In February this year, when COVID rules were being relaxed as life appeared to have returned to normalcy, the AAP-led government implemented a pilot version of their 'seed money project' titled Business Blaster Program (BBP) under the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) at the School of Excellence (SoE), Khichripur.
As per the officials, a total of 21 groups thought of start-up ideas. The best nine ideas were selected, and around these nine groups were formed with 41 Class 11 students. Each group received a seed funding of Rs 1,000 from the state government.
But the second wave abruptly halted all projects by the budding entrepreneurs, when Lockdown 5.0 was imposed because the students could not go on-field to materialise their ideas.
From the 41 students, the majority came from economically backward families. Due to COVID-19, the nine groups faced challenges, from loved ones testing positive to the dearth of material resources due to markets being shut.
But the students preserved on and promoted their businesses on social media sites to successfully rake in customers, earning anywhere between Rs 4,000-Rs 24,000 with just Rs 1,000 seed money. Kiran Bala, EMC Coordinator, English teacher at SoE Khichdipur, says that the project aims to enhance students' entrepreneurial mindset by letting them tap into their passions, identify opportunities, plan and execute their learnings, and even rise from their failures.
After successful results of this pilot project, the Delhi Government recently implemented BBP in all government schools, where each student will received Rs 2,000 seed money to launch their business. Here's a gist of the nine exemplary projects that have motivated students across the city to embrace entrepreneurship from early on.
Khushi Rani and Muskan Soni create handmade jewellery such as earrings, necklaces, anklets and studs, via their start-up Craft Cottage. "While growing up in the Seelampur area of trans-Yamuna, I watched the people here make embroidery designs and artificial jewellery. I developed an interest in this industry, and now I want to open my own export company," says Soni.
In April, her father suffered a heart attack and had to be hospitalised, and overnight, she had to run his shop on spices and manage her start-up simultaneously. "It was peak-COVID, and there was no market for jewellery as it is not essential item," he said.
Even Rani, who runs the business from Mayur Vihar, faced challenges. Her family is not well-to-do; her father puts up clothes' stalls at the weekly market, and her mother is a housewife. Rani gives tuition classes and uses the money to buy books and study materials. But in the second wave, her parents did not let her venture outdoors.
"I tried to promote the business among friends in the neighbourhood, but they said, 'what will we do with these earrings when we don't have food to eat?' After getting zero offline orders, I promoted the business on Facebook and Instagram, and gradually the orders are pouring in. I want to expand this business and support my family," says Rani, whose future goals include pursuing Political Science (with honours) and UPSC thereafter.
Profit Rs 2,000
Members: Khushi Rani, Muskan Soni
Tap and Draw
"I wanted to help out my family financially, but never found the time with my studies. So, I used to sketch portraits – which I am quite good at – to meet my own expenses like buying books, pen and notes. But, when the project was announced, I proposed this as a business idea," said Soni, core member and artist of start-up Tap and Draw.
The team also consists of Mayank, Vipul, Sakshi and Rahul, which is two artists and three others who handle social media, sales and marketing and accounting.
"The major challenge was the time when my father tested positive and soon after had a heart attack. During that time, my sister and I ran his small stores of his own masalas, and also worked on our business. Then, Mayank got COVID positive, and Vipul's grandfather died. But social media helped us a lot. We made Insta reels of our work for a wider reach. Gradually, we started receiving orders even from outstation. Our starting price is Rs 250 for mugshot portraits," said Soni, whose art has also been appreciated by celebrity artist Wajid Khan.
"We work in our free time and at night because boards are also coming. Managing both studies and business is not easy but I enjoy making sketches. Our plan is to open art gallery and institute to provide art classes to the marginalised. For the time, we plan to rope in more artists and have an exhibition."
Profit Rs 20,000
Seed money: Rs 5,000
Member: Abhishek Soni
Minni, a Class 12 student of Humanities used to be an introvert and suffered from stage fright. But this BBP, she says, made her confident to make her hobby into a successful start-up - Divine Creations that makes artworks in Madhubani, Warli and Kalamkari.
"I am good at painting and drawing, and with my partner presented the idea of making and selling the drawings. It looked like easy homework, but we soon realised how difficult it is to run a business, and create network and market base. Also personally, I did not get much support from my parents for whom studies come first," says Minni, an aspiring fashion designer.
"In the beginning, we did not even sell a piece. I felt like backing out but the mentors explained this was just a phase. Slowly, the project picked up in August-September. With our exams approaching, we will hire two-three women who can run the business in our absence," she says.
Profit Rs 26,550
Seed money: Rs 2,000
Members: Minni, Divyanshi Chitranshi
"We are all science students, and wanted to create a product using the techniques we are studying. That's why we thought of eco-friendly, Bluetooth speaker sets," said Yash Gupta, core member from Shanti Mohalla. At first, the lockdown put a spoke in their schedule as hardware stores were shut.
"It was not easy even when markets reopened. As per the findings of a survey we conducted, we purchased the desired spare parts. Our Bluetooth devices have data cable and plugin for earphones and radio connectivity. Speaksters are made from wood, and can be opened unlike the usual plastic speakers that cannot," informs Gupta.
The boys in the group buy spare parts, make the Speaksters and organise delivery, while the girls manage social media, marketing, sales and accounting. "We priced the product low, at 1299, because our current focus is to network and popularise it. We already got orders from Madhya Pradesh, Patna, Rajasthan!" informs Gupta.
Profit Rs 1,200
Sukh Sagar, a Science student, learnt how to repair mobiles and headphones while spending his free time at his friend's mobile repairing shop. That skill came handy with this start-up idea for the BBP.
"When the online classes started, many children in my class, did not have access to mobile phones. I initially thought of pitching a mobile repairing idea, but already there's a whole Gaffar Market in Delhi. So, my brother said, why not refurbish old mobile phones and sell them at low prices that everyone can afford. Our idea was selected," said Sagar.
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Despite a team member meeting with an accident, and his own father falling grievously ill, Sagar trudged on with support from his school mentors. "We made an Instagram page and promoted reel videos of our work online. So, far I have refurbished and sold 10 old mobile sets. Recently, we received an order from Rajasthan," says Sagar, an aspiring doctor.
Profit Rs 24,000
Seed money Rs 8,000
Home 2 Creations
This start-up runs two projects; one is a line of accessories - wall hangings, key chains, knit and loom bags - and the other is chocolates. However, the latter is gaining more traction.
Sakshi Jha, who lives in Trilokpuri, primarily makes gourmet chocolates and sells these in slum areas so the low-income groups can enjoy such niche offerings. She charges Rs 100 for 8 pieces, Rs 115 for dry fruit and Rs 20 for plain chocolates.
In initial days of the start-up, she and her family got COVID and had to be home quarantined for a month. When markets reopened, the bakeries she surveyed, refused to dole out recipes and advice. "So, I created my own recipes."
Jha wants to open her own chocolate factory and employ women from slums. "I have seen women here with excellent cooking and baking skills but without opportunities." Already, her orders are increasing via WhatsApp and Instagram. "And a few women have agreed to make my orders during my boards," says Jha.
Profit Rs 9,930
This is the biggest start-up team with nine members that went for customised gifting options such as printed cups, T-shirts and COVID masks with messages, jokes and memes. "It was a tough journey even before we started. A member's father died from COVID, which left the whole team shocked and saddened. Then, most shops only accepted bulk orders for printing or buying T-shirts, cups, etc., and as a small start-up, we received few orders at a time via our Instagram account. Gradually, our orders have increased," said Yash Patwal.
As all the nine members are preparing for IIT-JEE exams, they foresee the start-up might have to be discontinued once they get into college. "At present, we work on the project in our free time, which will change once the board exams get near," said Patwal.
Profit Rs 4,650
Seed money Rs 9,000
When the lockdown was imposed, cinema halls stayed shut for over a year and OTT platforms became popular. Gauging this trend, Vasoo Aggarwal and four others (members Arvind Gopal Jha, Aryan Kharbanda, Praveen Tiwari and Inderjeet Kumar) came up with an OTT pooling system and pitched the idea for the seed money project.
"The idea came to mind, when we saw that many people who didn’t have access or subscription, would visit illegal websites and apps like Telegram. If you see, every platform, for example, Netflix, has one person’s subscription with four profiles, so four people can access the account," said Aggarwal.
"So, we created online page, created e-mail ids and password where anyone interested can pay-and-watch series and movies for a month. Through Instagram and Facebook, we started receiving requests and orders," he adds.
The team has created a separate log in ID and password and created profile people and charges very minimal amount. "If anyone shares the id and password to multiple people, we get alerts as we take IP address of the customers," he says.
Profit Rs 7,000
Seed money: Rs 5,000
Members : 5
Commerce student Harsh dreams to become an eco- entrepreneur, by producing multipurpose compost with the kitchen waste and championing the concept of kitchen gardens opposed to terrace gardens that require lots of space that not every household in the city is blessed with.
The trio takes 20 days to make a batch of compost i.e, per bucket, and have made 20-25 batches after tying up with two temples, 8-9 flower sellers at Mayur Vihar Phase-III. They also approached temples for coconuts offered the gods, to make cocopits.
"Three temples at Phase 3 have agreed to buy our compost. A government nursery liked our compost, but we did not get that deal. However, they advised us to get our start-up registered that we will do after our board exams," says Harsh.
They have also tied up with 30 households for their kitchen waste. "We are working on succulent plants that need less water and care, and kitchen gardens like coriander, chilli, pudina and daily kitchen essentials that people can self-produce and have it in freshly at their own kitchen," said Harsh.
Profit Rs 6,580
Seed money: Rs 3,000