Entrepreneurship project gone right!
by Punit Kothari and Abhay Kumar
We joined Openhouse at different times and through different sources. But we met as tribe members in the Entrepreneurship club. We had been participating in the club’s weekly challenges and then the Pitch Fest came along. It was an exciting entrepreneurship project to work on.
We had to pitch an idea for a company and so began our wild research. We looked at smart garbage disposal systems, antiviral nano-coating sprays for clothes and furniture (based on a discovery at IIT-ISM Dhanbad). Every time we came up with an idea for a business, we wanted to make sure it was feasible and commercially viable, not some fictional jibber jabber.
But after hours of research and pitching ideas to each other, we had found nothing that ticked all the boxes and was close to the mark. We decided to take a break and Punit began talking about his IB education and his extended essay topic. He mentioned his research on East Kolkata Wetlands, where the Sholapith plant grows.
Sholapith grows in the East Kolkata Wetlands in abundance but is used only in indigenous handicraft. When we started reading more about it, we learnt that the inner bark of the plant is very similar to styrofoam, one of the most abundantly used packaging material and one of the most toxic ones too.
We had found our idea. Sholapith, which is biodegradable and eco-friendly, could be used to make food containers like plates and cups and could be used as packaging material. We imagined it as a business that could be profitable and socially responsible. It checked all our boxes. We were obsessed with this idea and began picturing ourselves in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, being proud owners of a business that brought back the green revolution.
The experience of being a participant in the Pitch Fest to emerging as the winners was an invaluable one. Along the way, we were guided by judges and mentors who were entrepreneurs and investors themselves.
When we were selected as one of the top 10 teams, we were guided by Andery Guenov, a serial entrepreneur, and Laurelle Remzi, a communications and marketing expert. They were the most amazing mentors, giving us insightful suggestions to develop our idea and pitch it better. We compared the first presentation we had made to the one that we presented in the final competition, and there was a world of difference between them. It showed how much the mentors had helped us improve our pitch.
On the day of the final competition, we were more nervous than we had been during our board exams. We were anxious and our palms sweatier than ever. But there was an undercurrent of confidence. We were hopeful of making a good impression on the judges in the expectation that one day, they might actually fund our idea. This thought was fuel for our fire.
It was a day of great emotional turmoil. But in the end, when we won, it felt like it was all worth it. Not to mention the tacos and pizza our parents ordered to celebrate our win!
If we had an option, we would do this all over again.
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