“Putting ideas to work” Rohan Singh brings another dimension to business education with Impressario
The Entrepreneurship Club is not a club for playing; it is a club for ambitious students with a yearning to do more than going to class, read their books and go home. It is for students with the innovation to come up with award-winning ideas and the drive to see those ideas come to fruition. The President of this club, Rohan Singh, felt an urge to do more, to achieve more, and wanted to inspire other students to do the same.
Rohan took over as the Entrepreneurship Club President in September 2019 after the former President left for Canada. He came primed with knowledge from all he had learned as the CEO of the Student Company Program 2019. The purpose of leading this club was to form a culture- a culture of students inclined towards acquiring knowledge, brainstorming brilliant ideas, and having the initiative to make money off of those ideas.
When Rohan returned to Chandigarh in the 11th grade after studying in Canada for a few years, he quickly got involved in and became CEO of a student-run company. This company manufactured a product made of cane- a multi-functional load carrier that would be a useful tool for construction sites.
Singh’s passion for business and entrepreneurship led him to join Fraser Valley India’s Student Company Program last year. The company developed a sustainable, natural soap brand, La BlesEnce. The students in the program manufactured, marketed and sold soaps made out of used coffee grounds they acquired from cafes around Chandigarh, thus saving on production costs and helping the environment.
Some of the lessons that Rohan brought into his club from his experience as CEO of the Student Company was how to work with and manage a team effectively and confidently.
Rohan admitted that a few years ago, he had notable trouble working with teams. He recollected completing entire group projects all by himself, and the day the project was due, he told his other team members what to do. He soon apprehended that one needs people alongside them if one wants to move ahead.
“You can only go to a certain point if you are alone,” said Rohan, “but if you have people alongside you who have the same mentality and the same ambition, you can go much further.”
Every day, Rohan strives towards striking a balance with his team, between being a manager and a friend. Rohan discovered that the key to success is not giving commands and leaving the team to work on their own, but instead providing a sense of direction and working together to get things done.
“In the Student Company Program, there were times I would have to get into production as well,” said Rohan. “I would have to go and sell the products, to make sure the inventory was sorted, to cut vouchers … you have to learn to wear all different hats in the business.”
Patience is the greatest lesson Rohan has learned while being the President of the Entrepreneurship Club, a club with approximately ten committed members.
“Patience is the one thing, that if you have too much of it, it will make things delayed, but if you have too little of it, nothing will work out … Patience is something that I have learned; that everyone works at their own pace. I may be ambitious, even too ambitious, but you have to understand your team’s perspective as well.”
The first few weeks of Rohan’s leadership consisted of making sure everyone’s knowledge of underlying business practises were on the same level; that all the club members know what a business plan is, what a canvas is, and much more. However, reading about business practises and applying those practices under pressure are two very different things. This club is about practical learning and developing the skills needed to be able to work in a high-stakes environment, which is why Rohan turned his sights towards competitions in order to put the club’s newfound knowledge into practice.
When Rohan took over this leadership role, he noticed the club dwindling in size each week until just ten members remained. Rohan speculated that this was partially due to the early meeting time of 8:00 a.m., but also because people did not realize the type of commitment this club required, and many students did not know how to manage their time well enough to balance school work, family life and being part of a serious club.
Rohan is extremely diligent in his time management, as he plans his days into stern 30-minute intervals. This routine evolved after a period of trial-and-error in figuring out what worked best for him and his specific needs as a student, entrepreneur and leader of a club.
The club has two branches, one for brainstorming potential business ideas and startups, and another branch focusing primarily on competitions. The club has already competed in a case study competition in Hyderabad last semester and is currently preparing for another competition that involves them coming up with a strategy for another company. In this case, it is an international real estate company.
Rohan is focusing on quality over quantity in terms of the types of competitions he enters the club to compete in, favouring company-run competitions over student-run ones. Company-run competitions will offer more significant opportunities, such as grants, internships and mentorships, for those who win. Winning these types of competitions will allow the club to get the funding to see their vision come to life as a real business, and not just as a contest entry.
Then comes the brainstorming section of the club. Their primary aim is to come up with ideas that are viable and that the team is passionate about it. The first step is coming up with a winning idea; raising funds is next.
“There is no point in having the club if you do not come up with an idea and get it raised in terms of funding. This decade is the startup decade; getting funding is not that hard. All you need is a good idea, a good business model, and making sure that you can give others the confidence that you can make money,” said Rohan.
Currently, the brainstorming branch is researching the consumer tech industry, focusing on products they can import instead of manufacture. Coming up with a viable idea takes teamwork, along with plenty of time, focus, dedication, and patience.
“When you brainstorm, you will not find an idea that will change the world in an instant, but you have to start somewhere.”
Rohan notes the serious dedication students need to possess to be a part of this club as they focus on winning. The Entrepreneurship Club teaches students a particular type of ambitious attitude and a taste for winning. This attitude will help students in school by motivating them to achieve the highest possible GPA, as well as training them to withstand the pressure they will inevitably face in the workforce once they graduate.
“When you leave this club, you will develop an attitude that you are not just there to participate, but you are there to win,” said Rohan. “Plus, you have the tools to make sure you can win and strive for excellence.”