Published: 20th February 2018
Bon Voyage: How these students cracked a start-up competition to head to France
Repaul Kanji, a PhD student from IIT Roorkee, led his team in the 24H Chrono Entrepreneurship Challenge, and will not further his start-up dream in France
When the 24H Chrono Entrepreneurship Challenge began Repaul Kanji, a Computer Science major who had shifted to disaster management, wasn't the most enthusiastic member in his group of seven. As he told the team, some of whom were from CSIR, Mysuru; IIT Indore and so on, he did not see himself fitting in. "I even told my team members at the very beginning that I'll be contributing the least," shares Kanji, who is pursuing his PhD in developing disaster resilience through CSR at IIT Roorkee.
The challenge is a flagship project of Bonjour India, to celebrate innovation and creativity of the partnership between India and France. The challenge was conducted at IISER, Pune in December last year
But as luck would have it, he was made the CEO of the business plan they were supposed to present. He not-so-reluctantly chipped in when it came to developing the vertical and horizontal supply chains, general management and even pitched the plan, which in itself is quite interesting and a mixture of two patents. And before he knew it, he was at the fore of the Bonjour India project organised by the French National Agency for Research and Technology (ANRT) and Novancia Business School, to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of the young.
Winning selfie: The team after winning the challenge
Coming back to the project itself, two members of Kanji's team owned patents — one that involved processing the turmeric tuber (the raw root) into curcumin (the powder) in eight hours flat, while the regular process takes 28 days and another that had the know-how to process curcumin into biofuel, which can be used in fertilizers or to produce energy. "It can also bring down the prices of certain things," adds Kanji who is from Sealdah, Kolkata, explaining why their pitch was beneficial for people at large.
I had very limited knowledge of business but know I feel that if I decide to start a business tomorrow, I won't have any problem
Repaul Kanji, IIT Roorkee
And so it happened that from among 56 students from India who had participated in the challenge, his team has been selected to visit France for a week-long trip to one of the most renowned innovation hubs, FabLab.
Bonne chance, we say!