Building a Niche: Jyoti Bharadwaj, Founder of TeaFit.
Shreeya | Staff Writer   

On February 21st, Jyoti Bharadwaj, founder of TeaFit, held a workshop on startups and the importance of building a niche. TeaFit, a consumer-oriented brand, appeared on Shark Tank in 2021 to pitch its business model. After landing a deal of 50 lakhs, the beverage startup has grown considerably. Jyoti’s drive is inspired by India’s alarming diabetes rates and lack of healthy unsweetened beverages. She also aims to appeal to consumers’ interest in health and wellness post Covid.

The entrepreneur advised that any brand needs to decide on a timeline. In a timeline based on an exit, the focus would likely shift from prioritising the customers to customer acquisition. TeaFit aims to grow sustainably at a pace suitable for the brand. They also seek to branch out the distribution of homemade unsweetened beverages nationwide. Jyoti emphasised on the importance of people skills, especially during the lows. In such cases, people skills help motivate the employees who work for the brand and persevere through tough times.

Similarly, she also elaborated on the life of an entrepreneur and how the lifestyle is often less glamorous than it is portrayed in popular media. A Q&A session with the audience followed the workshop. As a closing note, Jyoti suggested that as an entrepreneur, one must be the jack of all trades, but a brand must be the master of one- and that is its niche.

Jyoti Bhardwaj explaining the importance of building a niche.

Product Management Bootcamp: Akshay Johri, Riya Jain, Shobhit Saxena
Shivani Seshadri Iyer | Staff Writer   

Think of product management as an essential step in developing a product from scratch, manufacturing it to go with the tide but making it distinctive enough so that the final product can sell itself. It is done through trial and error. Product managers aren’t born, nor do they need an illustrative drawing capacity. They need to metamorphose, understand human psychology, have room to create ideas and understand what the customer wants.

A panel of three esteemed product managers, Ms Riya Jain, Mr Shobhit Saxena, and Mr Akshay Johri shared insight into the field of product management. They started by briefly introducing themselves and how they got into the world of product management, each encounter being a unique experience.

The panellists linked product management to being the boss of a toy store, making important decisions on the toys to sell, working with toy makers to design and create new toys, and ensuring that they are safe, fun, and sound on shelves. The panellists emphasized on the fact that one must fall in love with the product statement rather than the idea. Knowing what your competitors are up to and staying ahead of the curve is a quintessential part of product management, as well as making errors and failing. They explained the process of data interpretation, which helps product managers gather insight from data to solve a business case. In addition to this, they emphasized on the importance of customer reviews because one needs to understand that it takes months to find a customer but seconds to lose one.

This bootcamp provided an insight into what the corporate culture is like, and how to work on ground-breaking ideas while staying ahead of the curve. The three panellists came to a consensus that product management is an upcoming field that requires zeal to deal with customers, know the competition and design products.




A Delight For Otakus—MAC’s Shonen Fest

MIT’s Manga and Anime Club held their highly anticipated Shonen Fest over a span of three days, from 11th March to 13th March, with several workshops and competitions. The Anime Meme Making Competition was held well before the fest on 4th March and received hilarious and creative submissions from anime lovers all around MIT. On 11th March, Day-1 of the fest was held, which successfully kicked off with the Origami Workshop and Pokemon Unite Battle.

[Credits: MAC Manipal]

Day 1

Origami Workshop

The workshop commenced with a short introduction to origami. This fun craft allows one to transform a simple piece of paper into many intricate designs, from paper cranes to flowers. This workshop featured two unique origami pieces as well an additional three Cat’s Cradle designs.

The club’s talented Aarya Menon led the workshop, showcasing her self-taught origami skills. She walked the attendees through the process of making a cherry blossom and a kunai, which is a standard gardening tool in Japan. Cat’s Cradle, a fun game played with wool or string, allows the player to create various patterns with a few skilful hand movements. The Witch’s Broom, a Hammock, and the Eiffel Tower were the three designs that the workshop included.

Pokemon Unite Battle

In the spirit of online events, a Pokemon Unite Battle was the perfect choice for this fest. Being a strategic team game and featuring the ever-popular Pokemon franchise, this event drew in a crowd. In teams of 4, the participants took part in various battles. One victorious team emerged, putting up a fierce fight till the end. A prize of 400 Rupees was awarded to the winning team.

Day 2

Cosplay Workshop

The Cosplay Workshop, hosted by Patricia Mathew, was a 2-hour long event dedicated solely to the cause of helping people understand the intricacies and functioning of the cosplay artform. Starting with explaining the working of cosplays and the community that various enthusiasts have formed, she went on to explain a few of her own works and invited questions from the participants. The event went on to gain speed as the host received more questions from the participants, who were keen to find out about the working of cosplays on a personal level as well as within the cosplay community.

Patricia Mathew during the Cosplay Workshop. [Credits: MAC Manipal]

Drawbattle

Drawbattle was an event hosted by the organisers of the Shonen Fest. It was a tournament of Pictionary wherein teammates would have to indicate an Anime or Manga to their teammates via drawings only. The event steamed up as the matches were drawn close, and each and every player was working with an undying spirit. At last, the tournament came to an end with a very close finale match. “Waiting for my prize and the next Shonen Fest!”, exclaimed the captain of the winning team.

Players during a game of Drawbattle. [Credits: MAC Manipal]

Day 3

Anime Sharing

The kick-starter for the offline event at the very least was a colloquy for anime lovers and those who are oblivious to the deeply-rooted anime palette alike. The event genuinely abided by the philosophy that you can never have enough when it comes to watching anime. Participants could submit their data storing devices at the booth and tell the foreperson their niche interests, favourite genres, shows watched in the past etc. and receive a handpicked curated list of shows customised to their likings.

The catalogue was exhaustive and had everything ranging from eye-grabbing popular titles to woefully underappreciated cinema. There was no limit placed on the number of shows/movies that you could possibly ask for.

Art & Merch Studio

Art and Merch Studio is an event promoting The Manga and Anime club’s very own inner Arthouse and its stupendously talented artisans. Visitors got to transverse through a collection of artworks made by the club’s Arts and Graphics team members. If anything happens to capture your interest, you can pay a very reasonable amount and take it home in varying paper quality. Needless to say, the event, in particular, was a hit amongst anime fanatics who walked into the mecca of top-quality anime merch for shows such as Psycho-Pass, Death Note, Assassination Classroom, Naruto, Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, and many more.

Artworks presented by the artists of the Manga and Anime Club. [Credits: MAC Manipal]

Anime Movie Screening

The day’s final show and the entire festival were capped off by a screening of two cult classics at the MV Seminar Hall. The first film, Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, was screened from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, followed by Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which was shown from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Both films triumphantly struck a chord with the audiences in very different ways. The zeal, adrenaline, laughter, and, at times, numbness were palpable and could be felt running through the theatre hall.

Featured Image Credits: MAC Manipal




Beneath the Mask of Sanity

 “Murderers do not come out in the dark with long teeth and saliva dripping off their chin. We want to say we can identify these dangerous people … you can’t identify them. People don’t realize that there are potential killers among them.” – Ted Bundy.

Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in known history, is a testament to his own words. Behind his façade of a well-educated, confident young man with a promising future lay one of the most cold-blooded killers known to this day. Killers come in all forms: men or women, strangers or friends. Even age isn’t a boundary; the youngest known serial killer to date was only eight years old when he committed his first murder. So, the question is, how can we tell? The simple truth is we can’t.

Ted Bundy at perfect ease before his trial. [Source: Cosmopolitan]

Nevertheless, it can get quite challenging to accept the unknown for what it is. The prevalence of such grotesque crimes may have significantly decreased in recent times, but the fascination with serial killers remains. While an interest in the macabre may seem unwarranted, it is exactly what has us delve into the dark. Understanding a killer’s motivation helps sate fear of the unknown: it fosters a feeling of security. Serial killers neither commit crimes of passion nor crimes of opportunity. They plan their murders and carry them out with cold precision. This inhuman intention to harm makes them so much more terrifying.

Through the Ages

Dozens of killers can be found interwoven throughout history. The most elusive is undoubtedly the ruthless murderer known by the alias, ‘Jack the Ripper’. His exploits: a series of killings carried out in the East End of Victorian London. While around a dozen murders are attributed to him, only five are known to be his victims. It soon became evident that the Ripper had predilections in both his victims and the modus operandi. All five killings involved women in their early to mid-forties (except for Mary John Kelly, who came to her untimely end at 25), and all were suspected prostitutes, found in varying states of mutilation. Wounds were accompanied by the removal of several organs, hinting at surgical experience. The Ripper’s identity remains unknown to this day. 

The Ripper’s favourite haunt: The streets of Whitechapel [Source: Penguin Books]

Ted Bundy was the epitome of a charming young gentleman. Born as an illegitimate child, Ted was raised as the adopted child of his grandparents. He was a bright boy, doing well in school. However, he showed a disturbing fascination with knives at a young age. He went on to study psychology and suffered a devastating breakup during his time at the University of Washington. Many later victims shared his college girlfriend’s long, dark hair. Bundy too followed a pattern with his killings. His victims were often raped before being beaten to death and were all women. Although he confessed to 36 murders, it is believed that the actual number may lie closer to 100. Using his good looks and charming manner to his advantage, he regularly lured his victims into his car under the pretense of being injured. Unfortunately, his unquenchable thirst for murder caused him to lead the police right to him. Even with his infamous charm, Bundy was unable to talk his way out of a death sentence, he was executed in 1989.

Veering away from classic Caucasian serial killers, Charles Shobraj was a French killer of Vietnamese and Indian origin. Unlike most, his killing spree spans over several countries. India, Malaysia, France, Germany, and Switzerland were all subjected to his sadistic whims. Sobhraj, shockingly, managed to gain a cult-like following, their loyalty to him causing them to turn a blind eye to his crimes. His cunning and skill at deception earned him the title ‘The Serpent’. He committed his first known murders in 1975 with the help of his second in command, Ajay Chowdhury, and his girlfriend, Marie Le Clerc. His methods of killing included drowning, burning, and strangulation, all designed to be dismissed as accidental deaths during police investigations. He was caught in July 1976 and sent to jail in New Delhi, with a 12-year prison sentence. Sobhraj was living a comfortable life in prison. Having smuggled precious gems into the jail and bribed his captors, he was afforded several luxuries such as a television and gourmet food. The infamous killer evaded execution once more in 1986. His sentence was approaching its end, condemning him to almost certain death if extradited to Thailand. He escaped prison, having drugged the guards with sleeping pills, and was caught only a month later in Goa. The authorities played right into his plan, extending his sentence by ten years. Released in 1997, with little to no evidence of his earlier crimes remaining, he walked as a free man. Sobhraj tripped up eventually: his overconfidence damned him to a double life sentence in a Nepalese prison in 2003. His charm, however, didn’t take a hit, and he married his interpreter Nihita Biswas in 2010 while in prison. She described his eyes and gaze as mesmerising and even gave him blood in 2017 for open-heart surgery. Now a 77-year-old man, he is imprisoned to this day, though it remains to be seen if his renowned cunning will allow him to walk free once more or if Charles’ Serpent’ Sobhraj has taken his final bow.

The Bikini Killer, Charles Sobhraj, led away in cuffs after a failed murder attempt. [Source: India Today]

Myths: Fact or Fiction

With a steady increase in true crime connoisseurs, many movies are based on various serial killers and their crimes. However, in the spirit of captivating the audience, many characteristics are twisted out of proportion to create a more thrilling plot. Killers are commonly portrayed as evil geniuses who are isolated from society. Several other stereotypes have come into play, giving off a false impression.

Myth 1: All serial killers are reclusive and antisocial 

Most movies depict their killer as socially inept. But in real life, they blend in with society just as well as everyone else. They can often be friendly, non-threatening members of the community. Many have been known to have loving families. Ted Bundy was married twice and even had a child. Serial killers’ ability to hide in plain sight is what makes them so frightening and fascinating at the same time.

Myth 2: All Serial Killers are Caucasian 

While only white male serial killers have come to light as cultural icons, serial killers span all racial and ethnic groups. Anthony Edward Sowell, an African-American man known as ‘the Cleveland Strangler’, was responsible for 12 murders in Ohio. Another example is Rory Conde, a Colombian native who carried out six homicides in Florida.

Myth 3: All Serial Killers are male

Although the most notorious killers are all male, female serial killers have proven to be just as deadly. The majority of all homicides committed by women in America are serial killings. Aptly named ‘The Black Widow’, Judy Buenoano poisoned her husband in 1971 and drowned their son nine years later. She also attempted to murder her boyfriend in 1983 and was executed by an electric chair in 1998. Aileen Wuornos killed seven men, shooting them at point-blank range.  

Actor Charlize Theron (left) playing Aileen Wuornos (right) in the movie ‘Monster.’ [Source: Pinterest]

Myth 4: All Serial Killers have an extremely high IQ

Serial Killers are often shown to be incredibly intelligent. A premise that is used to explain how they can escape the law frequently. Yet most serial killers show an IQ that aligns with the general population. A serial killer’s success does not lie in their intelligence but their obsession and cold-bloodedness.

The psyche of a killer

When faced with the atrocities that killers commit, it’s inevitable to wonder why they feel the need to take lives. Based on motivation alone, serial killers are classed under four rudimentary categories. 

  1. Mission-oriented killers target specific groups in retaliation for what they see as a violation of particular values. 
  2. Visionary killers claim to hear voices encouraging them to kill.
  3. Power-control killers derive sexual pleasure from the power they exert over their victim
  4. Hedonistic killers kill for personal gain, gratification, or thrill.

However, a killer’s motivations are never clear-cut, and it is believed that the urge to kill is born out of a mix of various psychological factors. Fictional portrayals of killers often pin the blame on dissociative identity disorder (DID). The belief that two individuals can co-exist in a killer can explain how someone who displays socially acceptable behaviour can also commit cold-blooded murder. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is a classic example of this. However, very little evidence points to this being found in serial killers in real life. DID has been found to manifest in victims, who use it as a coping mechanism. 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [Source: Bibliotheca Alexandrina]

Born Or Made?

J.M Macdonald suggested a link between specific childhood behaviour and an inclination towards violence as an adult. His theory is also called ‘The Macdonald Triad’. The three characteristics he picked out are animal cruelty, fire setting, and bedwetting. He connects the first to a child’s need to vent their anger on something over which they have power. This may be due to a need to feel in control, which is lost when abused by an adult in their life. Similarly, fire setting may be a mechanism to satisfy feelings of aggression. He believes that bedwetting may worsen the child’s feelings of humiliation and anxiety. While his theory has not been conclusively proven, it does match what many killers have confessed regarding their childhoods.

Familiar Faces

Killers also tend to look for specific characteristics in their victims, usually from past negative experiences, a la Ted Bundy. This ties into how negative experiences as a child or even later in life can trigger psychopathic behaviour. However, convenience also plays a factor. Vulnerable victims who are easy to access are preferred, as they are more susceptible to an attack. Due to this, victims are frequently young females of the same race as the perpetrator. Moreover, although in homicides, the victim is usually known to the killer, serial murders are twice as likely to involve a stranger. 

A Neurological Dichotomy 

Many killers showcase signs of psychopathy or sociopathy. Their characteristics also match people with antisocial personality disorder, which is suspected of having genetic roots. The condition causes an inability to distinguish between right and wrong and a lack of regard for others. However, few serial killers are classed as mentally insane. They are primarily found to be entirely conscious of their actions, and most of them display a lack of empathy and remorse even after being caught. Criminal psychopaths tend to showcase two disturbing neurological anomalies. Their lack of empathy seems to be caused by a decreased connectivity between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex of the brain. This can prevent the translation of negative stimuli, in the amygdala, to negative emotion. Thus, they feel little to no regret. However, serial killers also tend to have an enhanced emotional drive that causes an inexplicable urge to hurt and kill other humans. These contradicting phenomena are yet to be explained on a neurological level. 

But despite all this, sometimes there is no real explanation for or motivation behind a killer’s actions. It’s a lot easier to stomach their crimes as having occurred for a reason as opposed to the harsh truth: sometimes, people kill for no reason. To them, it’s just another thrill. We watch movies and scoff at how easily the killer can be identified, but the signs aren’t as blatant in real life. Killers rarely stand out in a crowd. Usually, they’re the people no one pays attention to—the people who would never cross anyone’s mind as being capable of cold-blooded murder. The truth is, anyone can be a murderer. So, the next time you’re walking in a crowded street and catch the eye of a stranger across the road, stop and wonder whether you just locked gazes with a killer. And hope that if you did, they didn’t look into your eyes and see their next victim.

[Featured Image Credit: Pinterest]