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Ankur Mathur, Co-Founder of Socrates Foundation

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Born and brought up in Pune, India, Ankur Mathur holds a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pune. Not shy of academic excellence, Mathur is a recipient of the Chevening Scholarship by the UK Government and also currently pursuing a Masters degree at the prestigious, Imperial College Business School, London.

Hard-wired with curiosity and fueled by a passion for entrepreneurship and leadership, Mathur has been involved in starting and leading youth-centric non-profits and college clubs in India. His initial forays into the realms of entrepreneurship have come through efforts to form a collective pan-university environmental society while pursuing his undergraduate studies in 2010. Subsequently, later in 2010, his efforts were recognised as he was awarded the International Climate Championship by British Council in recognition of his work within local communities to raise awareness and limit the impact of climate change in India.

Consequently, later in 2013, driven by a desire to improve the quality of Indian pedagogy, Mathur co-founded a non-profit organization, Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning. Through Socrates Foundation, he envisions to introduce critical thinking, creative problem solving skills and adaptive learning competencies necessary for 21st century, in the Indian school curriculum. Recently, in April 2014, Mathur was appointed as the Global Youth Ambassador by the office of Ms. Sarah & Mr. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and A World at School, UK.

Workshop - Juniorscoop 1

In your own words what is Socrates Foundation?

Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning is a registered non-profit organization whose aim is to prepare the students of today for the skill sets which they will require as young citizens of the 21st century for their personal, professional, social and personal life. It also carries out Professional Development Programs for teachers and school administrators to incorporate the best practices in pedagogy, takes cognizance of the variety of media & sources of information which is available to children today and which lays emphasis on inter disciplinary knowledge.

We endeavor to inculcate the habit of creative and critical thinking in primary & secondary students of India. Catering to the privileged and underprivileged schools alike, we strive to integrate 21st Century skills like Digital, Environment & Media Literacy, Global Citizenship, Service Learning and Social & Emotional Learning into their core curriculum. Aiming to facilitate equitable qualitative & quantitative best practices in pedagogy, we plan to replicate our heuristic modules nationally.

Catering to educators and students alike, we focus on reinforcing the edifice of the 4C’s – Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication. Socrates Foundation has 7 core programs on Environment, Media and Digital Literacy, Social & Emotional Learning, Service Learning, Global Citizenship & Critical Thinking. Each of these 20-hour long modules follows a unique pedagogy to engage students through heuristic projects and our ‘Knowledge to Action’ approach helps inculcate the 4C’s in their routine decision-making. Additionally, five 12-hours intensive workshops planned for educators, aid in fostering Professional Learning Communities and leverage the power of holistic collaborative teaching. Facilitated by NASA educators, Fulbright Fellows and industry experts, our program is distributed over 6-8 months for a group of 40-50 students. The students’ selected include those from varied backgrounds and castes, offering each the opportunity for equitable quality education.

How did you come up with the idea of Socrates Foundation?

I believe that while the Indian educational reforms have successfully provided better access to education, they have exacerbated its quality at the cost of reaching out to large poverty ridden demography. The current system still remains captive to the parochialisms of rote learning, with emphasis on memorizing rather than understanding. Resultantly, “75% of technical graduates and 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India’s high-growth global industries” (Wall Street Journal, India, 2011).

Two events between 2008-2012, motivated me to devote my time and energy in doing my bit to revitalize the archaic methods of teaching, which was prevalent in most of the schools in India.

During 2008-2012, while studying Chemical Engineering in Pune, India, there were two very noticeable and disturbing observations that I made – one was the apparent apathy of my contemporary students to the issues that plagued our society. The second, even more frightening, was that there seemed to be a wide chasm between what knowledge we were acquiring in college and what skills the employers sought in potential hires. Believing that the knowledge gained at college would guarantee one a good career, many students were terribly disappointed when they could not land jobs despite scoring good marks. This led me to dig deeper into the issue, and I came across assertions by the corporate captains lamenting that almost 70% of the graduates were unemployable by industry standards! What struck me was the deep concern that the education administrators and parents had for the tectonic shift that technology was forcing upon the skill requirements in the 21st century and beyond, and how should the education system shift course from a knowledge focussed approach to a skill centric approach. Rapid growth of computerisation was clearly taking away the jobs requiring lower order skills and a premium was being paid not for simple acquisition of knowledge and information, but for using multi disciplinary knowledge to solve problems, with precedence on skills of critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

However, I drew most of my motivation and inspiration from my mother, a career educationist, a Fulbright Fellow and a NASA Educator. My insights into the realms of progressive educational techniques came from my discussions with my mother. We had long discussions about the ground realities of the Indian education system and how we could take steps to help implement the latest in pedagogy so that the demographic dividend that India talks about, could be a reality. This marked the commencement of the conceptualization of the Socrates idea.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Socrates Foundation?

With my mother’s rich and varied experience in education, we proceeded to design a workshop module on ‘Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Students of Grade 8 through Space Science Activities’, which drew the interest of teachers & students alike. This proposal was subsequently submitted to the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, Department of State, USA and was awarded a funding and accreditation to implement it in 7 schools from July 2012 to September 2012. 40 students & 15 teachers attended this 20 hr workshop spread over 10 days and start ‘Space Science Club’ in their own schools. Overwhelmed by the response we received, we felt the urge to do something in a more organized and sustained manner.

Subsequently, we started to crystallise our plans to start Socrates Foundation, a formalized professional organization devoted to introducing 21st century skills in Indian schools. Quite early, we realized that our organization cannot run on emotions alone, and therefore we got down to brass-tacks. There were two aspects why we decided to float ‘Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning’ as a ‘not–for–profit’ organization. The first was purely a strategic reason – with the limited resources that we were starting with, we could remain focused on the programs that we planned to conduct rather than share these resources & energy with running the business as a company. However, the second and more important reason was our view that given the large proportion of schools catering to the students from the underserved section of the society, the ‘for profit’ business model, if adopted by us, would preclude many of them from our programs because of unaffordability.

Firm in our belief that the existing education process needed to be augmented and strengthened, we decided to implement our core activities in close coordination with the schools rather than conducting the workshops as standalone activities for students and teachers outside the existing schooling system.

We started to work on several key areas – developing content, structuring the organization, setting up a panel of domain experts, discussing with school administrators about the need to initiate radical changes, identifying and talking to benefactors who would be interested in pledging their resources for our cause.

Buoyed by the success of the first workshop, we conducted a series of similar workshops for schools in Pune and Faizabad, a small district in Uttar Pradesh, simultaneously submitting documents to the concerned authorities for granting us the ‘NGO’ status. ‘Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning’, an NGO was born in June 2013.

Workshop - Digital Citizenship 3

Did you encounter any particular difficulties setting up the Foundation?

A major obstacle that we faced while setting up the Foundation was the absence of a formal support system that could handhold an organization such as ours during the initial phases and ensure that it is not stillborn. The situation worsens if it is a ‘not – for – profit’ startup, and the promoters do not have adequate financial backing. The difficulties are exacerbated for NGO’s like ours who have intent to work independently in the education sector.  For organizations, which start from scratch, identifying sources of funding and sustaining itself during the initial stages becomes a major part of its activity, and can be a major de-motivating factor that can inhibit its growth or even lead to shutting down its operations.

How have you been developing Socrates Foundation since inception (i.e. what’s the developmental direction)?

It’s been about 2 years since we launched our first workshop, and about 1 year since our Foundation was officially born. While still continuing with our flagship workshop on ‘Critical Thinking’ we have widened our focus to reinforcing the   skill sets of the students in the areas of Environment, Media and Digital Literacy, Social & Emotional Learning, Service Learning and Global Citizenship. Each of these modules follow a unique pedagogy to engage students through heuristic projects and our ‘Knowledge to Action’ approach will help inculcate the 4C’s in their routine decision-making. Additionally, workshops have been planned for educators, which will aid in fostering Professional Learning Communities and leverage the power of holistic collaborative teaching. Each of these programs have been meticulously designed, vetted and will be facilitated by NASA educators, Fulbright Fellows and industry experts.

What kind of feedback did you get for Socrates Foundation so far?

During the past 2 years, Socrates Foundation has conducted about a dozen workshops on Critical Thinking, Digital Citizenship, Media Literacy and Service Learning, benefitting approximately 1500 students and 100 teachers from 20 schools. Though the feedback from all the stakeholders has been positive, the student participants have had the most encouraging reactions to offer. Unequivocally, their first reaction was that in each of the workshops, they got a new and fresh perspective to their regular subjects like math, science, history, geography, biology. They could ‘unlearn’ the fact that one subject was unconnected to another and had to be studied and understood in isolation. So, in the Media Literacy workshop, they could learn about Germany under Hitler and his use of media, while in the Space Science workshop, they got to learn and use tools for collaborative problem solving and decision making. The educators were quite excited to use contemporary technology and tools that they got to work with in the workshops.

How do you see India in the next 20 years?

India certainly has a demographic advantage. Compared to many of the developed countries, India can certainly hope to reap the advantages of almost 140 million children in the age group of 0 – 5 years who will be ready for a career 20 years from now. Young India, with a vibrant political system, an impatient electorate that is showing its muscle time & again and economy zooming at a fast clip, the climate is conducive for India to take the pole position in times to come. However, I feel that we need to shift gears and take a call on whether we should sustain our economy by being the most economical IT & back office service providers to the world. India’s rank on the Innovation Index and University/industry research collaboration Index has fallen between 2013 & 14 (Global Innovation Index 2014 report).  As technology permeates all walks of life, there is going to be a paradigm shift in the way we are teaching in schools & colleges. Innovation, collaboration, communication, critical thinking are the skills that will be increasingly required for a better quality of life.

What can you tell us about the industry? Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Education sector is one of the most important basic infrastructures, which get active support from the state. With rapid globalization and unique demographic advantage, India is in the unique position to provide a young, educated and skilled workforce to the world. It is estimated that the labour force in India is expected to increase by 32% over the next 20 years. This presents not only a huge challenge, but also an opportunity not only to the youth who would be ready to plunge into a career few years from now, but also for NGOs, corporates and other organizations that would be willing to work in this sector.

Planning and development of the education system by the state is driven by the agenda of Education for All (EFA) as per the agreed Dakar Framework of Action (2001) over the last 15 years. While the state is the key stakeholder and invests heavily in school systems upto the primary levels, spending almost 90% of the total cost, the percentage comes down sharply to 70% for middle, high & higher secondary schools, with an enrolment percentage about 40%.

The emphasis of the government has been to ensure that no child is left unlettered, and therefore, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act has become operative with effect from 1st April 2010. The RTE Act provides that all children in the 6-14 age groups have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school.

The ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’ (SSA) is implemented as India’s main program for universalization of elementary education (UEE). Its overall goals include universal access and retention, bridging of gender and social gaps in enrolment levels and enhancement of learning levels of all children. (12th 5 Year Plan, Planning Commission of India).

India has more than 0.25 billion children in the age group of 5 years to14 years. Out of this, the Indian school education system, one of the largest in the world, caters to about 0.2 billion students, representing about 80% of the target population. In the secondary & higher secondary classes, 59.6 million students out of a total population of 71.7 million children in the age bracket of 15 yrs to 17 years are studying.

As a percentage of GDP, in 2005, The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2005 spent 5.6% on education, Korea spent 8% Turkey and Greece spent 3.5%, while India spends on an average, less than 3% of its GDP. (Report of Working Group on Private Participation including PPP in School Education, Oct 2011). By 2008 – 09, the spending by India had increased to 3.5 % of GDP and was slightly above 13% of the total public expenditure (GOI document on Expenditure on Education). The annual government spending is 30 billion USD, and estimated annual private spending on education is 43.2 billion USD, making it one of the largest capitalized spaces in India.

How do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

A number of organizations like Teach for India, Pratham, CRY and Avanti Fellows have sought to provide educational access to low-income groups in India by channelizing the power of the youth providing peer-based learning. Socrates Foundation, however, aims to radically transform the quality of education by re-skilling the educators & students with contemporary competencies comprising of tools to improve the engagement level & skills of students. By integrating methods of adaptive learning, designed on upper levels of Blooms Taxonomy – Synthesis, Analysis and Evaluation – our modus operandi is aligned to better suit the needs of todays ‘Digital Natives’. NASSCOM & McKinsey suggest the actual scope of the problem not being the lack of quantitative, but that of qualitative education. With about 45% of Indian graduates today earning less that $1200 per annum (IDFC Report 2012), SFEL seeks to spearhead a transition from traditional pedagogies to those better suited for the 21st Century.

What is the future of the industry in your opinion?

Education systems world over are devising strategies to prepare knowledge workers for the 21st century, and there is a concerted effort by countries to bring about an overhaul of the teaching & learning processes.

The future of the industry will be guided in major part by the policy directions of the state, however, there is an urgent need not only to invest in infrastructure, but also to bolster the efforts of the government in increasing the literacy rate, reach of the education system to remote areas and to those who still remain untouched by it, and more importantly, to improve the quality of education. Indian government has declared its intention to increase the expenditure on education from the present levels of less than 4% to 6% of GDP. This would mean an additional inflow of about USD 35 billion into the system. During the year 2013-14, 75.9 per cent of the 1,448,712 schools imparting elementary education were managed by the Government. Private aided schools constituted 4.69 per cent of the total number of schools while private-unaided schools constituted 17.4 per cent of the total number of schools imparting elementary education. Public Private Partnership (PPP) is sought to be increased in this sector, and the government has announced various policy initiatives to encourage private enterprises to commit resources.

In 2009, the Government of India launched the National Skill Development Policy (NSDP) with a target for skilling 500 million people by 2020. Some of the future priorities for strengthening the skill development and vocational education system include promoting PPPs, development of an enabling framework that would attract private investment in vocational education and training through Public–Private Partnership (PPP)

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

Entrepreneurial ventures are gaining a lot of traction in India and doing well, which says quite a lot about the drive and the motivation of those who undertake such a path. However, an ecosystem, which nurtures such initiatives, is the need of the hour. The yearly survey of the World Bank about the ease of doing business still places India in the bottom quarter of the list. Startups need all their resources to kick start their business, and would not like them to be squandered away in necessary but low priority paperwork to establish the organization.

It was also disappointing not being able to put together a team of volunteers & support staff that was willing to work on a shoestring budget in the initial phase of growth.

Education sector is increasingly getting commercialized, and its direction is dictated primarily by profit motives. The school administration and the teaching process in most of the cases, strictly follows the regimen of ‘teacher & the taught’, where most of the teachers still believe in the adage ‘I am the sage on the stage’. It was quite disappointing to see how the students in majority of the school systems were being prepared, not to gain knowledge and intelligence, but to gather & retain information without being taught how to relate it to practical situations.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

I have been an entrepreneur only for a couple of years and that too in India. I, therefore, did    not have the occasion to study the entrepreneurship practice in the west. However, since joining Imperial College, London for a post grad course in Innovation, entrepreneurship & management, I have had the good fortune of interacting with some wonderful entrepreneurs from different parts of the world, which is certainly enriching my experience. Though it is too early for me to comment, but my gut feeling is that Asian & western entrepreneurships are different only to the extent that their cultures are different. While the Asian culture is more conservative and has a lower risk taking capacity, the western culture promotes new ventures and encourages individuals to break out on their own. However, I am still waiting to validate my thinking.

What is your definition of success?

Success, to me, is being able to translate a whiff of an idea into something tangible which makes the life of people a bit easier, comfortable and fulfilling.

What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind?

The very nature of an entrepreneurial venture signifies that it is a risky proposition, since there is no precedence in the market place about the success or failure of the offering. It is therefore essential that an entrepreneur’s capacity to face challenges and rejections should be high; he should be ready to innovate and spend his time and energy to ensure that his product creates a new demand.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

The most important key to an entrepreneurial success is having the passion to bring about a change in the status quo, Innovate and create an offering that is way beyond the expectations of the marketplace.

Success also depends upon the entrepreneur’s commitment to the customer, which goes much beyond customer satisfaction or even customer delight. An entrepreneur should be able to identify and keep his focus on his customers’ stated & unstated needs, and be able to take risks and constantly innovate.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there?

Things which an entrepreneur should never be without – a positive attitude, unflinching focus, firm belief in what he is doing and ears to the ground.

Connect

Website: www.socratesfoundation.org

Linkedin (Personal): www.linkedin.com/in/ankurmathur7

Linkedin (Socrates): https://www.linkedin.com/company/socrates-foundation-for-enhanced-learning-india

Facebook (Socrates): https://www.facebook.com/socratesfoundation

Workshop - Digital Citizenship

 

Entrepreneurship

Why Angel Investors are Shaking Up the Global Startup Scene

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Candace Johnson is someone who has made a global impact on our modern international telecom and broadcast business. She co-initiated the foundation of SES-Astra and SES Global, which today owns a fleet of 54 satellites and broadcasts 6500 TV channels. And she founded the world’s first Internet-based online service, Europe Online, making it into one of the first broadband Internet services.

But it was in her role as president of EBAN, the European trade association of several hundred business angels, which brought her to Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus recently. She explains why angel investors are making a difference to the global start-up scene and explodes several myths that surrounds the way they do business. She spoke with StartupDelta’s Jonathan Marks.

Building the match between angel investors and hardware startups

“People often think that angel investors are people who do investments around the corner, locally, or in services like e-commerce. To be frank, when the HTCE management told me that they were focussing on the hardware side of things, I was thrilled.”

“What I’m trying to do as President of EBAN, and having incubated MBAN (MENA Business Angels Network) and ABAN (African Business Angels Network) under my presidency, is to extend the scope of angel investments. The vast majority of angels are already tech savvy. But we need to educate our successful angel investors to invest more in hardware and infrastructure. We also need to help start-ups develop a pitch that speaks to the interests of angels, so they can get funding for their initiative.”

“We run the EBAN Training Institute with the goal of raising standards. We’re seeing more and more that the best angel investors are serial entrepreneurs. They bring their trusted network, expertise and experience to the table.”

“Money is important too, but it is not at the top of the list. Business angel investors are high net worth individuals who usually provide smaller amounts of finance (€25,000 to €500,000) at an earlier stage than many venture capital funds are able to invest. They are increasingly investing alongside seed venture capital funds.”

Angels are more important than most people know

“We follow the guidelines and standards developed by the European Venture Capital Association. For over seven years, during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008 until the recent recovery started, it was the angel investors who took over the role of early stage financing. More than €7.5 billion are being invested annually in Europe, with a sustained growth in recent years. Of that €5.5 billion comes from angels. In fact we have had to professionalize our profession to meet the demand of the growth in this early stage ecosystem.”

We always have an exit strategy

“Angel investors can only continue to invest if they have exits. I hear many people talk about investing. Only a few discuss exits. I want to change that. I also stress that proven entrepreneurial success is essential in order to become a member of our association. We need to ensure that useful “lessons learned” are shared with the start-ups. They are always based on hands-on real-world experience. We have no time for people who are using new blood to try and correct mistakes they made in their own failed companies.”

“EBAN was started in 1999 together with the European commission. For the first ten years, I think people were too focussed on the investing part. Now we need to focus on exits and returns on investment. Without returns, business angels are out of business. And remember there is only a short window of opportunity during which start-ups can scale-up to becoming global success stories”.

“Our feeling is that you should not make an investment in a company unless you can see the path for the exit. The exit may be a trade sale, an IPO, etc. The exit also does not have to be 100 %. It does, however, have to bring you a return on your investment so that you can continue to invest. This approach helps you focus on building great companies. There’s always competition in healthy markets, so no-one can afford to waste time. We’re not a charity; we’re doing this because we love building and financing global success stories. We’re therefore looking for companies with a real marketable product, not a prototype or a collection of well-presented ideas.”

Is there specific advice you can share with high-tech startups?

“In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of the accelerators alongside incubators. They have helped raise standards because a good idea needs to be validated by the market before it is the basis for a high-growth company.”

“As investors, we always need to see a start-up demonstrate that they have first clients and initial revenues. We’re not saying that they have had to scale or show market traction. But if we are going to put in our personal money, then we expect the founder to be resourceful enough to work out the first product, to have found the first clients and show us evidence of the first revenues.”

“The incubators who help get an idea into reality and the accelerators have been good at making startups better prepared for angel investment, offering the right coaching to turn an idea into a validated business. That means angel investors are better able to select the growth companies and focus on making a good return on their investment.”

Hanneke Stegweg

“We recognise that young companies need to present their business proposition to the angels attending our annual conference. So we’ve created ways that teams get immediate, honest feedback on the quality of their business presentation. We have one full day of preparation and coaching followed by a Global Investment Forum. The best go on to pitch to the entire network. This year, the “company to watch” category was won by Hanneke Stegweg, who is the Dutch CEO of the iLost company. Together with Neelie Kroes, I am keen to see more women founders lead entrepreneurial teams.”

What needs to change for things to move faster?

“We held this year’s EBAN congress in Eindhoven at the recommendation of several members. They all work in the innovation and financing of innovation field. But this region also came up in our discussions with StartupDelta. We have worked closely with Neelie Kroes when she was with the European Commission.”

“We were tipped off to the High Tech Campus specifically by our Russian members: the Russian Business Angels and the Skolkovo Foundation who are building the Skolkovo science park just outside Moscow.”

“And last, but not least, I know Eindhoven from my work in telecommunications and broadcasting hardware field. We often came here to work with Philips on the establishment of the DVD and MPEG-4 standards.”

“During our visit to the Brainport area it was clear that there is more than enough money in the region and a healthy appetite to invest in innovation. But there are some caveats that we feel need to be addressed.”

“Frankly, I think we are rather tired of the “nice-to-have” e-commerce companies. We would prefer to reinvest in world-class companies who are building something tangible, solving a real-world challenge. They need to demonstrate they can scale and become global.”

“We can see that the efforts by many have helped to raise the bar in the Netherlands and that’s good news for everyone. But remember there is a difference between entrepreneurs and SME’s. Entrepreneurs are the only ones to change our world. They create large companies, worthwhile employment, and that grows into large revenues.”

Failure is not an option

“We should get rid of this talk of failure being an option. If you’re taking angel money, it is NOT OK to fail.”

“If you take third party money, you have a responsibility as an entrepreneur to do everything you can to make a return on the investment of your business angel. The media keeps talking about friends, family and fools. But that’s nonsense! Founders, families and friends build great companies!”

“I have always been a free marketer at heart. Europe and The Netherlands need to create nations of investors. I believe in the power of private sector-led investment. Government needs to follow the leads set by business angels, not the other way round. We are investing our own money and using our years of experience to scale up these companies. An entrepreneur who is not willing to work and dedicate her or his lives 24/7 to achieve the goal should look elsewhere for money!”

“We’re fortunate that the EBAN network acts as a magnet for excellence. We were honoured to have the President of the European Research Council and the Head of Technology Transfer of the European Space Agency address our Congress to show us where the technology trends are going and where we should invest.”

“From a venture and entrepreneurial financing perspective, we were most grateful to our colleagues from the United States who joined with our European, MENA, and African colleagues to set the bar high in creating, building and financing global success stories. Amongst those joining us in Eindhoven from the United States were the president of the Global Accelerator Network from the USA, the president emeritus of the Angel Capital Association of the USA, the President of Start-Up Angels and Board Member of Up Global from the USA. We also welcomed the President Emeritus of the Crowd funding association of the US as well as the chairman of New York Angels. And we were delighted with the presence of David S. Rose, the president of GUST.com. These are some of the world’s best experts in angel investing.”

“They all said they were pleasantly surprised by the high standard of the startups that came to Eindhoven from all over the world. It was well above what they had expected. Start-ups from Africa, Middle East and Europe traditionally explain what they do, rather than explaining to investors why their idea is important. But that’s changing rapidly for the better. Entrepreneurs are also getting better at defining what they need in order to scale-up.”

NEXT STEPS : It’s all about active networking

“I should explain that in expanding our reach in Europe, with have formed alliances with the European Space Agency and the European Research Council. They also have their own accelerators and incubators. I think the onus is on the angel investor community to help bring this scientific community to a higher level of entrepreneurship. They need to think about the market for their inventions from the beginning. I believe we can help these organisations filter out the very best ideas and give those the attention they need to scale ideas into real businesses. There needs to be a validated market need for the technology they are developing.”

“We have two main events. There is the annual EBAN congress, this year in Eindhoven and next year in Porto, Portugal. And we run the EBAN Winter University, this year running from November 17–19th in Copenhagen. We’re doing this with leading organisations active in Europe’s creative industries. And all this is in addition to individual events and competitions organised by EBAN members at a local, regional and national level.

Increasingly we’re assembling cross-border syndicates, both between European countries and increasingly inter-continental networks linking Europe with innovation hubs in Africa, Middle East and North America. As companies scale and go global, it is important they have access to an international shareholder network. It’s a softer landing when they cross continents.

We also believe there is a way in which we can build partnerships with techno-business parks around the globe, led by the flywheel initiatives shown by High Tech Campus Eindhoven over these very fruitful days in the Netherlands.

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About the Author

This article was written by Jonathan Marks, Executive Director at Photon Delta. See more.

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Entrepreneurship

Myths & Facts about Entrepreneurship

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Today, there is a pervasive and nearly deafening mantra insisting that you quit your job and become an entrepreneur. The collective says you should do it today because every day you wait brings you closer to a life of poverty and regret.

A central theme in the entrepreneurial world is challenging the status quo and questioning conventional wisdom in search of new and better ways of doing things. If you’re just going to follow the pack, you may as well just get a real job and call it a day.

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding. Starting your own business may be the best decision you ever make. But it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and a lot of myths to expose, starting with these.

Let’s take a glance at some of the Myths of entrepreneurship:

1. You’ll be Happier

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding. Starting your own business may be the best decision you ever make. But it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and a lot of myths to expose, starting with these.

2. You’ll have more freedom, control and work-life balance

If you’re on your own, chances are you’re going to find yourself wearing all sorts of hats and working 24×7 for a very long time. Work will become your life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but not everyone feels more freedom and control that way.

3.You’ll be more fulfilled

Do we know what just about everyone loves to do? Great work that accomplishes goals they can be proud of. One can do that working for a big company, a small company, or their own company. Fulfillment has nothing to do with business ownership. If one wants to manage, lead, or run a business, it’s better off learning the ropes in a good company before starting your own.

4.There are no jobs; technology and outsourcing killed them all

It is shockingly untrue. If technology destroyed jobs, then which one will you call the most lucrative and fastest-growing industry on the face of the earth.That’s right: technology. If you can’t find a job, chances are you lack in-demand skills or education, in which case, yes, you might want to consider starting a small business which does not require much of exclusive skill sets in particular.

5.Entrepreneurs Live a Glamorous Lifestyle

That’s again untrue. Most entrepreneurs do not live a glamorous lifestyle; if they do, their investors should cringe. Entrepreneurs are notoriously frugal, hard working and opportunity-obsessed with little time for outside activities. These qualities are not hallmarks of the glamorous life.

Now,Let’s look at some of the facts of entrepreneurship.

  1. Most successful entrepreneurs succeed by exceptional execution of ordinary ideas: See Jiffy Lube, Starbucks and Charles Schwab.
  2. Most successful entrepreneurs concentrate on minimizing risk rather than taking huge risk at the time of starting their companies.
  3. Successful entrepreneurs use their innovative passion in many ways, such as buying companies, creating new ventures within larger companies and re-strategising nonprofits.
  4. More than 80 percent of new ventures are boot-strapped from personal savings, credit cards, second mortgages and the like. The median start-up capital is about $10,000. Waste Management began with a single truck; Sam Walton started with $5,000. So, in short access capital is not required to startup.
  5. Being first to execute well and delight customers is not at all important for success. A lot of startups have entered quite late in a particular startup industry and have done well.

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About the Author

This article was written by Utkarsh Sharma.

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