The Success Mantra for Start-Ups: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

The Success Mantra for Start-Ups: Great Lakes Guest Lecture Series

GREAT LAKES GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Mr DEEPAK GOEL

CEO – KARMACIRCLES

“Do. Or Do Not. There is no try” – Yoda, Jedi Master

Understanding of the above quote is an important pre-requisite for an entrepreneur to be successful. The path of Entrepreneurship is the one that is filled with utmost uncertainties that one can face compared to the other naturally progressing career options.

Being an aspiring entrepreneur, Great Lakes, offered me ample opportunities to interact and learn directly from the masters of this trade. As the campus is located in the corporate hub of the country, Great Lakes, Gurgaon enables extensive industry engagement with entrepreneurs, CXOs and industry experts as they visit the campus regularly to share their perspectives with the future business leaders of the nation. That’s how our batch (PGDM 2017-19) got to meet Mr Deepak Goel, CEO & Founder Karmacircles.

Mr Deepak Goel’s Guest Lecture at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was a compilation of his life and thought processes that aimed at providing the students with a more Entrepreneurial viewpoint of life rather than just living in terms of pay packages. An IIT-Delhi educated techie who went on to live the “American Dream” with his job at Microsoft to pursuing his MBA at UC, Berkeley to working at multiple companies from scratch with an entrepreneurial spirit and making them grow to where they are today, he has worn multiple hats because of his multi-faceted skill sets. This is what differentiates him from the other bunch of entrepreneurs, at least in the Indian context. He truly learnt the art of Entrepreneurship in and out, theoretically and practically to be able to follow his life calling of creating Karmacircles.

The lecture was a mix of Startup Organizational Culture, Valuation of Startups, General Principles of Success and quite an insightful bunch of advice to the multiple questions asked by the Students.

At the start of the lecture, he laid a very simple formula for a successful startup involving just four steps. (1) Identify the problem you want to solve, (2) Solve the problem, (3) Monetize the Solution created and then (4) go for more money to scale up the solution. A rather simple algorithm which in reality is really difficult to follow as even developing/handling that one simple product/solution is quite complex. This is what calls for the Product Management Concept. Explaining his understanding and experiences in Product Management, he expressed dissatisfaction of how Product Management is done or pursued by organizations in India as it still remains to be a highly misunderstood concept in the country. Being a seasoned professional in the field, he emphasized how the concept can help in building successful products within a company, going on to creating multiple successful companies within a big company, like Google. Working at Microsoft, he knew much more about Google and its processes than Microsoft which earned him the name of “The Google Guy.” He then shared some insights as to how Google managed its Product Line and has grown from a Search Engine to the huge yet entrepreneurial tech-conglomerate it is today.

He then went on to share his learning experiences under the guidance of Eric Ries of the Lean Startup fame and even Eric Ries’ Guru Steve Blank. The two major concepts he learnt were The Value Hypothesis and Growth Hypothesis. When these philosophies are incorporated in a company in its ideation phase, it significantly enhances its probability of achieving long-term success, thereby, ensuring value and growth creation.

Explaining Value Hypothesis, Mr. Goel talked in detail how companies can create value. Not just in monetary terms, but value that customers can relate to. But for doing so, the companies must have an eagle eye vision of the solution of the problem that they set out to tackle. Giving real examples from the start-up and corporate world, he differentiated how certain companies create value straight away to companies that create value over time.

Constantly comparing his Valley experience to his Indian experience, he stated that Indian start-ups and new-age companies mainly focus only on creating monetary value but not the intangible value and many of those companies go on to create initial momentum, to a great extent monetize it, but keep pushing their goalposts for the value creation. One of the main questions he raised during the lecture was whether these companies will be able to continue the momentum once the cash inflow slows down.

Explaining Growth Hypothesis, he talked about continuously doing what you do best and create personal and home-ground advantage in areas as such to create a true product that can grow sustainably over time.

Commenting on the Indian attitude of approaching jobs, he shared his story further and explained how he took several pay cuts in order to expand his learning curve, something he finds lacking in the Indian scenario. Linking the topic, he shared the factors one should consider while taking up a new job and said that the person you are going to work for, is the most important factor. Not being completely driven by package but rather through the group one is going to work with and the learning outcome one has out of the job as other major factors. He advised students to be ethical and act professionally when it comes to working in organizations.

In the last few minutes of the lecture, he gave a brief glimpse of his passions which include, Social Networks, Mentoring, and creating valuable products that solve problems. Being an aspiring entrepreneur myself, I found this session to be the most illuminating.

Such interactions with industry stalwarts prepare the students for the challenges of the business world and Great Lakes gives utmost importance to these guest lectures as they are the most crucial ingredient for developing business ready managers. The importance of these interactions is evident with the fact that 150 plus industry leaders, entrepreneurs and CXOs have visited Great Lakes last year and shared their valuable insights with the students to prepare them for what’s to come.

Author: S SnehanshN

PGDM, Class of 2019, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

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Droom B-Plan: Great Lakes, Gurgaon, Students grab the 1st Runner-Up Spot

Droom B-Plan: Great Lakes, Gurgaon, Students grab the 1st Runner-Up Spot

Droom is recognised as India’s first and only online market place for buying and selling new and used automobiles. The founder, Sandeep Aggarwal, a strong believer and implementer of his own mantra, “Companies may fail, but entrepreneurs never fail”, is one of the mentors in what is itself is India’s first startup reality show, ‘MTV Dropout’.

Great Lakes, Gurgaon, Students – Rupali Jain, Tejveer Singh Kalsi & Tushar Singh grabbed the 1st Runner-up spot at the prestigious national level B-Plan competition organized by Droom.

We met with the team to know more about their overall experience

Q. What exactly is the Droom B-Plan Competition? 

The basic idea of Droom B-Plan Competition is that the participants are required to come up with the ideas regarding the expansion of Droom in C2C market and submit a Business Plan for the same.

Q. What was the Business Plan your team came up with?

As per the problem statement, we were supposed to carry out a market research that comprised of three components i.e. competitor, product and consumer research. Based on the market potential that was analysed, we came up with a disruptive Go-to-market strategy that would help Droom in garnering maximum market share in C2C space.

Q. How tough would you describe this competition?

This competition expected to recognize the brightest business minds across the country by assessing them on their strategic response to real business situations experienced by Droom. It was open for all and saw an overwhelming participation from a huge number of colleges and corporates including IITs and IIMs of the country.

Q. How would you describe the overall experience of your outstanding performance on this platform? 

It was an immensely enriching experience for us to have been part of such an event which not only helped us in putting all the learnings acquired from GLIM into practical implementation but also provided us with credible wings so that we can fly in the direction we coveted the most. Moreover, the honour of being associated with one of the stalwarts of the business world is in itself a feeling that is hard to depict in words.

 

Random B-School Musings

Random B-School Musings

Even as term 4 for PGPM 2018 is underway, it seems like yesterday when I entered the campus of Great lakes institute of management, Gurgaon. I think it will be fair for me to say that by now our learning curve has grown exponentially (I was actually looking for an even more superlative word) for having studied twenty two courses in these four and a half months. In the aftermath, however, we have sixteen ‘not so frequently opened’ yet bulky pillow sized books for our perusal (I honestly don’t know when and how these will actually be used.)

But as I recount the seemingly short experience here, I struggle to describe how awesome this journey is panning out to be. I am unable to elucidate that feeling where, on a Friday night – 11:53 PM to be exact – you are still in the Academic block and ceaselessly trying not to miss the midnight deadline for a class group project and at the same time keeping your subconscious mind alert about the pre-reads you have for next day’s schedule that has an early morning lecture on Statistical methods for decision making and Financial accounting.

TGIF? Nah, not for a B-schools student. (Now I know why corporates crave for Fridays)

But all this seems lame and off-centre without the most important ingredient in this recipe for what I call the ‘B-school Khichdi’ – “The almost ready future Manager”.  Yes, the My B-school herd has been the most entertaining and the most Heteroscedastic (Prof. Bharadwaj, please forgive me for the usage) bunch of individuals. Ok, a quick recap – Heteroscedasticity refers to the circumstance in which the variability of a variable is unequal across the range of values of a second variable that predicts it. Thank me later.

These people have made life interesting and I would be irreverent if I don’t mention the kind of people I have encountered here. So, in no particular order, let me first introduce you to:

  • The Future CEO. No, the batch’s current CEO. PGPM batch of 2018 knows who that is. This person is extremely good at everything without being the best at anything. We all know the phrase – “Jack of all trades and Mas…” (Just kidding. Or am I?) Talking of class participation, this person speaks regularly and intelligently in class without ever saying anything remotely controversial. Diplomacy is the word!
  • Ok sorry. I am getting ahead of myself – In economic theory, and also in lay man’s opinion, there is a notion that whatever goods and services are provided, they must be paid for by someone – that is, you don’t get something for nothing. As Prof. Himadri would say, “There ain’t no such thing as free lunch”. Or as I abbreviate it, Tanstafl.
    But we sure have “Free- wait for it-loaders”. These are the clever ones. They know the knack of delegating responsibility without giving the slightest notion that part of the onus is on them too. But we all sure have a lot of things to learn.
  • Moving on, we have the ‘Friend-setters’ who have continued their trendsetting attitude of being jovial and cordial with everyone. But there are also people from the exact bipolar end.
  • The Solitary Reaper – No, that is too optimistic a phrase for this person who thinks the world is an illusion and human interaction is a mystery. William Wordsworth would never want me to tag such a person with his beautifully written metaphor of a nightingale. The lone wolf would be a suitable phrase, yes. But who knows. Although termed aloof, they are the fiercest of friends and they have their own little world. They are focussed with full intent on one goal. Ok, too much philosophy. Apologies.

By the way, this ‘One goal’ theory brings me to the most important subject of discussion that any B-school has to offer – Placements.

Needless to say, even as I am drafting this, the Pre-Placement preparation scenario is in full swing and it never ceases to give jitters as soon as a JD from a firm that is offering jobs is released. But the most dominant part of this preparation has to be the “Group discussion” prep and it is hilarious at times.

I hope the PlaceComm doesn’t throw me as an outcast when I talk about the observations I have made in these sessions. The observations are actually on the participants. So I think I am safe.

Every group discussion (I’ve observed) has these. And I am one among them (so much for modesty). Here’s a broad categorization of the four typical characters I have encountered in GDs so far:

  • The “Know it all” sort – The genuinely, just, ridiculously smart person of the batch who often brings up unusual and weird (yet relevant) opinions on the table during a discussion. This person sure has a way of getting noticed, for the right reasons. Sadly, all we can do is look up to him/her.
  • The “I agree with you” sort – Always finishes the other person’s sentences and adds the aforementioned phrase. Seldom has unique points but vehemently participates nonetheless.
  • The “Search engine optimist” – This person has gone through that One link on the internet (Invariably the first link that pops up on a basic google search. No matter how remotely irrelevant the current topic of discussion is, this genius will try to bring in some fact or figure from that One link
  • The “Silencer” – The loudest noise this person makes is from his pen when he is scribbling stuff during the initial two minutes that are given to gather ones thoughts. This person has all the right points to discuss, but fails to bring them out in speech. Definitely noticeable when the group discussion is a fish market.

There are innumerable memories that are etched on our minds since the past four and a half months and I am sure a lot more is in store for us as we head on to the placement season with vigour and zeal.

Godspeed!

Author: Samuel Johnson

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

Celebrating the 80 Years of Dr Bala V. Balachandran

It was the day of Guru Purnima when we were to meet the founder of our prestigious institute, Dr Bala V. Balachandran and it was an honour to be with him to celebrate his 80th Birthday on this auspicious day. All 270 students on campus were extremely excited to be the first ones to welcome him here in India. The campus was bussing with hyperactivity, students were preparing for the cultural event in every corner of the campus with never seen before passion, and kaleidoscopic colours of ethnic dresses could be seen everywhere. The entire aura of the campus was exuding enthusiasm as we were looking forward to celebrating our Guru’s birthday on the eve of Guru Purnima.

The amphitheatre had massive arrangements to make the upcoming evening etched in our hearts forever. A great stage was setup with a potpourri of decorations, lights and cameras, and each one of us was instilled with delight to welcome our founder with sparkling energy and zest.

Everyone was spellbound when he finally arrived. The energy that he has even at the age of 80 is something you’ll have to see to believe.

The evening started with birthday greetings given by great dignitaries and our dear faculty members. The heart touching poem on the journey of Dr. Bala written and recited by our very own professor, Dr. V.P. Singh awestruck everyone present in the amphitheatre. This poem was all about struggle and challenges faced by Uncle Bala and how he managed to overcome all the challenges to shine bright like a star. In the words of Uncle Bala, “A great aptitude with a good attitude takes us to a higher altitude” and he has gone way beyond the extra mile to prove it.

Next, it was time for students to showcase their talents for which they had put in a lot of effort, taking out time from their busy schedules and practising rigorously to greet Uncle Bala. There were some fabulously mesmerising performances comprising of dance, drama, singing and the stage was completely on fire. The energy of the Great Lakers didn’t end here, we had a spectacular flash mob where all the students joined and performed an amazing random act.  We also had an electrifying power-packed dance performance which was a mix of Bollywood, Bhangra and Fusion. I really enjoyed being part of the flash mob and the group dance performance. Not only did we had relentless practise sessions (helped me lose some weight as well :P), but also learnt so much from peers, made great friends and had the most memorable time of our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle Bala was fascinated and spell bound by the amount of energy and creative young talent we have at our institute. He gave us his blessings and sang a beautiful song for all of us. It was an unforgettable moment for everyone in attendance. All his teachings and inspirational words have motivated us to move ahead and achieve great heights with a positive attitude. The heart-felt memories of this day would be cherished by us forever.

Last but not the least, we all wish that you keep on climbing the ladder of success and keep on inspiring us for many more years to come. Wish you an amazing year ahead, Uncle Bala.

Author: Sakshi Khurana

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Great Lakes Approach to Learning Microeconomics

The Great Lakes Approach to Learning Microeconomics

The concepts of microeconomics are the driving force behind the key personal and business financial decisions that we make in our daily lives. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the core fundamentals of microeconomics via experimentation rather than through mere theoretical observation. Coming from a technical background, my concepts of economics were, let’s just say, a bit blurry. But, I and many of my classmates who share the same academic and industry background learnt the entire concept of Microeconomics in a matter of days through experimentation.

The Micro-Economics project of Term-I at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was very different. As part of this project, the batch of 120 students was divided into groups of six and every group had to start a business inside the college campus. The business could be anything from product manufacturing and home & personal care to food delivery and miscellaneous services. Our investment cap for the business was established at INR 500 and initially it seemed impossible to start a business under that amount. But all the groups then started analyzing the market, needs and demand of their target customers. Everyone did extensive market research before starting the businesses to understand the requirements and needs of their target market. Market research was done through questionnaires, by conducting interviews, taking suggestions etc. Every group collected the primary data about their prospective customers before starting the business. After the research was over, it was time to put it to use and execute the business idea. There were twenty groups and hence, twenty businesses. Some of these were SantaKaBanta (a soda point corner), Fortune Coffee (a small scale coffee house and coffee delivery service), IceExpress, DeliverIt, a Bhelpuri corner etc.

Our group started a business named “Need2Home.” It was a delivery business in which we delivered anything and everything that is required by the students on a daily basis and could be bought from the nearby areas. On day 1 we designed our team’s pamphlet and distributed those among the students and staff members. We then started taking orders. Initially, we didn’t get many orders and most of the orders that we did get were from immediate friends. But, slowly our business started picking pace and after 2-3 days of providing impeccable services, we became quite famous among the students. We enjoyed managing all the important aspects of running a business like marketing, operations and maintaining balance sheets. Although it was a project of Microeconomics, we applied the knowledge of all the subjects that we had learnt in Term-1 of our course.

We had quite a free hand when it came to experimenting with our business. We (i) fluctuated the price of the services depending upon the market conditions (ii) reduced the profit margin (iii) made demand forecasts etc. Initially, we had kept a higher profit margin but due to severe competition from another team, we had to lower our margins. However, due to this, we managed to secure a large number of orders and as a result also managed to increase our sales figures substantially. And yes, we had a competitor in this small business space. We also felt threat from Amazon, Flipkart and other e-commerce entities because, as a small scale business, we did not plan on entering the online marketplace.

The Happy Customers!

Altogether, it felt like having a real business. By the time the project got over we earned more than INR 5000 in revenue. Considering the fact that we invested about 100 bucks in the venture, it was a tremendous achievement.

Finally, we had to prepare a report based on the data collected from our business. We used all the basic concepts such as demand equations, curve, cost function, profit maximization, regression analysis and demand forecasting techniques to prepare the business report.

This project helped us in the following ways: (i) It broadened our vision towards the various business dimensions, (ii) It helped us understand the concepts of Microeconomics, and, (iii) it gave us the ability to realize and overcome the challenges in business world.

It was truly an extensive and amazing learning experience and we enjoyed every bit of it. I believe such projects help a lot in practical understanding of the theoretical concepts and we are extremely grateful to our faculty, Dr V.P Singh Sir, and the college for providing us such wonderful opportunities to learn in a practical manner.

Authors: Akhilesh Tripathi & Shubham Singh

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Pilot Episode: ‘The one with the Sweet Beginning’

Even as we were in the first week of our stay inside our lush green campus in Gurgaon, thoughts like – getting ourselves accustomed to the hostel scenario,  interacting and knowing our peers, a probable change in our biological and sleep cycles and the hunch of going back to books(that still feels intimidating) were on our minds. A plethora of similar emotions was playing a strange medley in and around us. Then, Great Lakes came up with the outbound trip to Rishikesh, the most fitting pilot episode to our newest series in life- The B school experience.

Our trip began on 19 May as we boarded our buses and started our long and fun filled night. Antakshari, Dumb charades, singing and dancing were the norm for the night… This was just the beginning!

We reached our pristine and beautiful campsite ‘Life missions’ in the morning and got ourselves ready for a day filled with unforgettable adventures. We split into two groups. One group geared up for a thrilling tryst with Rappelling as another started for an electrifying Rafting experience on the river Ganges.

As I braced myself for my rendezvous with rappelling, I could not help but wonder what it would feel like. The thought of hanging from a tall bridge with just a rope to our rescue felt awesome! I am obviously talking for myself. I am sure the same was not the case for people with Acrophobia. 😀

Cut to the actual experience, it did feel awesome! It was amazing to let go and hang almost perpendicular to the bridge and slowly descend systematically. It also gives a sense of trusting the guide who was giving all the instructions. Trust is what drives all businesses! In retrospect, it seems there was so much of sub-conscious learning happening.

Next, we had a team exercise of building a bridge with straws. Working in teams and collaborating amongst each other was a fun learning experience, to say the least.

As the day approached noon, we returned to our campsite, had lunch and eagerly prepared ourselves for Rafting. The review provided by the other group that returned added on to the excitement. We started off and reached a location called ‘Marine drive’, strapped ourselves with life jackets and helmets, and made sure we took proper instructions given by the Rafting coordinator. I can vouch for the entire batch by saying that this experience was, without any argument, the highlight of the trip.

As we started rowing our rafts in unison, we came across quite a few surprises. For a person who is new to the rafting world, the idea of encountering ‘rapids’ was massively thrilling. Our coordinator gave us direct and lucid instructions before each of the four rapids we challenged. These were:

  1. Good evening
  2. Sweet 16
  3. Roller coaster
  4. The three blind mice

Each of these rapids has a special memory with all of us. Experiences like standing inside the raft with the probability of falling over, taking a toss in the river, witnessing an ever-beautiful landscape across the river and getting ourselves lost in a myriad of senses and thrills as we witnessed the beautiful sunset are a few souvenirs we took back home from this experience.

As the Rafting escapade ended, we had one more learning experience in the form of a raft building exercise that was veritably fun filled and utterly enriching.

Coming back to our campsite, an evening with the bonfire and music awaited us. With our batch having a talent spectrum ranging from professional violin players, drummers and guitarists to melodious singers and dancers, this evening was exactly what we needed to feel refreshed.  As we dispersed to our tents after such a happening day, we all had a sense of belonging amongst each other.

We struggled to wake up the next day, but Palhan Sir’s meditation session filled us with reinvigorated energy as we headed off to a trek. Returning from a short hike, we had one final meet up focusing on the assessment for the two group activities. It was fun witnessing all the teams doing interesting introductions and victory dances.

None of us was in a mood to leave Rishikesh and the trip back to Gurgaon did seem long. Nevertheless, the end of this eventful trip marked the start of our ‘B-School’ journey.’ A journey that will surely be filled with ups and downs just like the rapids that we faced in Rishikesh. But if we work together then I’m positive that we’ll all get a chance to perform our victory dances at the end of this year.

 

‘IN THE MIDST OF MOUNTAINS’

A trip to a beautiful place,

Uttarakhand, you blessed us with your grace.

Driving through your mountains’ maze,

Mesmerised by your rain’s presence.

Drifting down the bridge like a pro,

Amidst the mountains’ meadow.

To get rid of phobia of heights,

Rappelling was an amazing exercise.

Ganga, the mightiest of the rivers

Embraced us with all her ardour.

Feeling the quivers in her waters,

Rafting, an experience gifted to us.

An evening with a Bonfire,

Music, you are the sire.

Guitar, Violin and Drums singing to its melody,

Musicians tuning to all its glory.

Staring at the sky of twinkling stars,

Sleeping in the mother nature’s arms.

Opening eyes to the beautiful misty morning,

Waking up to the sun between the mountains, rising.

Meditating early in the morning,

Trekking through the hills in the surrounding.

Relaxing by the river that’s flowing,

Folks playing water volleyball, enjoying.

An end to a beautiful journey,

A lovely opening to a new Odyssey,

Cheers to a lot of memories,

As a fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, It is

‘The One with a Sweet Beginning’.

 

Authors: Samuel Johnson & Prithvi Naadig

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

Sitting in the Hall of Fame

Even at the age of 80, Dr Bala V. Balachandran, is an inspiration to many and a motivation to many more. His energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and, most importantly, wit are the key traits that make him so loved and respected by all.

Having an opportunity to attend his class was truly a blessing. After interacting with this great gentleman, I often kept wondering what is it like to be successful at the age of 80? What keeps him going?

When asked the same, Uncle Bala said, it’s the enthusiastic students and their never ending thirst of knowledge. Seeing, interacting, teaching and always being surrounded by people in their twenties make him feel twenty at heart and the love and respect that he receives from then is what encourages him to achieve more and do more for them. Well, this is ‘attitude being gratitude’ at its finest and speaks volumes about the character of this phenomenal person. It is in my personal opinion, that it’s not just being successful but doing it the right way is what differentiates the men from the boys.

So, what was it like to attend his class? The aura of the class comprising of the enthusiasm of the students and the respect that he commanded were among the first oblivious things that can be observed. The constant humour, witty one-liners, the command and expertise over the subject (duh! he is the pioneer of the subject) and his constant real-time illustrations are the composition of his class.

The key take away for a student from Uncle Bala’s class are the real life experiences shared, industry specific problems defined and the strategic methods implemented to solve the same which are in correlation with your academic subjects helping you bridge the gap and connect the dots.

In his short stay of 3 days and 10 hours of classes, he has given us much to cherish and the impression that he has left on us students will be everlasting.

Author: Ashwin AN

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon