Although TBC’s recently inaugurated Business Incubation Center is in its nascent stage, the programme is a haven for innovative ideators.
Continuous innovations in information technology (IT) have been changing the daily lives of the people in this era of digitisation. In order for entrepreneurship to flourish in such a dynamic world, budding startups need to keep abreast of such innovations besides honing their business skills and ideas. Entrepreneurship today is not just about doing business but also sustaining it. Therefore, to incubate aspiring entrepreneurs for tomorrow, The British College (TBC) is preparing to embed IT skills and products beside mentorship, training, different supports and facilities in its incubation programme.
The college started its incubation programme, known as the TBC Business Incubation Center (TBC BIC), recently in 2019. Though the programme was initially limited to MBA students, TBC now is preparing to offer this platform to students of other streams.
TBC emphasises on the combination of innovation, business and IT in the programme to convert students’ ideas into feasible businesses in a more innovative way.
As the college offers IT courses including MSc IT and BSc Computing beside management courses, it embeds IT in the programme. Moreover, IT students are also allowed to develop IT products from business ideas. The centre combines both business ideas and IT to incubate students on the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the programme.
“We find that the majority of youths are seeking jobs in the market after graduation. Instead of seeking jobs, they have the option to start their business using today’s technologies. So, we started the incubation programme to help those potential students with technology,” shares Arun Lal Joshi, Associate Dean at TBC.
Incubation in Nascent Stage
In the beginning, the college provided the platform to pitch ideas to its MBA students only. TBC BIC mentored its students studying MBA in entrepreneurship module. “While studying MBA during the third semester, we linked the entrepreneurship module with the incubation programme. We had to submit a business proposal in that module,” shares Rajat Shrestha, winning team member of the Business Idea Competition held by the centre.
“We are just beginning the incubation programme. Therefore, we have run the programme at a micro level only. We will be grooming it up in the coming days,” clarifies Joshi. He further shares that the centre is looking forward to allowing the platform to anyone regardless of any discipline even beyond the college, as there will be limited ideas to pitch if the programme is limited to management students only. The centre encourages participation from students from different faculties, especially students studying management and information technology (IT).
IoT Lab for Incubation
TBC envisions a better innovative outcome from the synergetic effort of students from management and IT background. So, to create entrepreneurship with the combined idea of IT and management, the college is launching the Internet of Things (IoT) lab from this January, according to Joshi. He says that the basic focus of the lab is to bring five projects every year. The lab allows Management and IT students to work together for three months. Based on the business concept, incubatees will pitch their ideas with products related to disaster alert/risk management, road accident management, industry, etc. “Management students will come up with business concepts and develop a business model while IT students will materialise those business concepts and models in the IoT lab. So from the next session of the competition, students will be able to show even tangible business products while pitching their entrepreneurial ideas,” says Joshi.
He says that both management and IT students will work together to develop their business products. Around 30 students can work in the lab to develop the products by merging business ideas and IT. Joshi believes such visible products would help the ideators to convince their potential customers about their business.
The students at the lab will learn the importance and utility of IoT that connects different physical things besides communication devices to the internet and controls them through a wireless network. Students will go through an intensive theory class, practical sessions and product development. The lab allows them to have access to new and exciting developments in the area of digitisation.
Idea Pitching Programme
The college organised its first edition of the idea pitching competition as “Startup Series I” in November 2019. Joshi remembers that altogether seven teams of four members from the management stream participated in the one-day pitching programme, out of which the top three teams pitching the best ideas were selected as winners of cash prizes. He says that all the teams had pitched ideas with a business proposal, business structure, model, management etc. in front of different judges.
Joshi says that the students had pitched ideas like customising gifts and interior designing in the last competition. The students also carried out a survey before pitching the ideas to test whether their ideas would work or not. Joshi says that the students are taught about preparing business proposals, business models, strategies to sustain, conducting case studies etc., before participating in the event.
Since many professors of the college themselves are engaged in different corporate institutions, they mentor the students in the incubation programme at TBC. Guest lecturers from different business houses also guide the students. “Only those who are involved in business themselves can mentor the students in the incubation programme. We have professors who have experience of running incubation centres in India and USA. We took advice from them regarding the incubation centre.” The students are taught about creating an effective business plan, marketing strategies, financial projection, risk management, the inclusion of sustainability and inclusive management in business model in the session.
Collaboration for Seed Investment
According to Joshi, TBC BIC is ready to support potential entrepreneurs with a small amount of seed money to start their business. However, the college realised that the amount would not be sufficient to establish a business. Because of this, the college is tying up with different investors for investment. Joshi explains, “We have a link with top-level management companies and international organisations too. We are tying up with them. With this tie-up, they can be the business partners or shareholders too, while supporting ideators with investment.” He further says that the interested companies will be providing seed investment for the top three business ideas from the next edition.
Plans for the Programme
TBC believes that through the incubation centre, students gain hands-on experience in innovation and entrepreneurship while being nurtured and encouraged by faculty, management and industry experts. Therefore, the college plans to run the programme in a structured way from its second edition with the necessary guidance, technical support, marketing support, legal advisories and space to work. It is planning to provide space with cubicles to establish offices for at least the top five teams in the college. “Though we had already planned to set cubicles from the first session, we could not do so because of lack of space,” said Joshi. The college also provides space for the incubatees to work with their ideas until they establish their own office. It also provides seed funds to aspiring students to establish a company.
In order to participate in the programme, interested students with an entrepreneurial idea from any faculty should submit their idea proposal. The ideas will be shortlisted based on different parameters set by the centre. Then, the selected ideas will be incubated.