Any conversation on Entrepreneurship is not complete without the words “connect” and “reach out”. It’s all about how many doors you can open and what better way than to tap into an alumni network. This is a network that already exists and all you have to do is plug yourself in.
Imagine if your angel is from the same college that you went to. How about the mentor? Clearly your conversation can progress a lot faster. We are sure the VC is willing to give a little more time to the fellow alumni. There is a soft corner and it is for you to take advantage.
BITS Pilani has done a great job in this area (read : BITS Pilani, the Startup Machine) and the alumni associations of other colleges are also warming up to the possibilities. The case in point being the BITOSA Innovation Conclave-2014 being organized by the Old Students Association of BIT, Mesra, in Bangalore on the 12th of July.
The idea of the event is to bring together students, ideas, entrepreneurs, mentors, angels and enthusiasts on a single platform to help them connect and create a whole bigger than sum of parts.
Colleges like IIT-Madras have started setting aside funds raised from alumni (as donations) for the innovation fund.
“The bond of trust is very strong between alumni of an institute. It’s like an unwritten code of trust and everyone works hard to ensure that it stays strong. The alumni associations are a rich source of ideas and support. I personally get my entire work done through alumni contacts from my engineering and MBA institute. But one has to work on it and cultivate these relations.” [Rakesh Godhwani, Head of IIMB Alumni Association and an Adjunct Professor at IIM Bangalore]
In the words of Saket Bhusan, Founder of sosio.in and an alumnus of BIT, Mesra, “My association with BITOSA has helped me in understanding the ABCs of running a business. It has helped me to tap into the pool of BITians for feedback and support”.
Similar sentiments are echoed by others founders who have leveraged the alumni network. Mohan Kumar, founder of iAccept, a platform to facilitate both employers and jobseekers close offers in a seamless manner, has effectively used the network for interacting with diverse users & find use cases for incorporating in the product development life cycle. Ashish Anand, co-founder Linksmart Technologies, has used the alumni network for hiring folks who are interested in this space.
So if you are an entrepreneur, the next time there is an alumni get together in town, make it a point to show up. And whenever you need help don’t hesitate to flash your college credentials and reach out to your alumni.
[About the author: Ramesh Agarwal is an alumni of IIM Bangalore and the Vice President of Birla Institute of Technology Old Students Association in Bangalore.
He is a great believer of the strength of the alumni network and has been working towards strengthening his college alumni network for close to 15 years.]
Image credit: shutterstock