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Arise, Awake

The Inspiring Stories of Young Entrepreneurs Who Graduated from College into a Business of Their Own

By Rashmi Bansal
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Arise, Awake by Rashmi Bansal

Arise, Awake (2015) introduces readers to some of India’s most inspiring up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Drawn from a wide variety of different educational and geographical backgrounds, these young guns have established themselves in industries as diverse as the construction sector, student housing and fast food. The one thing they have in common? They took matters into their own hands rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity to drop into their laps.

Key idea 1 of 7

Practo Technologies was born in an entrepreneurship nursery in Karnataka.

Back in the early 2000s, “entrepreneurship” wasn’t a particularly well-known concept in India. One university wanted to change that. The National Institute of Technology Karnataka – NITK for short – was one of the few places you could find an entrepreneurship cell in the country. Its so-called Eforea “E-cell” was designed as a launching pad for talented youngsters working on the next big thing.

Shashank ND, an NITK student from Bangalore, joined Eforea in his second year. Up to that point he’d been a pretty average student who’d only really distinguished himself in extracurricular campus activities. The events organized by the e-cell, however, changed the course of his life. Listening to top business gurus like founder Ajit Balakrishnan talk about their experiences helped Shashank discover his true vocation: entrepreneurship.

He didn’t have to look far for a partner, either – his future collaborator Abhinav Lal was also an Eforea member.

The two would-be world-changers started small. Their idea? To create software for doctors. After borrowing 10,000 rupees – roughly USD $145 – from Shashank’s mother, they registered their company under the name Practo Technologies. Things were still fairly vague, but that didn’t deter Shashank and Abhinav. The duo organized a big presentation and invited 25 local doctors. But the event was a disaster. Shashank felt uncomfortable in his ill-fitting suit, and their business pitch largely fell on deaf ears.

One medical practitioner in the room – Mohammed Ali – wasn’t quite so quick to dismiss what he’d heard. He told the two budding entrepreneurs to persevere, and even gave them an idea to work on. Ali had noticed that his patients often needed to be reminded of their regular checkups. Wouldn’t it be simpler, he wondered, if those reminders could be automated? Shashank and Abhinav got to work designing the software to do just that.

Their prototype was simple, but Ali was delighted with the automated SMS reminders it sent out. Encouraged by this success, the NTIK graduates committed their futures to Practo. In 2010, their hard work paid off. Sequoia Capital, an American venture capital firm that had backed Apple and Google in the tech giants’ early days, decided to invest in the medical start-up. It was exactly the boost Practo needed.

By 2015, the firm was worth almost three million US dollars, and its services were being used by 10,000 doctors across India.

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