How do you bootstrap a culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in your college?
- Start an Innovation and Entrepreneurship development activity. Find a few mentors from the industry. Involve your nearest TiE/NASSCOM/NEN/CII chapters. Have each mentor adopt a few projects. They can teach students how to generate ideas, build demonstrable prototypes, find initial users and validate ideas. Pick simple ideas that benefit people or industry. Encourage projects with an element of social innovation.
- Adopt The Lean Startup method. The concept of a lean startup is to build early prototypes and validate product/service ideas. There is a great free course on Udacity on building The Lean Startup.
- Create a set of student startups (have a goal of doing 10-20 startups in every batch). Associate a faculty member and an industry expert with each group. Create a plan for brainstorming ideas, building prototypes to test the feasibility.
- Develop student skills on user centric design, communicating with potential customers, validating ideas. They can start in the Second Year of college.
- Give course credit to innovation and entrepreneurship activity. Kerala government is doing this, and it is a great idea to adopt it in your institution.
- Focus on finding at least 5-10 customers/users for each startup, in the first year of entrepreneurship. Every following year, try to raise that number by a factor of 10.
- Allow for failures. Don’t discourage them. Make students blog about their experiments, what worked and what did not. This will be useful for students. Have open sessions to discuss these experiments.
By creating a practical program for student entrepreneurship and getting faculty involved, you will change the culture of your institution. You are sending a message that practice is as important as theory.
This is part of an article I wrote for ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu.