The Entrepreneurship forum at Great Lakes

Is Teaching Entrepreneurship, The Teaching Of Getting Rich?

That question was the point of discussion yesterday at Great Lakes, when the EDF(Entrepreneurship Devolopment Forum) of Great Lakes, hosted faculty and students of GSU(Georgia State University).
The Entrepreneur Development Forum (EDF) of Great Lakes Institute of Management (Chennai) played host to the Entrepreneurial Team from Georgia State University (GSU), which is on a two-week study trip to India to learn about the Business Environment here and to learn from successful Indian entrepreneurs.

The team consisted of 3 faculty members namely Prof.Jim Beach, Dr.Sivanathan, Prof.Zoe Salloom and 16 students. The Great Lakes - EDF under the guidance of Professor Veeravalli is a forum to hone the entrepreneurship skills of students and assist them in developing viable ideas into full fledged business plans and provide a platform for the business plans to be incubated, started and stabilized. The EDF forum has a tie up with NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network) and TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs). The agenda of the meet was to exchange ideas about entrepreneurship between the visiting delegation and Great Lakes EDF. It acted as a platform to interact and bring out the budding entrepreneurial ideas.The event kicked off with Professor Veeravalli of Great Lakes briefing media persons on the concept of EDF and by giving a brief overview of the India study trip organized by GSU.

The podium was then handed over to Prof.Jim Beach, who initially had the audience in splits with his humorous real life anecdotes. Jim Beach, an experienced entrepreneur himself and now into academics started his first venture with just $2,000, that too on credit and was successful in generating a revenue of $56,000 within the first year of operation. He has to his credit the successful establishment of about 6-7 such ventures in a span of 5-6 years, each started with a capital investment of less than $10,000.He was the pioneer in starting Summer Camps for children in the U.K. His mantra for success as an entrepreneur is “Low Risk combined with Low Start-up Capital”. To quote Jim,”Entrepreneurs LOVE what they do”. He downplayed the importance of creativity in starting a new venture and stated that even stealing ideas works effectively, if you can do it better.

This was followed by Prof. Veeravalli addressing the audience and giving an overview of the Course Outline and activities of EDF followed by a brief Q&A session with the GSU team. He quoted Friedrich Nietzsche,”This is my way, where is yours” thus emphasizing that every successful entrepreneur has a different way of doing business and has to find it on his own.Joi Faisan of GSU, who has majored in Economics, addressed the gathering on behalf of her team. She gave an overview of the various academic programs in Management being held at GSU and stressed on the advantage of Practical Business Experience over classroom teaching sessions. She gave a snapshot of their visit to India.This was followed by Presentations from the EDF members, Abhishek Rai and Akash Vaze of Great Lakes. A brief about the EDF activities was given alongwith the plans and ideas for the forthcoming year. Rahul Tandon then gave the next presentation regarding the successful Indian entrepreneur stories and the present scenario for entrepreneurship development in India. Ashok Bannerjee, who has had rich hands on experience in entrepreneurship before joining Great Lakes, shared his experiences of doing business in India.

The Interaction between GSU's students and Great Lakes PGPM batch of 08, brought out a few points that dealt with the risks of entrepreneurship, the inspiration about start up's, the scorning of VC funding, cross cultural experiences of students on attitutes of entrepreneurship and a few insights on highly succesful start ups. One of the key speakers from GSU was their faculty, Jim Beach, who in his own right has been an entrepreneur several times over. Mr Jim Beach, seemed an excellent orator whose story had humour interspersed all over to make a very engaging discussion. He spoke about the misconception that Starting a company is all about Creativity. Creativity does help, but as long as one's execution and ideas about an existing concept is better, you as an entrepreneur are here to stay.

He was undivided in his opinion on saying that its better for start up's to focus on a low risk model, which may mean to stay off Venture Capitalist's money, as gong forward its possible a Venture capitalist may throw the owner of the company out. That was a case of "Once bitten twice shy"..,as it has happened to him twice before where the venture capitalist had to ask Jim to leave the business.Jim quotes that the average ownership of start up's in the US of founders was around 4% with the Venture capitalists calling the shots. Jim advocates that its better to start slowly and build the business with the money on hand rather than risking a million dollar business first up and ending up in bankruptcy.

Jim had started his first venture on $2000 on a credit card and grew rapidly in the field of Children's education.Jim's story on how he faced the challeneges in his life were worth hearing as one was able to draw a lot of inspiration from it. He was of the opinion that when one's back is pushed to the wall, it is then that one is able to work at full steam and able to pass over obstacles.

The evening ended with a vote of thanks by Great Laker Rishikesh Sinha and GSU student Scott Turner. To summarize, it was a very enriching experience for all budding entrepreneurs of GSU as well as Great Lakes.

Here are some pictures of the event

Prof Veeravalli addressing the gathering along with an EDF Member(Sankara Narayanan)

The Audience is all ears to Jim Beach!

Gloria Looks on as Prof Sallom shares his thoughts

A Student from GSU relating her eperiences

Ashok Bannerji, the Entrepreneur from our batch.

Jim Beach taking on questions with elan

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