Incubated at SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) in IIT-Bombay, Purple Squirrel is all set to change the way interaction with the corporate world and academia works in the country. Purple Squirrel was founded by Aditya Gandhi, 24, and Sahiba Dhandhania, 21, in September, 2013. Aditya completed his BTech and MTech in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT-Bombay, while Sahiba has a Gold Medal in Economics (Honors) from Christ University Bangalore. Before co-founding Purple Squirrel, Sahiba was with DE Shaw as a Financial Analyst at its Hyderabad office.
Aditya chanced upon the idea when he was working in Optiver Amsterdam as a Derivatives and Equities Options Trader in Europe. He realised that the European culture was entirely different when it comes to student interaction with companies. Aditya says, “Optiver (his previous company) would have student visits to the office every week to expose to them the culture of the organisation. Most companies had a policy of inviting students to spend a day with them before their interviews started. This ensured that both the company and the candidate had information to be able to decide better.”
Sahiba adds that the term ‘Purple Squirrel’ is a term used by recruiters to describe an ideal job candidate who fits the job requirements. With 16 full-time employees who take care of operations, marketing and technology aspects of the company, Purple Squirrel aims to give industry-based experiential learning programmes for colleges, wherein students are allowed to visit and interact with both start-up companies and industry behemoths. They take pains to make sure that these visits are based on the profile of a student and industry expectations.
With programmes operational for engineering students in seven cities, they are planning to expand to other cities as well. Programmes for non-engineering courses such as Mass Media, Science and Management are also being readied for students, for which, talks with related companies are going on.
“Our company will create more transparency in the industrial visit ecosystem which will help both colleges and companies to come online and understand each other’s wants and needs better. With our aggressive hiring methodology and effort towards innovation coupled with commitment and guarantee, we believe we can gain traction faster,” adds Aditya. A boot strapped venture till date, they have tied up with 10 engineering institutions and have set a targeting of opening three new centres in other major hubs immediately based on the city’s market potential. Just like most new business ideas, Sahiba opines that building credibility, getting good talent and ensuring cash flow were huge hurdles at various points of time in the journey.
Purple Squirrel aims to break even by the end of 2015. There is only a one-time fee for the students, based on the different packages that range from a five-day trip to a nine-day trip or are customised according to the needs of the college. Aditya says, “Imagining that a pre-requisite to start one’s own business is either an MBA degree or work experience is only a mind block, and not necessarily a tangible requirement.” Sahiba chirps in adding, “Startups have been exalted a little too much off late. It works well only for someone who is ready to shed one’s ego and go full throttle with a focused goal.”
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