IIT Rajasthan is currently holding an entrepreneurship meet – the Taj IIT Conclave, something that falls in line with the Director of the Institute, Dr. P. K. Kalra – that social entrepreneurship is the means to address the real challenging problems in the current society.
It was an wonderful opportunity to meet the pioneers in the field, the entrepreneurs who were led by their passion to do what do they actually believed in. From the Founders of HCL to the newest graduates of last year who had just started their own firm, all were present there. It was an inspiring story – how HCL was founded by six friends led by a common vision of making a computer in India. Once started from a garage now a company worth billions – it was amazing to hear HCL’s journey from one of its founder Mr. Ajai Chowdhry.
The whole conclave revolved around the single concept of how social entrepreneurship on providing low-cost solutions. Simultaneously the “Ideas” competition – where the students got a chance to present their entrepreneurial idea in front of the jury, and only a best few would get selected to get funding to get evolved into actual projects.
The talks were all interesting, with eminent persons like Ajit Nair, Shashi Ullal, Sourav Majumdar, etc speaking on topics ranging from the journey towards entrepreneurship to what makes a successful entrepreneur and the impact of media on entrepreneurship.
But more often than not, people were more oriented on focusing on the business aspect of a venture, the money making part. Maybe that is what makes a successful entrepreneur (I can’t really say, I’m not one). But in a world which is becoming a global village, I find ethics and maybe the value that a product generates for its users the ultimate parameter that governs everything. Maybe an entrepreneur will agree on that without letting go of the business part. But what I mean is somewhat similar to the non-profit open-source movement that is going on in the software industry right now. I can’t help myself but like the practices and the community feel that comes from these kind of ventures. Its more like comparing yourself to be an entrepreneur like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs who built Microsoft or Apple or to be Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds who founded GNU project or the Linux project. Its kind of like the priority you give to users above your interests, and thats what sets it apart from the whole scene of making money. You will not be a capitalist true, but if users are happy with your product you are bound to make money, even if it is from donations. That is what drives the whole idea.
This philosophy is best presented by the Mozilla, another non-profit organisation dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands. Their manifesto best describes their practices in their browser Firefox. And I very much side with their philosophy rather than traditional ways of entrepreneurial money making.