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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Madhumita Agrawal Shares How She Helps Other Companies Ideate And Innovate

  • IWB Post
  •  September 16, 2019

Having studied law and technology, Madhumita Agrawal started her journey in IP services and later decided to start her own venture in the same field. She began IPexcel Services, a technology research and consulting company, to promote outside-the-box thinking. She aims to help clients achieve a competitive advantage in today’s markets.

She has helped multiple companies in developing and growing their business through innovative ideas and processes. Madhumita is also the Secretary for the IIT Kharagpur Alumni Association. We asked her about business techniques, creating the right team and how can we do it all. Excerpts:

One of your services is idea generation, please tell us something about that.

Idea generation service is for companies/clients who want to develop a new technology or have an original idea for an existing technology. We start with defining the problem, evaluating the solutions that already exist in the market and examining the innovativeness of the concept. We provide insights to the client after doing all the research which in turn helps them to innovate their idea further.

You provide a wide range of services. Are there any other players in the market with the same business proposition? What’s your differentiating factor?

Yes, there are many such players in the market. Our differentiating factor is our team. We have people who have in-depth research knowledge, and we function as an R&D house and not merely like a consultancy. Since R&D is the driving force in the tech world that’s what we leverage on.

The team is one of the factors considered by investors to evaluate the startup, do you think having a Tier-1 B-school name in your portfolio is essential?

I won’t deny that it does help in branding your startup but at the end of the day, consumers are only concerned about your product and its efficiency, not the name of the institution. So it might help you to garner attention from investors initially but after that your services/products and deliverables are the only things that will matter to them.

There’s a sudden boom in the number of tech startups since the last few years. What are some common problems that these startups are facing?

One common problem that I have come across while working with tech startups is that they focus majorly on getting the funds or investment. I realize that funds are essential, but there should be more thought going to plan the execution and the business model as well. Startups need to have a plan to utilize their funds and investor’s money because planning is highly underrated and it’s time that startups must make it a priority.

Would you suggest bootstrapping first and then later looking for funding?

I’d suggest bootstrap your idea and launch a prototype or something and conduct some market validation with your customers. Once you get feedback from your customers, define your TG and revamp or upgrade the product/idea according to your customer’s requirements. I’d suggest all the startups to start looking for funding only after proper idea validation.

Data science is gaining a lot of momentum these days, which industries can benefit from data science? Is it hyped a lot these days?

Data science is jargon for analysis of massive sets of data. Data analysis is not a new concept and has been happening for ages. Data science doesn’t have any limitations concerning industries where it could be applied because every sector will have some data which needs to be analyzed to gain insights. Also, it is definitely hyped because it’s not a new concept and we had data scientists even before the buzz was created.

How should the education system be aligned to encourage entrepreneurship?

I think a lot of initiatives have started to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship. For example, college events these days have at least one contest focused on bringing or building new ideas which was not the case when I was in college. Some premiere institutions are also offering a course on entrepreneurship, and I think that’s something even state universities and colleges must do.

There’s a new concept called social enterprises. Do you think tech entrepreneurs can venture into this and start technology-enabled social enterprises?

There are many tech-enabled social enterprises out there. For example, there’s one entrepreneur making iron balls to mix in water for iron deficient rural population and there’s another startup called TrashCon which is focusing on effective waste management with the help of technology. Crowdsourcing platforms for social causes are also an excellent example of how technology is used for solving social issues.

Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey, if given a second chance tell us one thing that you would have done differently?

I might have become a civil services officer instead of an entrepreneur. I always wanted to be on-ground to make an impact and getting into civil services might have helped me to do so.

Can you tell us about some important time management skills?

Here, I would like to draw an inference from one of the things Indra Nooyi had mentioned in her speech. She said you have to ‘cope up’ no matter what if you want to succeed and manage your time, family, and everything else. I certainly believe that time management is not a choice and we have to ‘cope up,’ and that definitely doesn’t require any extraordinary skills. Also, I have a physically challenged kid and I have to manage and make time for everyone and everything in my life.

Is it difficult to raise a physically-challenged child in our society?

I think society will start sympathizing only if the parent or family does so. I don’t let anyone sympathize because it’s not a sad part of my life and I deal with my child’s disability in a very normal way. I think all the parents with a disabled kid must do so because that will help the kid as well to stay strong and feel strong. I do have to take care of him or need someone to take care of him at home but that’s not difficult and with a supportive family the job becomes even easier.

Tell us about one activity that you pursue to de-stress yourself or unwind at the end of busy day.

I play badminton and listen to music to unwind. I love partying with my friends and that surely helps me to unwind from a busy day.

Which new industries or areas should budding tech entrepreneurs look at for new opportunities?

Artificial Intelligence, Virtual reality, and Bitcoin are some new avenues for budding tech entrepreneurs. Also, healthcare sector holds a lot of untapped opportunities where tech entrepreneurs can innovate and fill the gaps.

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