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Expanding circle of influence: Importance of mentoring in the business world

Sunday August 12, 2012 11:37:15 PM, Uday Salunkhe, IANS

Ambition and talent, along with access to capital and mentoring, can take the young pretty far. The entrepreneurial fecundity of an ecosystem has direct impact on its economic prospects. Entrepreneurial quotient in turn is fuelled by ideas and innovations. These seem to be the life blood of any thriving economy. The turbulent times we are living in demand daring ideas along with creativity and innovation which can be keys to a world of infinite opportunities.

As a nation, we have many untapped domains that are real opportunities to drive business. What we need next is a good number of innovators/entrepreneurs to explore and work upon these with experts/mentors from the relevant domains taking them under their wings. The Holy Grail for lifting bottom lines will be the new fast growing ventures; these in turn need entrepreneurs with ideas and creativity. We have to build up an environment where ideas get a favorable ambience. Here, technology emerges as the new messiah, making the ecosystem more equalitarian, democratic and secular.

Brilliant ideas need to converge with expert mentors and investors. Those who have already arrived need to give a hand to the talent that is yet to prove its mettle. Innovation is a perpetual phenomenon though the starting point is the idea and ability to sync one's talent with the needs of people and turning that into a saleable and sustainable business proposition. Here comes in the role of mentors. Mentoring has been on the rise among new ventures and not without a reason.

There are two ways of learning...either by going through it or learning from the experience of those who have been through it. Mentoring goes with the latter. A mentor passes down the wisdom and experience accumulated over the years probably the hard way to his mentee within a much shorter time frame. He guides him through the labyrinths of the business world till the time mentee learns the rope.

Somebody has rightly said: "Children are like water: bottle them up and they stagnate; let them run wild and they make a mess; guide them and they bring life to all they touch." This holds very true for talent too.

We at Welingkar are trying to guide this talent and strengthen the entrepreneurial matrix with special thrust on innovation. Welingkar innovation labs - Innowe and Prototype in Mumbai and Bengaluru respectively - have been launch pads for many a successful business venture by its students. These ventures have been well acknowledged and respected in their respective domains at national and international platforms.

Also recently the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (We School) played host to the second Phase of ET: Power of Ideas initiative, which included one-on-one meets of the shortlisted contestants with mentors on its Mumbai campus. The initiative brought to the fore a brilliant concoction of Private-Public-Academia.

The event, an ET initiative in partnership with the Department of Science & Technology (DST), has to go through many more stages. DST brings to the programme its immense expertise and relationships in the entrepreneurial space as well as a corpus of Rs.6.2 crore of guaranteed funds open to all deserving irrespective of their execution-stage. Institute of Management's Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) will help screen the ideas in the initial stages; in the final stages it will mentor the deserving ideas in a 10-day residential programme at the IIM-A.

The initiative dovetails with the Welingkar philosophy of mentoring talent, creativity and in turn entrepreneurship. The initiative, a step in the same direction, not only spots talent but takes it ahead in the desired direction to create desired effects.

Along with the concerted efforts of diverse sectors of the economy we need many more such agents of change who can catalyze the proliferation of bold ideas into profitable and sustainable ventures. Fortunately there is a growing network of experts, venture capitalists and angel investors out there to help brilliant ideas take off. With their (mentors') ever expanding circle of influence we see a growing genre of modern entrepreneurs - well rooted in reality yet ready to reach for the sky.


Uday Salunkhe is group director of the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Mumbai. He can be contacted at


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