HostelFund, a Startup Fund for students, keeps its doors open for every aspiring entrepreneur who wishes to make it big with unconventional ideas. It also provides mentoring to students and has successfully done so for hundreds of students’ startups till date. Being an unconventional idea itself, HostelFund is doing a great job in promoting entrepreneurship as a concrete consideration as a career path for young leaders.
Here is an exclusive interview in association with E-Cell of IMT Ghaziabad, Ankur Jian throws light upon his own personal experiences and advice for emerging entrepreneurs. Here is how it goes:
Q1. How did you come up with the idea of HostelFund?
Back when I was in engineering college, I had a startup. It was going good but due to some reasons I couldn’t go ahead with it. And I know for a fact that running a company is very different from academics. So somewhere in my mind I knew that I had to do something for the students. HostelFund works with various students, colleges and incubators to help grow their startups.
When you enter your late thirties, you realize that you want to do something different but it is too late by then. Hence, I feel students should look at entrepreneurship as their first choice. It gives you that scope of constant growth and challenge in life.
Q2. What were some of the initial challenges that you faced?
On a personal front, there comes a time when you realize that no one else is as passionate about your idea as you are. Hence, you need to be constantly involved in it and I learnt this after a long time. After a point, it gets quite lonely. No one really helps you. So, you have to keep pushing past that phase to make your idea work.
Also, it takes courage to leave your job and venture into something. It is quite challenging to convince your family. Afterall, there are currently 38000 startups in India and merely less than 1% succeed.
Professionally speaking, identifying the right problem is a challenge. You need to figure out the right problem that you would like to solve. Talking about challenges at HostelFund, students still do not realize that starting something is easy. They are not aware. You just need to go deeper into your subjects and the problem. You need to first max out on your own resources before venturing out.
HostelFund is the 1st in India to provide investment to student startups. Their success is our success. However, it is quite challenging as a new concept in India.
Q3. Road ahead in the new normal? How has COVID impacted business?
These have been tough times and students, unfortunately, couldn’t join their offers. Yet, it did not come in the way of them starting a new venture of their own. We have received 250+ student startups in the last 4 months and it is so encouraging. Also, I have partnered with a lot of companies that are in pipeline for pre-seed funds. You see, now there are 24 hours in a day. No unnecessary chai breaks or anything. Students are available all the time and so are we.
What I miss is going to campuses, the connect somewhere is missing.
Q4. Advice to young entrepreneurs?
- Please try out. It is very important for you to differentiate yourself from the rest of the batch. Go out and build something, just start.
- Use and leverage the platform of IMT. We have so many startups and leaders, leverage the network.
- Pay your knowledge forward, help people out.
- Be humble. You need to have the soft skills. It is easy to develop or hire someone for the hard skills but it is highly important for you to be truthful and ethical.
Q5. Role of IMT in your journey?
I would say that it has been very critical. Any network you would have from now would be that of your college. For example, my first job was offered to me by an IMTian, HostelFund’s first funding was through an IMTian and even I help my fellow IMTians. Nowadays, people charge you to connect to people so we are fortunate to be a part of such a legacy. it will keep on playing a huge role in the future too I feel.
Q6. Who inspires you the most?
There is not one. But if I have to name someone it would be Ratan Tata. Reading about what he says and his soft skills, its all so amazing. I have met him once and his journey has been amazing and ethical. There have been so many institutes that he has started and we don’t even get to know about it. He is an inspiration truly.
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