Shaping Entrepreneurs: Prof. Kaustubh Dhargalkar, Welingkar Institute Management, Mumbai

Prof. Kaustubh Dhargalkar is an entrepreneur-turned-academician and founder of three companies. After selling his last company in 2005, he took a year off to learn Yoga. Later he joined Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai where he introduced several innovations in the Business Design courses and established a Centre for Innovation & Memetics called Innowe. The center explores unconventional tools of Consumer Research to discover latent needs and new opportunities. He is currently serving as an Associate Professor of Innovation & Design, and as Mentor at Center for Innovation & Enterprise at IIMB.

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Prof. Kaustubh DhargalkarFinancial empowerment of women makes for sound economics. Often their emancipation and financial independence translates into empowerment of the community as well; first extending to their families then to the people, institutions and businesses in their communities. NEN's faculty mentor Kaustubh Dhargalkar's work with women entrepreneurs aims at cinching this empowerment by mentoring their ventures.

Kaustubh is not new to mentoring, having worked with innovation centres of reputed business schools. His long experience as a successful entrepreneur brings to the table a sound understanding of the market and business realities. As an academician and educator, his access to innovative ideas and ventures, places him in enviable position to influence his entrepreneur-mentees.

As part of the NEN-CBFW Mentor Development Program, Kaustubh Dhargalkar attended the 'Entrepreneurial Finance' module conducted by Prof. John Mullins of London Business School.

 

"Everybody needs a mentor"

The journey of entrepreneurship can begin for any number of reasons. But can those reasons hold water when facing the tough expectations and demands of the market? How do women entrepreneurs step up and launch a venture that promise to meet these demands? What does it take to be successful?

Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research started an initiative called Prayaas where 30 women were taken through a three-day workshop to help realise their entrepreneurial dreams. Renowned faculty and industry experts including Prof. Kaustubh mentored them in different aspects of starting and scaling a venture.

Kaustubh worked with the 30 women entrepreneurs on the areas of Need identification, Opportunity spotting, Concept generation and Financing avenues. Starting with the whetting of their business plans, the professor prompted his mentees to consider if the germination of their ventures lay in the bridging of a gap in the market or capitalisation of their skills. The session focused on key elements of a business plan including resource analysis and the issues an entrepreneur should expect to face. For every feasible idea, Kaustubh mentored the entrepreneurs on financing and scaling of their ventures, and strategies to consider while approaching bankers.

"Build it and they will come"

At the heart of a successful innovation lies a simple idea. Rehab Chogle and her business partner Shashaank Mehrotra have demonstrated this with their venture 'Muft Muft' which translates to 'Free Free'. A student of Prof. Kaustubh at Welingkars, Rehab saw an opportunity in reams of photo copies that an average student takes as part their course notes. The venture attempts to targets the student community by offering subsidised or free photo copies carrying the client/sponsor's branding in the footer.

The win-win goals see students who are only too happy to be spared of their money and time, while clients are happy to have a new avenue of reaching out to their target segment. Rehab cites the case of MAX (fashion merchandisers) who were having trouble with the brand recall for one of their stores in Matunga in Mumbai. Muft Muft researched the scope and targeted the three colleges in the vicinity with their services which has resulted in one happy client.

Prof. Kaustubh's mentoring has been invaluable to the young entrepreneur who stresses on the continuous evolution of the business model. The professor, ever willing to lend an ear to their questions, has been helping them in staying real and to not be consumed by their opinions. More importantly, says Rehab, his questions are the same any investor would ask, which in turn helps them to focus on scale, managing of stakeholders' expectations and on business development. A firm supporter of the venture, Kaustubh’s mentoring has instilled confidence in the realisation and growth of their venture.

The greatest satisfaction has been the enthusiasm and endorsement of their student-customers. They appreciate the novelty of the idea and are always eagerly consuming their service. Even the photo copier owners are happy to be part of the new initiative.