Making of future entrepreneurs

Making of future entrepreneurs

Start-up project

It was in December 2015 when five students started working on their start-up project PeekaBook, an e-commerce platform for second hand books, which has now made them the global winners of ‘European Union Future Young Entrepreneurs Competition’, which was held in Berlin.

The week-long competition saw participation of 210 students in the age group of 15-18 years, from other countries like Indonesia, Malawi, Netherlands, Romania,
Vietnam and Germany. Represent India on the global platform with their business model were Ansh Aggarwal, Manan Rai, Medha Mathur, Nikkhil Kalia, and Yash
Gupta from Amity School, Pushp Vihar.

“We were selected to represent our school after extensive interviews in school post which we had two more rounds at the national level. We then had the finals in Berlin for which we sent an immaculate business deck beforehand. The last leg of the competition was in form of a two-minute elevator pitch on the finale ‘Pitch Perfect: Who will make it to the top?’” says Aggarwal, whose role is of the chief finance officer of PeekaBook.

Mathur, company’s chief customer officer, adds, “The competition we faced at the national level and international level exceeded our expectations. We learnt a lot from teams from other countries during the workshop week at Berlin. The teams from Vietnam and Romania were particularly very well prepared. They had interesting yet practical ideas and were close competition.”

PeekaBook gathers second-hand books from retailers in Delhi on a common online marketplace, thereby facilitating the exchange of books between retailers and buyers, who currently do not have access to a variety of second-hand books. It specialises mostly in academic books and targets students who struggle to find cheap books. “The project tries to cut down average annual expenditure of an Indian on books from Rs 6,000 to Rs 3,000,” informs Mathur.

But why did they choose to deal with second-hand books only? Gupta, the chief digital operations officer of PeekaBook, responsible for technology and research and development in the company, says, “Just when the team was debating on various ideas, one of our teachers suggested brainstorming on a business model which would deal with second hand books. Through our pilot conducted in June, we found that customers face problems of unaffordability to purchase first-hand books,inaccessibility of second-hand books, and non-availability of variety in second-hand books, as these books are supplied by small scale proprietors located in hubs.”

“We realised that there existed a need for our business, and that we could offer value to both customers and its retailers by organising a traditionally unorganised
sector,” he adds.

The students took various workshops with entrepreneurs, industry veterans and other professionals including venture capitalists, that were organised by their school. They also interned at three different places to gain relevant practical experience.

Rai, the chief technology officer of the company, attended a month-long entrepreneurship summer camp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA. “There I learnt the nuances of starting a business to pitching to investors when the business plan is ready. I was also able to start Ordyr, another start-up aiming to reduce restaurant wait-times,” he says.

Gupta interned at Dorling Kindersley, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, a publishing house to gain knowledge about the digital operations and programming websites. Whereas, Aggarwal, Mathur and Kalia interned at Tagon.com, an online book store that carries out offline sales from Lakshmi Book Store in Janpath. There they got insight on how the companies in the book industry function, the processes of inventory management, delivery of ordered books as well as revenue collection.

PeekaBook has received aid from a German company Door-to-Door which will help them launch their project completely. Initially, it will be launched in Delhi-NCR, and will later expand to cities like Kota and Pune which are considered as a hub for the high school students and universities.

“Working on this project has expanded our horizon and given us deep insight into the business world. Even though some of us might not opt for a job in the business world, but the vast knowledge we received will help us in the future no matter which field we choose because apart from transforming us into young entrepreneurs, it has transformed us into better human beings,” concludes Kalia.

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