The entrepreneurial spark in 28-year-old Subhendu Panigrahi was lit years ago when he was coordinator for the e-cell at IIT-Kharagpur for four years. It was a good platform to stay in touch with a number of startups and investors. After graduating in agricultural and food engineering in 2010, he joined a startup in the US, which had been founded by one of his college seniors. The company made RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) products to track the quality and freshness of perishable goods.
Given his wide network, Subhendu soon became the go-to-guy for startups looking for all kind of advice, and he spent some time to form a platform to connect his friends to potential investors. He moved to India after two years in the US to start Innovation Angels in 2011. This is around the time that Rajesh Rai of the India Innovation Fund introduced him to Prashant Koirala, an investment banker-turned-entrepreneur, who was also looking out for entrepreneurial opportunities. Venture Hire was started with the idea of connecting startups with high calibre developers (or hackers in geek parlance) that were in perennial need. They wanted to expose such people to companies that they may not otherwise uncover, mostly venture-backed companies in the early stage or stealth mode. He co-founded Venture Hire in June 2012 with Prashant who graduated from University of Maryland, USA, in 2005.
“The initial website was developed quick and dirty using Wordpress,” explains Subhendu, who grew up near the Hirakud Dam in Odisha. “All the design work was done in-house, including the logo of the company,” he avers. There was an acute shortage of good talent, and Venture Hire decided to start a training division in May this year, to up-skill jobseekers and give them better opportunities through Venturesity. Popular courses include courses on digital marketing, big data analytics and android app development. This was the start of Venturesity.
It is now working towards being an online university to fix the talent crunch problem faced globally. Subject matter experts and industry practitioners lead live online classes. Students are graded after the course and connected to opportunities like jobs and internships. They sometimes keep selection criteria for some of the courses to ensure commitment from students and to retain good teachers. This ensures good quality. Some of the faculty also recruit students for their own ventures and include industry veterans from companies like Microsoft Research, Google and eBay who are experts in their respective fields.
The writer is an entrepreneur in the e-learning domain