NIT Jamshedpur to City Lead, Startup Saturday Bangalore – Inspiring Story of Prashant Sharma

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Prashant Kumar Sharma

Prashant Sharma

Inspirational Stories not only make a good read, but somewhere deep down they bring out the confidence that anything done with passion and ultimate goal of creating value will always meet with awesome results.  With this post, we start our series of ‘Ecosystem Heroes’, where we bring an inspirational story from Indian Startup Ecosystem to get them their due share of recognition and to inspire ourselves and our readers alike.

Meet Prashant Sharma, City Lead for Startup Saturday Bangalore. At 24, he has many credits to his name.  I get  into a hour long conversation with Prashant to understand how things worked out for and his journey so far. Recently, Prashant has been selected for ‘ Draper University’ and has been awarded a scholarship of USD 3500.

 The Beginnings

I am a NIT Jamshedpur graduate in 2012. In 2nd year( 2009-2010) , we formed the team ( majority juniors and 2 seniors). I used to be the manager of the team & sponsorships. We started building a super mileage vehicle and wanted to represent India at SAE Super Mileage Michigan and Shell Eco Marathon Malaysia.

We did finish the vehicle due to one major sponsorship, but did not manage to get any more to actually go and showcase our work. Sponsorships did not come in, and we did not receive enough financial support from our college. It was a terrific failure, we all were shattered.

In the next year(2010-2011), we built another super mileage vehicle and were determined to go to the events.  I took charge of  the sponsorship and we had 15 sponsors for our team, including the TATA Group. I visited 400 companies in Jamshedpur personally and explained what our team was doing and manage to strike the sponsorship deals. Our team and vehicles did manage to attend the June 2011 event in USA and Malaysia in July 2011. When I was in final year, we mentored the team which build super mileage vehicle , and helped them with all sorts of issues.

The entire super mileage initiatives opened me up as a person, who could actually do things in life and learn. In final year, we started 2 initiatives. One of them was  hercanvas, focusing on Indian Women.  That was the time, I came across all the Startup Support Groups, Events and all the activity happening in Indian Startup Scene.  The platform didn’t work out  because our team moved out to their places after college, and we could not continue the momentum. In hindsight, I also think that we did startup because it was ‘cool’ to startup, and it failed for very obvious reasons.

I decided to take up MuSigma offer and move to Bangalore. Had made up my mind to be in the Startup Ecosystem and learn from it, and contribute my bit.

The HeadStart Journey

A day after I landed in Bangalore, I met Amit Singh, Co-founder & Director HeadStart and joined as a volunteer for Startup Saturday Bangalore. From June to October, I was a regular volunteer, mainly handling administrative and logistic issues related to the events. While MuSigma is the best place to be, I wanted to have some time for myself. Having the experience of handling things in College, I did have the confidence of risking things at this point and do the things I wanted to do.

In the 4 months of joblessness, I put in all my efforts to make the Startup Saturdays very engaging and full of value to the entrepreneurs. When HeadStart Higher event happened in October, a lot of responsibilities were entrusted for the first time, and the event turned out really well.  That was the turning point, and I begun involving at a deeper level at Startup Saturday events.

Started working as a consultant at Marketelligent since Jan 2013, and engaging audience at Startup Saturdays as a host.  The big opportunity striked me in Feb 2013, when Amit had to go out of town and asked me to handle Startup Saturday all alone – end to end, right from planning the theme, inviting the speakers, arranging the venue and hosting the event.  February edition was on Funding, and I had to host some eminent investors to an audience of 150 people. We were only 2 volunteers running the show. The event was a great success. The February Edition helped to prove my potential and I have been leading Startup Saturday from February till date.

From Feb 2013 – Every month we have grown big. We have been doing Startup Saturday based on themes and are inspired by creating value.  Because of the work I did for the past 1 and half year, I try and make connections for entrepreneurs wherever possible, and people are very appreciative of this fact. Somewhere down the line,  people have associated ‘HeadStart Bangalore’ with me, and it gives immense satisfaction to look back and see the value we have been able to create to entrepreneurs through Startup Saturday Events.

Now, Startup Saturday has a team of 8 people, all of whom are handpicked and trained with patience.  My vision for Startup Saturday is to build a team that is so structured, that we can handle events of much bigger scale with perfection and passion.

The Adventures and Events

While I kept at Startup Saturday,  Jagriti Yatra happened in Dec 2012.  It is one of the best experiences of my life, and the kind of opportunities it opens up the entrepreneurs is amazing.  One more International Event that I attended in August this year is Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations as a delegate in ‘Entrepreneur’ category(Dubai).  This event helped me to interact with some of the best people in that domain.

My work at HeadStart Bangalore did help me get sponsorships from eminent entrepreneurs for both Jagriti Yatra and HPAIR project. Being associated with Startup Saturdays and be able to do some amazing work with my team, it has helped me grow immensely personally and professionally.

I have been selected to attend HPAIR Harvard Conference in Feb 2014 in US in the ‘Entrepreneur’ category,  as one among the 300 people across the globe.  But, the biggest news has to be this : Getting selected for Draper University to get trained by Tim Draper in a six week course on every aspect of running the enterprise. I did get a scholarship of USD 3500, but still have to arrange USD 4000 for my travel to Draper University.

Here is my earnest appeal for sponsorships :

I have already been offered a Scholarship of USD 3500 to attend the “Draper University” and need to get along with arranging another USD 4000 in coming 20 days time. If you are reading this and can help me in my endeavour to fulfil my dreams by helping me raise the required money, I will be glad beyond imagination. Please do get in touch with me at :- Prashant.Sharma@headstart.in for any information or if you would like to help me in my endeavour.

Closing Notes

Be a volunteer at Grass Root Organizations, build your network before you need it.

Give before You Receive.

Do the Job at Hand the best you can.  Keep your intentions clean.

When applying for any conference, have clarity of thought and confidence.

Prashant signs off by giving me the above suggestions during various parts of the Interview, and I completely go with the first one – being in a grass root organization like HeadStart will give you a steady head start.

We hope this post inspires more people to join the grass root organizations in India and contribute to the eco-system, while taking away more than they give.