A hostel-room chat on what was everyone upto this summer at the internship sparked the idea of www.themauka.com. A startup by three students of Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, Hyderabad campus, the one-year-old portal promises to bring together students looking for an internship and industries on a common platform. In vice-president G Varun Reddy’s words, it is all about “developing an opportunity for students to access openings in industries across the platform.”
The company is ready to launch its new product for freshers seeking employment in September. “It will be a natural progression for the website to move from being a portal which provided opportunities for internship to a one-stop-shop for possible placements,” explains Reddy. It took the trio of integrated chemical engineering at BITS a session of brainstorming to arrive at the idea and seven months of market research and product development to launch the beta version in March 2011.
“After completing the Practice School 2 or the second year internship as it is known, we had a discussion on how many colleges that do not have access to good summer internship opportunities. A lot of campaigning across colleges and corporates to research the size of the market helped us zero-in on a real life problem we would be addressing through the venture,” says Santosh Yellajosula, one of the co-founders of Mauka and a final-year integrated MS student of BITS. The market research involved college promotions and approaching companies to join on-board for the pilot project.
“The flexible college timings helped us carry on with the research. Also, the BITS alumni opened a few doors for us as did other startups who were keen to take interns for cost-cutting measures. Plus, students always learn more at startups,” adds Abhiram Muddu, co-founder and vice-president of corporate partnerships. The pilot launch had a tie-up with 15 colleges and more than 40 corporates including a few Fortune 500 and 200 companies participated.
Starting with the pitch for facilitating student-corporate interaction for internships, they have so far helped 75 students, including two from University of South California, USA. For their new product launch, they plan to renew their partnerships with colleges. “The package includes inputs from industry experts, such as interviews which tell the students on what exactly are the companies looking for in a potential candidate. Industry-ready candidates from the existing system of education will increase their chances of placement. Colleges can subscribe to the service to provide complete access to their students. Further, corporates can join us and they need to pay a subscription for connecting through the potential employees,” says Varun about the placement facilitation to be launched. The module also provides an interface for conducting assessment tests as the preliminary round of screening for companies interested in hiring the candidates. “It saves the companies the cost for branding and promotions during campus placements and the assessments helps in shortlisting the candidates directly for the interviews,” says Santosh.
Mauka received funding, tech-support and space from NorthAlley (India) Private Limited in December 2011. “We hope to break even in 18 to 20 months of the launch of our new product,” says Varun. Mauka also plans to reach a wider user-base across rural colleges ■