Leading South Asian entrepreneurs Ash Ashutosh, Sangeeta Bhatia, Vanu Bose, Kush Gulhati and Shiva Narendra along with recent South Asian graduates Amrita and Arun Saigal, were featured speakers and panelists at the Start 6, a course designed to teach engineering students the basics of entrepreneurship. Anantha Chandrakasan, the department head of Electrical Engineering and Computer activities said the course was the outcome of the recommendation of the visiting committee, which felt that there were many students in the EECS department who were interested in entrepreneurship and could benefit from such an offering.
The course featured a range of entrepreneurs – some which were just starting companies to senior entrepreneurs with many successful ventures under their belt. The course placed a great focus on women entrepreneurs. The organizing team had worked diligently to find women entrepreneurs. A leading light amongst the South Asian successful women entrepreneurs was Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia whose work has contributed to the creation of nearly 14 companies. She is one of the most cited MIT professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. Bhatia was the recipient of the 2014 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. She spoke about her work and the challenge of creating companies in the Biotech space.
There was a women's networking featuring Marina Hatsopulous, Cynthia Breazeal and others who, in addition to sharing their outstanding work also talked about issues that women entrepreneurs face. Ash Ashutosh gave a great talk on allocation of equity. Siva Narendra and Kush Gulhati shared insights into funding strategies. Vanu Bose shared insights in entrepreneurial paths.
Arun Saigal moderated a panel featuring recent alumni startups that included Amrita Saigal who spoke about her Social Enterprise Saathi. Arun also discussed the opportunities and challenges of working in a startup.
For students who had ideas and wanted to build a prototype a small amount of seed funding was also made available.
“For some the course has helped start companies and for others it has made them decide against a career in entrepreneurship. We consider both as a great success” said Anantha Chandrakasan.
For the participants it was a great opportunities to get insights into all aspects of business and will surely spur the creation of new companies.