October 29th 2011 :  The city of Oxford charmed me the moment I set my foot down from the National Express after the tiring overnight journey. My colleagues from Strathclyde Graduate School of Business and I stepped into Said Business School, to attend The Emerge Conference. I must appreciate the promptness and hospitality of Emerge organizers – something every Event Manager should learn from.  Everything was on time and at its place.Even the numbers were accounted for, with precision.

The conference began at 10:00 with Bill Strickland‘s talk. Sitting in the front row, right in front of the podium, did not make me any special. Hundreds of people in the Nelson Mandela Theatre were awestruck and speechless after his 30 minutes phenomenal talk. An Standing Ovation came willingly and naturally from every individual in that theatre that day. He shared his life’s journey from being a pilot to making a difference in thousand’s of people’s lives. The key takeaway from his talk was that Environment Drives Behaviour.  The impact and storyline of his talk can be read on the twitter stream that was running alongside his talk - http://goo.gl/FCNVu  and to get a glimpse of his talk – you could view one of those old videos from youtube. One of the tweets was by Rajeeb Dey, to which I responded, expressing my interest in his talk and to my surprise, Rajeeb responded to my tweet, welcoming me to attend his event.

Following Bill’s talk, attendees had a choice of attending sessions that suited their interests. I chose to attend Breaking into the  field : What are my options by 1.) Charmian Love, CEO, Volans, 2.) Rajeeb Dey, CEO & Founder, Enternships.com & 3.) Amy Birchall, Director, Client Services, Volans

Enternships.com has been something that I followed from the Hacker News post some 3 and half years ago, linked it to Startup Britain Post on HN on its launch and just out of curiosity, I always kept surfing enternships.com  when I was working in India. I chose to attend Rajeeb Dey’s talk , because frankly, I admire what he has achieved at such a young age. The talk was very enriching because apart from the speakers, even the audience was very mature and had serial social entrepreneurs from as far as China, Egypt, Mexico and South Africa – who continuously added value to the conversations by raising critical questions and also answering other’s questions through their rich and varied experiences. Rajeeb Dey allowed other speakers to lead, and later he talked about his experiences and journey in launching enternships.com and answered a few specific questions about Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Market Analysis of an idea, etc. Charmain Love concluded the talk with her traditional TOP 10 LIST. I got an opportunity to speak with Rajeeb one on one and he humbly listened to my specific questions on how to go about market analysis of a startup plan. My ideas were inspired by Getting Real‘s ideology of “scratching your own itch”. He recommended a test run for the idea and promised to reply in detail if I wrote to him.

Dell Social Innovation Competition opened for feedback session right after lunch where I networked with participating students and entrepreneurs  from Oxford University, Hult Business School, Bath University, Durham University, etc. I shared my Business Plan (orally) with them all and received a very positive feedback.  After making some minor changes, I submitted the 1 page written Business Plan for Judge’s review. At 5:00 pm, Dell team invited last year’s winners Takataka Solution to talk about their experience, who later announced that out of 20 competitors, they chose 4 entries based on their own criteria. My business case could not make it to the final 4 which led me into a lot of introspection of writing a quality business plan. Rajeeb Dey’s reply to my email also talked about the same steps which I now plan to execute, next.

October 30th 2011 : Met Shaad Hamid who was very humble, hospitable and open minded about sharing his expertise and knowledge. After patiently listening to my work experience and career goals, he  devised and recommended strategies for me on the fly. The experience was very enriching and inspirational. “Finding those gaps” ! Thanks Shaad.

The Emerge Conference was a huge Networking opportunity and an eye opener in terms of what I need to focus on during my MBA at SGBS. I would like to thank my previous employers – Deepak Ramchandran and Ajay Ramchandran from SourceN for allowing me to use their product “Livecampus” for my Business Plan on a very very short notice. The idea has now grown from just an idea, to my passion – Thank you, Emerge !


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