In Conversation With Vani Jain, SIAS Student and Entrepreneur

In Conversation With Vani Jain, SIAS Student and Entrepreneur

Vani Jain is a student at SIAS, Krea University, the Cohort of 2024. A young entrepreneur with passion for economics and business studies, Vani launched her own product called the Mystery Crate. With a goal to provide an engaging and entertaining digital detox to children, the design of the Mystery Crate also supports the development of cognitive, creative and problem solving skills. 

We asked Vani to take us through her entrepreneurial journey, from the genesis of her business idea, through both her ups and downs, to the most important lessons learnt. We found her propensity to create something new, entrepreneurial mindset, and a charming combination of hard work and optimism, truly inspiring. 

Vani, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

I always had the urge to do something on my own, instead of working for someone else. Besides, I was always fascinated by entrepreneurs around me. 

What is Mystery Crate, and how was the idea conceived?

Mystery Crate is a subscription product for 2–9 years old, where children receive a box every month with different activities. I saw my brother spending excessive amount of time online, and I was worried about its side effects on his health. So, I thought of taking away my mother’s worries by helping her and parents like her through creating a business module for children of this age category.  

What makes the Mystery Crate such a unique product?

Each box has 3–4 fun learning activities which keep the child engaged and create excitement while unboxing. The boxes are customised according to the age group and gender, which allows me to create specific boxes for the customers. Every crate is planned in such a way that it makes the kid think and develop one or more of skills such as critical thinking, cognitive, creative, adaptive and problem solving.

What makes the Mystery Crate such a unique product?

How do you manage your time between being a student and an entrepreneur?

I have created a schedule that prioritises college work on weekdays, with 30–60 minutes of business work. This enables me to dedicate my weekends completely to my Mystery Crate product. I make sure to not procrastinate, and I stick to my deadlines. And sometimes I work beforehand, to be prepared for any sudden large orders that I might receive. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a young entrepreneur?

There can be hurdles at each and every stage, starting from finding the right supplier and manufacturer, getting deliveries on time and bargaining for the right price. Elders initially treated me as a child and were not serious enough while working, but gradually I convinced them through my consistent orders. Finalising the exact box size and stickers for the box took me weeks, which delayed my launching date. However, the overall journey taught me business skills such as how to handle people with patience and respect, and it improved my designing skills and decision making. 

Who has supported you most in your entrepreneurial journey?

I joined the Young Entrepreneurship Academy, where I was assigned two mentors who taught me various components of a business and helped me formulate my business idea and execute it. 

Was there a particular moment of success that boosted your confidence in your venture?

Once I started my business, it took me a while to get my first order, and I started to loose my confidence. But when I got my first order, I felt like the happiest person on Earth. This boosted my confidence tremendously. Secondly, winning the 2nd position at the Investor’s Panel was an unbelievable experience for me — I believed in my business, and so did the investors. This strengthened my trust in my venture. 

What would you say to other young people who have a drive to start their own venture but do not know how?

You should choose a business that you are passionate about, so that even if you are tired and exhausted, you would still want to work on it at the end of the day. The excitement and joy that the business of your choice will bring to you are unparalleled. There is no restrain as to when you can start a business — if you want to be an entrepreneur, you should work on it every day and spend some time building your thoughts. You can begin by reading a few books or watching motivational videos. Just believe in yourself and your idea. It may take time to build it up, but if you are confident enough, then it will happen sooner or later. 

To connect with this young entrepreneur and to learn more about her product, the Mystery Crate, you can visit her Instagram page

With a vision to interweave policy making with digital well being, Amartya Sinha heads to Harris School of Public Policy

student work

Amartya Sinha hopes to remedy the complex challenges within the world of today that rally around digital wellbeing and data privacy. He aims to design policies, create awareness and encourage dialogue in relevance, a vision that has led him to the Master of Public Policy Programme at Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago.

When the acceptance offer came knocking

Amartya received the acceptance call from the School in April and for the first few minutes he couldn’t believe the news. “The feeling, in a single word, was ‘exhilarating’. I had finally gotten accepted to the top school of my choice and I didn’t need to worry. Once it sunk in, I started working on scholarships and other funding choices for the programme.”

Amartya had applied only to the colleges that ranked high in his list of choice and while he doesn’t recommend others to do the same, his efforts and judgment have paid him well. 

When asked on what he would suggest to future aspirants of higher studies, Amartya adds, “Start off by identifying what you exactly want to do. Figure out that career path, the right job and then retrace, and pick the right course as a means to that path. It’s okay to be confused and work towards clarity. I myself didn’t have much of a clue until the presentation that started it all.”

The session that started it all

“It all started with the presentation from Harris School of Public Policy, organised by the Career Service Office (CSO) at Krea in September.” Amartya believes that the session offered clarity and opened up his mind to the various options available that he could pursue. Amartya had applied and was accepted to multiple top universities and chose Harris School of Public Policy.

The vision for the future

Amartya aims to increase awareness about data privacy and design policies which are effective for digital wellbeing. He emphasises on how following his foray into the field and with the learnings gathered, he is much more conscious of his presence online and is careful about data sharing. While they may seem innocuous, our digital footprint can often lead to compromise of personal information. “We should be in control of our digital presence and wellbeing –  not the other way around.”

The Krea Journey

“Krea has been instrumental for my development and growth. I joined Krea because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and had an open mind to pick and choose everything.” Amartya’s path through Krea has been truly exploratory, meandering through various streams of study before zeroing in on what he really wished to focus on. He also believes that if he hadn’t been given this large choice of subjects and rare combinations to choose from, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“The process to choose the Major and Minor was very interesting. I explored everything, and even tried Literature though I quit after four classes. I then took up Economics as Major which was my default choice, and Social Studies as Minor; but later realised that I would like to do more on the Social Studies side with Economics as a Minor, along with a concentration in Politics.” 

Amartya tried and tested multiple choices before landing on the one he really wished to pursue, very true to the ethos that Krea academics is rooted in.

Assignments that steered the vision

The internships and assignments at Krea also helped Amartya foresee what his future goals would be. In the second year, Amartya worked as a Data Analyst for Prof John Mathew, with Kaustav Mehta and Ananya Raju on a research project focusing on impacts of SARS-CoV-2 in India using Spark NLP to make language detection pipelines for big data. “I hadn’t done any CS courses but I did programming for the project and it made me aware of the scope and reach of technology.”

Amartya has handled various initiatives over time that firmly hit home the fact that Krea is diverse, inclusive and the experience; holistic. He was the Tech Support for the Online KICs (Krea Immersion Case) and a Conversation Partner who helped freshers build proficiency in the English language. He also worked with the Admissions Team and prepared guides for the Tech Literacy Bridge Program aimed at helping students transition to basic online learning and tools.

“I believe Krea teaches you that you don’t necessarily need to have the skills to come in, you need to have the passion and then you take the path onwards.”

Amartya was also part of the Constituent Assembly, and was an Indoor Sports Representative for the Sports Committee. He also helped host three tournaments in Table Tennis, Foosball and Chess in the first year before the world evolved in response to COVID-19. He has also imparted Table Tennis lessons to fellow peers.

Faculty like friends

“The faculty at Krea form a fundamental part of the Krea experience. Professors are more like friends; you can just walk into their office and have a dialogue.” Amartya firmly believes that the bond shared between faculty and students at Krea is respectful and more of equity than coming from a place of authority. Amartya also shares gratitude towards a number of faculty members who helped him through the learning journey, including the clarity on the choice of Major and Minor, various assignments and internships and overall, in just being great mentors.

The Nostalgia Moment

Amartya has had various memorable moments interspersing his Krea journey but one of the most memorable highlights is his joining the choir in the first year.  “I always wanted to sing but knowing that I am not a good singer, this was my free ticket to saying I am one.”  Amartya was a bass singer and thanked Prof John for insisting that he join the choir. He has both performed and directed for the choir. 

How did Krea happen?

Amartya hails from Nalanda but has spent most of his life in Navi Mumbai. He believes he was a confused young man ( and still is) albeit powered with curiosity.  “If an idea pops up in my mind, I latch on to it and figure it out and this has led me to do various things like programming, video audio editing, photography, mountain biking and so on.”

Amartya found Krea in the year of the University’s inception and the KIC along with the holistic admissions process won him over to make the choice to choose Krea over other Liberal Education Schools and that’s where it all started.

Fuelled by passion for education and social impact, Aishwarya’s journey to Harris School of Public Policy

Fuelled by passion for education and social impact, Aishwarya’s journey to Harris School of Public Policy

Aishwarya Sivaramakrishnan, SIAS cohort of 2022 has secured an early action round acceptance to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) from the Harris School of Public Policy in the University of Chicago, along with a Harris Merit scholarship. Driven by her passion for education, social impact and effective policy making, Aishwarya intends on putting policy into practice and working with the government or NGOs in the field of education.

Aishwarya reflects on her journey through Krea and the vision she holds for the future.

The Call to the Future

“The call was a shock in itself; it was unexpected and exhilarating.” The acceptance news took Aishwarya by surprise, it was like a bolt out of the blue but definitely one that held immense joy.

“The MPP programme at Harris School of Public Policy has always been my top choice due to the heavy focus on data analysis and the multidisciplinary approach towards tackling real-world issues, similar to my undergraduate experience at Krea University.”

Aishwarya has also secured a Harris Merit scholarship and believes her summer internship experiences and externships at Teach for India, Centre for Policy Research, Rhapsody Music, and Aureolis Ventures have helped her expand interests and skills and laid down the path for where she is today.

The Vision, Passion and Determination

In the past three years, Aishwarya has had the opportunity to volunteer and pursue her internship with various policy advocacy groups that lobby for grassroots-level change in state-sponsored educational institutions.

“Since then, education policy and child rights have become my passion project, and I have worked extensively in the education space in India. This has given me an insight into the ground realities of primary education facilities, opening my eyes to the pressing need for changes in both curricula and infrastructure available to school-going children, especially in semi-urban and rural areas. Some of my most cherished, valuable experiences and life lessons are from this period of working with children and individuals from all walks of life, and they have shaped the person I am today.”

On completion of her studies, Aishwarya intends on putting policy into practice and working with the government or NGOs in the field of education.

The Krea Journey

Aishwarya fondly remembers her journey at Krea with a memory from day one, something that continues to stick with her even today.

“It was the first day and I was in my room and so was my roommate and so were our families, the entire area was abuzz with hellos and greetings, people were coming in and stepping out and it all felt comforting and familiar. It just felt right and Krea truly felt like home. It remains one of my most heartening experiences till date.”

Aishwarya has always been passionate about education, teaching and training, thanks to her mother who is a teacher. Though she also remarks that before stepping into Krea, she wasn’t so sure on her path forward and there was a huge possibility that she would have headed into the family run business.

Aishwarya ran for the position of Finance and Resources Representative in the first year at Krea and was part of the first student government. It being the very first year of Krea University also helped her play an instrumental role in building the student government and pushed her to try new things, meet new people, and make the most of her newfound independence.

When asked for a piece of advice to other Masters’ aspirants, Aishwarya adds, “I applied to the Harris School of Public Policy in October close to the deadline. And though I didn’t really plan much and got admitted to the very first school I applied; planning does help. There are times when we may not feel too confident and second guess our choices, but the key is to believe in oneself.” Aishwarya does believe firmly in taking chances.

An Economics major, while she believes that she was passionate about her vision, Krea opened up her mind and the various experiences helped her pave the way forward. The Interwoven Learning aspect helped her figure out her other interests, and how she could pair them best with Economics.

When it all clicked Her passion for impactful education was turned into a more determined drive in the first year and the internship, especially the one with Teach of India, was significant in the process. Over her UG years, Aishwarya has done various internships and online training stints which only helped her passion evolve further.

It was in the 2nd year and through a session hosted by the Career Services Office(CSO) for Harris School of Public Policy that helped Aishwarya zero in on her dream institution.

Interestingly, Harris School of Public Policy was her first and only college application and it all fell into place. “I applied during the Early Action round and this was helpful since I was able to get an early decision and plan ahead when it came to academics at Krea and moving to Chicago.”

While the undergraduate experience at SIAS, Krea University and the upcoming Masters at Harris School of Public Policy are pivotal milestones, they are only steps into the impactful journey that this young changemaker has embarked on.

Manvi’s Journey-From Krea University to Carnegie Mellon University

Manvi’s Journey-From Krea University to Carnegie Mellon University

Overwhelmed, exhilarated, excited, these are the three words Manvi uses to express her jubilance on the admittance offer from  Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science to the Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS). Manvi chose Computer Science Major at Krea, SIAS and has also been a Krea student ambassador. 

Manvi has always been a curious young student, and it all started as early as Grade 6 when she asked her mother what’s the best education she could receive, and the best university. With a desire to always experience the best in education, Manvi’s path took her through various milestones, one being Krea and now onto another at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Manvi has always been passionate for education and tech and views this as a stepping stone in her journey.

“I want to see how I can use the opportunities I receive to enhance my capacity to work for the greater good.”

Manvi Teki

Lessons from the journey for future aspirants

From her own personal experience, Manvi pulls out few pages for future graduates aiming at higher education

  • Believe in yourself and aim as high as you desire
  • Circumstances may make you feel less confident, but always know there is nothing impossible to achieve
  • Start your research in the 2nd year of Undergraduation
  • It’s an ocean of courses and specialisations out there, explore well but don’t get confused
  • Plan it well, also look for backup universities apart from your main ones
  • Be prepared, keep a good buffer for deadlines. E.g- If the application is due in December, attempt and close GRE by July.
  • Plan it all but do not over plan it, give yourself time to breathe

Pathway and Stepping Stones

The Internships

Manvi feels that all her internship experiences collectively helped her be where she is today. Right from the Teach for India experience in the middle of the pandemic to being a Tech Business Analyst at Minfy Technologies during the summer and a Tech Content Curator once she was rehired, it all were jigsaw pieces falling into place, through the skills learnt and the projects tackled.

One of the projects closest to her heart at Krea was her internship with IBM. “ We applied all the facts we had learnt into the project. We had to create a questionnaire using NLP technique to tap into human consciousness to gauge their learning style and the results were used on various IBM learning platforms. We used what we learnt in Computer Science, a course in Brain and Behaviour and Design Thinking. It was a reflection of my Krea journey itself, of applying things in your real life, truly interwoven.”

The Krea Experience

“Three years of interaction with the faculty and not just from the Department of Computer Science but all across really helped. Conversations play a subtle but important role in what you do and what you decide to do “

Manvi Teki

Manvi emphasises how the amalgamation of these inputs and exposure helped her shape her thoughts and choose her path forward.

Manvi didn’t step into Krea with a fixed mindset, she navigated the journey with open thoughts. But everything fell into place at Krea- the pattern of assignments, the coursework, and the midterms, among others. While a lot of students struggle a bit as they head to an international university, Manvi believes spending three years at Krea with a similar pattern gives her leverage. A jumpstart to a smooth transition.

“The whole research mindset, writing-intensive three years, helped me put into words my SOP. The skills I picked up through courses like Design Thinking have really helped. These have all molded me to adjust and adapt better, made me comfortable with the concept of uncertainty, which I do not fear anymore.”

The Co-curriculars

Manvi has always been one for extracurriculars and believes they help shape the mind and individual one is. “You don’t become you just because of academics. 70% of who I am today is not because of academics, what I learnt was out of classrooms how to speak, how to read emotional cues”, adds Manvi

Manvi aims to work in a space connecting humans with tech and even though she hasn’t done courses in Psychology but one, her time training in theatre has helped her understand social cues and the human psyche.

Way ahead

“Many people believe that creativity is in the Arts but there is creativity in Science too, the phone is a creative product.”

Manvi wants to create the most human designs possible using tech, ones that could help a large number of people. She aims to address the massive gap between advancements in technology to their translation to community and people. Her long term vision includes working for equity in education by ensuring tech reaches students across the social spectrum and in ways that can be utilised by them for learning.

Lekshmi Gopinathan
reports, from the Communications Desk

#TGOK – The Girls of Krea

#TGOK  – The Girls of Krea

Say hello to some of the young trailblazers at Krea

Five young girl students at Krea open up about their journey at Krea and trace their experiences through this incredibly diverse community. Coming from varied backgrounds, both educational and otherwise, their steadfast belief in diversity at Krea runs parallel across their stories. Tracing back to the day they stepped into Krea up until today, these bright young minds have paved their ways with indomitable spirit. Read more on their multifaceted evolution and that one encounter at Krea which spilled out of checked boxes and made them believe that Krea is truly diverse, that Krea’s home.

Chaarmikha Nagalla

Cohort of 2023, SIAS

When Chaarmikha stepped into Krea, she had plans set in stone, with an aim to pursue Computer Science and later move into a conventional IT career. But today, she is comfortable exploring further in these unpredictable times. Having stepped out of her comfort zone and having tried new things, she believes she has evolved into a self-aware individual with clarity of intentions.

Chaarmikha founded Girl Up Prerna in 2020, a club under the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign and the project is very close to her heart. The club has several activities and advocacy related to gender equality right from donation drives to awareness facilitation. “I started working on this in 2020 and it’s definitely a cause that I passionately work towards.”, adds Chaarmikha.

On diversity at Krea, she says, “Unity in diversity is definitely a line that applies to Krea. We’re all very different from each other but have the same value systems and morals. One instance of diversity that I remember well was during the finals week of the Literature and Arts course. We had to pick and explore the folklore of one language and one person had to research while the other two represented/ enacted and wrote. All of us came from different linguistic backgrounds and different skill sets and it was surreal to see such creativity in each of us.

Ameena Abbas

Cohort of 2023, SIAS

“I come from a part of the society where anyone with a background in science is expected to become a doctor or engineer. Krea was a turning point. It changed this notion for me and opened so many more avenues, I realised I could explore more than one subject at a time.”

In her Admissions essay, Ameena had strongly conveyed her intent to break away from the classic mould of being subservient to the other gender. Ameena was very sure of picking up Biology as her pathway to a career but the foundation courses at Krea made her realise that she wanted to choose Chemistry and that’s exactly what she did.

Experiences have punctuated Ameena’s journey at Krea and she counts on her two-month long internship with Led By Foundation, who empower young girls belonging to the minority community empowerment by providing them with real-life career skills, a supportive ecosystem, and access to the right opportunities and networks. Ameena found the opportunity transformational as it allowed her to work with girls her age and more, facing issues in the society that she too had undergone.

Speaking about diversity at Krea, Ameena says, “ The diverse cohort of students at Krea is something that stands out. Even having a roommate teaches one so much. Two people from different cultures, distinct ways of studying, varied point of views, these really have helped me become a better individual with an open mind.”

Maitri Modi

Cohort of 2022, SIAS

“ I come from a CBSE school with a science background with no exposure to Arts and Humanities. And then Krea happened, I realised how much I enjoyed these too. I think Krea helped me transform from a solo artist to a team player, the focus now is always on group growth and not just individual growth,” says Maitri.

Maitri believes that the Krea journey has allowed her to keep her core values and principles intact while she has become more grounded, stable and calm. She can now understand claims and differentiate evidence. Ethics has been a course that has stayed with her and thanks to the same, she is now pursuing a capstone thesis on data privacy and ethics.

Refreshingly, Maitri’s take on diversity at Krea brought forward a fun anecdote from her first year , “ I am a Gujarati and through the initial days at Krea I wouldn’t prefer rice as it was in stark contrast to my wheat-heavy diet. And then on occasions of Onam and Pongal my friends would enjoy the feast from a banana platter and having never eaten rice with hands myself,  I was introduced by these set of new entrants in my life to try it out (all backed by the science of why eating food by hand is beneficial). I am now a convert and love eating with my hands plus the sambar and chutney are my favorites. This, for me, was an eye-opener into the diversity that the Krea community holds.”

Maitri also set up a Food Bank at Krea during her first year where the surplus untouched food from the mess would go to an orphanage in the neighboring village of Sullurpeta. Maitri wished to do this on a much bigger scale involving the industrial units at Sri City until COVID brought everything to a halt.

Sai Avanthika

MBA Class of 2021, IFMR GSB

A national level tennis player, a classically trained singer and now a management leader in the making, Sai Avanthika looks forward to bringing a change no matter the chosen field.

Avanthika joined the class of MBA in the middle of COVID and the initial interactions were all virtual. “Though it was all online, everything was so thoughtful. Even our orientation ceremony ‘Prarambh’ was packed with industry level speakers, including our current Chief Economic Advisor, Dr Anantha Nageswaran. We had a really warm welcome at IFMR GSB.”

Avanthika is now back on campus and calls it one of the happiest experiences of her academic journey. Ruminating about her journey, Avanthika adds, “ I came in as a fresher, I had no corporate experience but the diverse environment at Krea has helped so much. My batch has peers from 23 states with varied work experience, across the genders and study backgrounds. I was a little nervous when it started but now I have grown into a more confident individual with more clarity and a keen overview of what awaits, what corporate life is going to be, thanks to all the exposure.”

Avanthika believes conversing and ideating with different people, who speak different languages and come with different perspectives because of how they grew up and their own experiences has opened up her mind to a different world.

“In terms of information, the knowledge of people’s struggles, really brings in a balanced mindset. Even in case analysis, this helps, the diverse backgrounds and how different everyone thinks.”

Since returning to campus, Avanthika enjoys going for late night walks through the serene paths traversing the campus with her friends, all of them coming from different regions of India, so distinct to her own self. They listen to music, talk, let out steam and call it a day. And the conversations in itself feel like a cultural exchange, diverse and inclusive.

The sports person in Avanthika appreciates how Krea encourages sports and the good sporting facilities available on campus. She foresees a great scope for expansion, “ I don’t see a lot of girls playing.  If I can bring about a change being a woman, if I could inspire more people to pick a sport and play with them, I would be happy. This is one of the reasons I joined the Sports Committee. I really look forward to bringing about a change in the way people perceive sports to be, they still look at it as a fun activity but it’s a way of life.”

Manvi Teki

Cohort of 2022, SIAS

As a young student, Manvi stepped in with a firm outlook on the ways of life and believes that the journey at Krea has been one of self discovery. “Life is not black n’ white, there is no right or wrong, the experiences at Krea taught me to actually understand, accept and look at things from various perspectives, that there is always more to something than meets the eye.”

Manvi believes the diverse interactions, be it with the professors, students, or support staff has been a powerful means of self-discovery, and has helped her shape her own world view.

Manvi celebrates the diversity and inclusiveness at Krea and reminisces one of the earliest incidents to drive the sentiment home, “I was in a class where we were having a  political debate about the way certain things should be. It was a class of 15 people and everybody had a different outlook to bring to the table based on their own life experiences, this spoke intricately about Krea as a community. This opens up our minds, gets the flap out of our eyes and forces us to look outside.”

Manvi has also been a Student Ambassador at Krea and worked closely with the Outreach and Admissions team. She looks back at her time as a young 17 year old, seeking answers and confused about college choices and feels that being a Student Ambassador was her way of paying forward, enabling students like herself to gain clarity. It also reminded her of the growth and change that she had gone through herself.

One of the projects closest to her heart at Krea was her internship with IBM. “ We applied all the facts we had learnt into the project. We had to create a questionnaire using NLP technique to tap into human consciousness to gauge their learning style and the results were used on various IBM learning platforms. We used what we learnt in Computer Science, a course in Brain and Behaviour and Design Thinking. It was a reflection of my Krea journey itself, of applying things in your real life, truly interwoven.”

All the way from south India to the United States to participate in the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2022

All the way from south India to the United States to participate in the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2022

Chennai, 01 February 2022: Sai Balaji, a sophomore at Krea University, majoring in Economics and minoring in Psychology recently got selected by The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations for the Harvard Conference which will be held from 18-21 February 2022 at the Harvard campus.

Originally from Chennai, 19-year-old Sai wears multiple hats within the University ecosystem. He is a Student Ambassador, Research Assistant, Club Representative of the Social Outreach Club “Aikyatha” and is a Content Manager for the University Newspaper “Tapestry” alongside his academics. 

Obviously excited with the opportunity to be a part of HPAIR, Sai says, “This is a fantastic platform for me. I truly believe that the overall ecosystem at Krea re-kindled the childlike curiosity within me to constantly ask questions about the various aspects of social, political, and economic issues in the 21st century. The faculty, peer group, and the overall learning culture at KREA, have played a vital role in my selection for HPAIR 2022.” 

Every Harvard Conference serves to create meaningful dialogue regarding the current socio-economic and political landscape across the globe. Speaking about what he is most excited about Sai says, “This conference gives the opportunity for me to interact with a diverse range of people and speakers.” Sai’s role specifically is to voice his views and share his knowledge with fellow delegates attending the conference. The responsibilities post the conference would mean how individuals who are a part of the conference attempt to Implement these learnings in their research and to focus on making an impact on the world with it.

The mission of HPAIR is to connect the top leaders of today and tomorrow in a dynamic forum of exchange. The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) was founded in 1991 to create a forum of exchange for students and young professionals to discuss and learn about the most important economic, political, and social issues facing the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1991, HPAIR has organized 43 conferences in 12 different host countries, touching the lives of more than 10,000 students and young professionals. HPAIR hosts two student-led conferences a year – one on Harvard’s campus and the other in the Asia-Pacific. Prospective host cities in Asia must undergo an intensive, six-month bidding process; this year’s Asia Conference will be held in Nur-Sultan, HPAIR’s first conference in Central Asia. HPAIR conferences feature world-class speakers and guests to foster mentorship, networking, and guidance opportunities for delegates.

Two SIAS students set to create TURNIP- a venture idea validated by Venture Capitalists

Two SIAS students set to create TURNIP- a venture idea validated by Venture Capitalists

Thrilled and raring to go, Aditi Rajesh and Mitul Aggarwal, 2nd year undergraduate students at SIAS, Krea University, are all set to work on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for their venture TURNIP, an idea that was witnessed and validated by noted Venture Capitalists in the country, including Sunil Cavale and Sanjay Selvan (Speciale Invest), Praveen Sridharan (TVS Capital Funds) and Nihir Nemani (Emerald India).

So, what’s TURNIP?

“It’s a peer-to-peer learning network which seeks to make learning interesting. It aims to facilitate learning through conversations,” says Aditi.

“In short, it’s a networking platform focused on learning,” adds Mitul.

In a conversation with the Communications Team at Krea, these young minds opened up about the experience of pitching their idea to potential investors, and how the elective ‘Creative Economy’ by Prof Anil Srinivasan acted as a catalyst to the creation of TURNIP.

“Prof Srinivasan’s course has been a pillar for the Interwoven Learning Experience. A very well-structured course, there are theory classes and then industry-based sessions giving us a chance to implement learning from the classroom into real life. It’s very practical and hands on. The course in Creative Economy led us to start TURNIP. It gave us the push and the reason to work on something new. Prof Srinivasan provided us the experience of pitching to real-world investors and it really inspired us to take it further”, they added.

Aditi and Mitul are fine-tuning the idea and will be progressing to the research and development phase, in the coming weeks. Even before TURNIP, Aditi and Mitul were well on their way on the entrepreneurial journey. Aditi most recently launched Inturn, a platform that aims to connect students looking for internships/volunteer work for student-led organisations. Mitul is the co-founder of Inagiffy, a communications agency curating and creating accessible and aesthetic content to make global communication more seamless and easier.

SIAS student conducts a skill development workshop for UG students at Kalasa

SIAS student conducts a skill development workshop for UG students at Kalasa

Shreyasi Patil (they/she), a 3rd year SIAS student at Krea, worked with the Skill Development Office of Chikkamagaluru and Srinidhi Gurunath, MGN Fellow, to conduct a soft skills and design thinking workshop for final year degree students about tackling problems of rural Malnad area.

The one-day interactive design thinking workshop was conducted at GFGC Kalasa, with the final year BCom and BA students aiming to promote soft skills and entrepreneurial values among them.

“The Design Thinking workshop was used to identify problems specific to the Malnad region and why entrepreneurship isn’t developing in the area. Especially in  Chikkamagaluru, which is well known but mostly for tourism.”

Emphasising on what contributed to a seamless building of the workshop, Shreyasi added, “ At Krea, we have a course in the 1st year on Design Thinking and in the 2nd year we have a course named Creative Economy where we build our own company and pitch in front of real life Venture Capitalists at the end of three months. Along with these I have also been part of the TiE – Young Entrepreneurs Chapter where we represented India and won the second position. All these factors together helped me plan the one day workshop.”

Kalasa is a taluk, located deep within Chikkamagaluru. “We had no clue how remote Kalasa was. A couple of government buses ply in this region and some students have to walk 6-7 kilometers each day to reach their schools. The heavy monsoons also create havoc and the students and teachers usually aren’t able to make it to the institutes in such conditions. Added to it the weak internet connectivity, the education of most students at Kalasa are hindered.”

The workshop revolved around combating these issues that the students faced in their everyday lives. They worked through the process of identifying problems, empathising, building solutions and testing the solutions – a reality check on how viable it would be if one were to implement the same.

There were around eight problems which were identified and solutions proposed. The students wrapped up the workshop with solutions like setting up a customer service team which would work as a liaison between rural places in Malnad and the telecom companies. Another suggested a bus for the safety of girl students, as many of them dropped out of school and colleges and got married early because of the lack of efficient transport systems.

Shreyasi has been training and teaching students from a very young age. Yet, teaching and training peers and young adults of their own age was led by their experience at Krea.

 “I was comfortable training younger students, but at Krea, the student experience facilitated by being an extracurricular representative had an impact. I have been able to take up the challenges of teaching people my age. Now I know the vocabulary for it, having the right language and presentation is important. Two years of college at Krea have done to me what years of training by myself couldn’t. College has given me the language to present what I really believe in.”

Shreyasi also trains school students in gender studies through the medium of theatre. On completion of their under graduation, they plan to travel across India and teach gender studies to students across demographics, using theatre. Shreyasi hopes to pursue their future goals in the intersection of art, education and entrepreneurship.