Winning at Home and Abroad
May 8, 2012
School of Arts and Sciences, Amritapuri
Management is a practice where arts, science and crafts meet.
This adage came to life when a team of three students, Hardik Bhate, Michael Darling and Philip Garcia, won the second prize of $10,000 in a Technology Business Plan competition, organized by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
Hardik Bhate is final-year student of the Amrita School of Arts and Sciences, enrolled in the Bachelor for Business Management (BBM) program. Currently an exchange student at the University of New Mexico, he teamed up with Michael and Philip, undergraduate students of engineering at the American campus.
The trio brought together arts and science to craft a unique solution, SpeakEasy, for the differently-abled. The app (application) is made for the Android platform and meant to be used on Amazon’s Kindle device.
“The app currently provides supports for people with a speech disability, but we are expanding and researching so that the solution can also cater to people who are visually or hearing impaired,” shared Hardik.
Without divulging too many competitor details, he shared the group’s motivation for creating the app.
“The idea came because although some devices and applications exist for differently-abled people, they are very expensive. Our goal was to create an innovative solution that was also affordable and easy-to-use. A similar kind of app is available for $ 200 in the market. Ours is better technically and we plan to charge only $ 35 in this niche market.”
The team wants to commercialize their venture and make their app available on amazon.com. In fact, the two American students have already registered a company. Hardik is not yet part of the company, since he is planning to return to Amritapuri in May.
Hardik worked on the detailed business plan as part of the winning team, focusing on the major financials for the competition.
“We projected a startup capital of $ 40,000 only. Judges included many venture capitalists such as those from New Mexico Angels, Sun Mountain Capital and Bioprocess Diagnostics. When we presented, we were asked tough questions regarding our business model. But our answers satisfied the judges. Our low product pricing will be accompanied by an additional $5 for every add-on.”
Hardik, Michael and Philip formed the only team of undergraduate students who competed. Other teams included either MBA or PhD students. Most of the students on the other teams had prior work experience, as well.
“All three of us were very busy with class presentations and final exams, yet we somehow made the time for this. I am glad to see that our efforts were so well recognized,” Hardik said.
Hardik had a message for his classmates and junior students. “Folks, be cool and not hyper. Communication is the key. If you can speak and justify what you do, no one can stop you and you will achieve all the best. But, here, never get confused with having an over-confident attitude. Rather have the mind to accept a critique and learn and improve constantly.”