Empowering the youth

Empowering the youth

Owing to the excessive rise in technology, not only are students doing wonders with their lives but also enhancing and sharpening their skills. The...

‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough’ - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Owing to the excessive rise in technology, not only are students doing wonders with their lives but also enhancing and sharpening their skills. The days of classroom learning are long gone. A smart device with a good internet connection can get you closer to fulfilling your dreams.

Earlier, if you were interested in robotics or poetry or any other hobby, for that matter, you would go up to your mother and tell her to enroll you in classes. In addition to it, being time-consuming it was also difficult to find appropriate workshops and the teachers would demand exorbitant amounts of money. Is all this trouble really worth it? Travelling from one place to the other along with spending so much money?

Smart Ideas
In order to curb these hassles a few enterprising students from SRM University, Chennai, started a company called ‘The Climber’. It is a start-up, which has been recognised by the United Nations and is also incubated out of NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore.

It has inspired various individuals out there to follow their dreams. It was started in 2013 by a second year engineering student, Zeeshan Mohammed, pursuing his undergraduate degree from SRM University, Zeeshan wanted to follow his passion; and engineering was surely not one of them. He and his friends were just sitting in their hostel room discussing physics, politics, economics and various other topics. They weren’t able to follow their passion and this hit Zeeshan hard.

“Yes, your career is important but if you aren’t happy with what you’re doing, the success will be short-lived,” says Zeeshan. Apart from him, the other four co-founders of The Climber are Fatema Hussain, Asad Dhamani, Ruhan Naqash, and Sameer Ramesh. Their main product is, ‘MyCaptain’, which is a mentoring platform solely for students from the age of 15-25. It is a UN recognised programme.

Students are trained by ‘mentors’, who are less than 25 years of age. These workshops take place for 30 days, with classes being held on three days of the week usually between 8:30 pm to 10 pm. There is a wide range of workshops on their website from Novel Writing to Psychology to Graphic Design to MUN to Robotics among other.

As of now, MyCaptain has an option of 18 workshops, which many of us would find difficult to find otherwise. Considering the student is busy with hectic schedule, they decided that these workshops would only be held online. No time waste, no energy waste and you are learning about your passion with a fresh state of mind. Hence, it’s a win-win situation.

As mentioned, it takes place at night which is the time most of the students are hassle-free from their school/college work. These workshops do not require any prior knowledge about the course you choose. Through these one month long workshops you learn all about the course starting from the basics. The classes can be accessed on your laptop on their website or through their app on your smartphone.
Mentors guide the students through voice notes and text messages.

The sole reason they are against video calls is that quite a few students living in hostels or PG’s don't have fast internet connection, due to which the calls might get interrupted leading to wastage of time and irritation. At the end of the workshop, students would be provided with a digital printable certificate. If a student performs exceedingly well in the workshop, he/she also gets a Letter of Recommendation from their respective mentors.

Hub of Opportunities
There is a heavy demand for internships too. Every student, whether they are in school or college or have graduated, search for internships and/or jobs. Not everyone has contacts and can get their way through. This is why platforms like Internshala and Frapp were designed.

Internshala, which first started out as a WordPress blog in 2010 has now become one of the largest internship programmes with a global rank of 4297 and is ranked 246 in India. ‘We aim to bridge the gap between employers and students.’ CEO and Founder of Internshala, Sarvesh Agrawal, felt the need of a platform that would help students looking for work, as well as companies who find it difficult to find people with the required skill sets. The initial two years were a rollercoaster ride for Sarvesh.

He handled everything alone and then started getting interns to help him work on the interface of Internshala. The biggest challenge he faced was building the technical team and figuring out a revenue model. After hiring a group of interns and brainstorming, they started generating revenue through advertisements. It was from here that the success story of Sarvesh Agrawal started.

About two years into Internshala, in 2015, they launched a training programme on their website for students to help them build on their skills. At a reasonable price, students could hone their skills and learn everything required, in a span of six weeks. This again was done to bridge the gap between students and employers and it thus boosted the self-esteem of students and helped them overcome their fear of not being good enough.

Around 4-5 lakh internships were posted on Internshala, last fiscal year and 80,000 companies are involved in this as well. One major plus point of Internshala is that all their internships come with a stipend, except the ones related to social service (NGOs). “We are targeting smaller cities as well. It has spread considerably in large cities. So, our main aim is to help students of the smaller and backward cities,” says Kavya, board member of Internshala.

Not only does Internshala provide students with internships but also helps them improve their application by sending them constant feedback via email.

Adding Discounts
Coming to Frapp, it is making India student-friendly by helping Indian students access opportunities throughout their student life. Globally, all students have a .edu ID that they can use for various benefits. So, why should the Indian students miss out? While Niranjan and Armaan, the founders of Frapp, were in college, they found it extremely difficult to find internships and get student discounts and that is when they thought of this idea.

Initially, the concept of student discounts was applicable for only 1-2 big brands. “We wanted to build a platform that bridges this gap and allows students to do more in this phase of their life. Millennials are a powerful and high impact market demographic. Today, over 1,000 brands have posted internships or student offers to our student base,” remarks Armaan.

Frapp also started out as a WordPress blog to test their concept before moving ahead with it. After receiving more than 1,000 sign-ups, in the first few days, they decided to make it big, by taking financial help from their family and friends. It is not easy doing something like this. The start-up world is full of challenges and one of their main issues was building the right tech team. It took them a while to get this in place but today Frapp has a team of four developers along with a tech lead.

“Personally, I have narrowed down my focus and role to ensure I dedicate most of my time on the product along with the tech team,” says the Founder. ‘Starting a company is expensive, much more than we had imagined!’

Frapp is the only company that does student verification in India and are in the process of opening up their verification for third parties such as large e-commerce websites. Frapp’s future endeavours - To take their product across the country and be relevant to the large student audience in India.

India has over 45 million students with an active internet connection! Increasing their presence and serving to students from all markets, is their main goal.

Apart from Frapp, you will certainly not find student discounts on any other platform. What makes Frapp different from any other website/app is their verification process helps students in India, who don't have student email accounts such as .edu, to access student benefits online. Their main focus is on internships that all kinds of students can apply for.

While Frapp does list specific roles and technical internships, it is trying to make internships more accessible to the general community and enabling fun digital internships, virtual roles, campus ambassador roles and simple task-based internships. Today, Frapp has provided 3,000 internships since they launched it on the app and have crossed the 500k app users mark!

By: Ishita Lamba

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