Rishabh Gupta is a young entrepreneur who is helping the country's graduates find jobs, internships and more. Here, he offers advice to budding entrepreneurs and young graduates on how to make the most of their career.
Letsintern.com is a platform connecting students and colleges to organizations. Letsintern is India’s no 1 youth gateway to college students. It engages students through internships, career services, brand ambassador programs and other corporate-student engagements.
- Adjudged as India’s top 15 emerging start-ups by NASSCOM in 2011.
- Winner of Economic Times Power of Ideas - 2010.
- Recipient of a government grant from Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Letsintern.com is a unique platform that brings together three important stakeholders in the country — students, colleges and corporate organizations.
Founded in April 2010, the start-up was awarded the Economic Times' Power of Ideas title the same year it was incepted.
Recently, it also earned a grant from the Department of Science and Technology, government of India.
Today, the organization comprises an active team of 26 members with offices in New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.
In this interview, Rishabh Gupta, CEO and co-founder of letsintern.com, shares his experiences as a young entrepreneur and offers valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and fresh graduates.
What motivated you to quit your job and become an entrepreneur?
I have always had the desire to start my own organization. Add to this the herd mentality, poor innovation and boss pleasing that is prevalent in big organizations.
After working for two years with three different media houses, I realized it was time to create something of my own. My partners and I wanted to turn our dreams into reality and make a difference to society. That's how we decided to quit our jobs and start a business of our own.
Why did you decide on “Let's Intern” as a business idea?
Well, there are about 12 million students and about two million organizations, with no dedicated platform for these two parties to interact. This proves that the opportunities in this field are obvious, huge and needs attention.
We are glad we decided to cater to the needs of students because India's growth story depends on the youth. Through letsintern.com, we are able to be in the center of it all.
What challenges did you face while starting a company at the age of 24?
When we started out, we had no money, no great backgrounds and no idea on how a business is done. We couldn't afford anything, so we begged, pleaded and persuaded people to do stuff for us for token money or free. We learnt everything step by step.
I heard more Nos from clients and investors than I did from girls in school and college. In all, it was a very exciting but tough time. We learnt to enjoy the rejections and kept moving forward. Movement is all that you can show when you are that young.
How has winning the Economic Times “Power of Ideas” impacted your business?
Winning the Economic Times “Power of Ideas” gave us the platform, money, recognition, investor interest and everything else.
If the IIM-Ahmedabad gives an average student immense opportunities in terms of a job, “Power of Ideas” gave us the same thing in the business world.
We had the opportunity to talk to the best investors, mentors and entrepreneurs. The entire process was a good learning experience.
What role has social media played in the success of your product?
Social media is the only marketing tool that we had for the first nine months. Social media is free, viral and present everywhere.
Our entire target group, which is college students, is always on it. Therefore, it was a perfect match.
We have more than 22,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, all of whom are genuine, obtained through word of mouth and without spending a dime.
Why should students opt for 'let's intern' over any other platform? Which other platform boasts of internships from stellar start-ups plus SMEs (small and medium enterprises) plus blue chips like Times Group, HCL, Viacom, MTV, Channel V, Outlook, fashion designers, movie houses, advertising houses, etc?
The variety and quality of opportunities provided by letsintern.com is unmatchable.
Do you remember your first internship experience?
Yes, it was with the Mudra Group and I do remember it well. I was 20 years old and I worked really hard for those two months.
In fact, my bosses still remember me and are always willing to employ me. It was a fun time and the only thing I did was be desperate to prove myself, do more and learn more.
What should young students keep in mind while they're looking for internships?
Following are things students should keep in mind:
• Take an opportunity rather than sitting at home doing nothing. Nobody sat at home and became anything, doing the smallest job is better than doing nothing. Working for free is better than not working as a student.
• Be desperate to learn, to work across functions, and gather as much knowledge. Don't try to be specialists in internships — be generalists.
• Try to do varied internships to understand what you are good at, what you like, etc. Experiment more.
Your advice to budding entrepreneurs...
• Just believe in your instincts and start.
• Always think of three things with respect to your business: (a) what value am I adding to the consumer? (b) What is my cash situation? and (c) How am I different from my competition?
Please share some advice on how young graduates can make the most of their college life.
Start young: Footballers, musicians, and others make a lot of money in their 20s as they have been practicing their art since they were five or seven.
So after 15 to 20 years of hard work, they make millions and it takes anyone that much time. Thus, spend time from day one to further your dream, career interest and be desperate for opportunities and learning.
Indulge in good company: An organization is defined by its people. Similarly you alone can't succeed and will need people around you to challenge you, compete with, work along with and develop new ideas. The sharper the brains around you or better the people around you, the better the chances that you will also succeed. All leaders stress on surrounding oneself with the best talent around.
Learn to take the first step: Thinking how to make one billion dollars or be as famous as Richard Branson is daunting, scary almost. It keeps you lost in day dreams. Think of the first step your favorite idol took — and take the first step — start a student magazine, start an internship, start working, thinking and moving forward to your goal. The rest of the journey to your billions will unfold along the way.
People make money, money doesn't make people: No amount of money will make you a different person. It will help you buy expensive clothes but cannot change your style. Don't chase money — all the money in the world will take you nowhere as a person, it may make you more insecure. Learn to be the person worthy of the money — and you will earn more and stay on top.
Be friends with geeks: The most popular kid isn't the most successful. Be friends with everyone, you never know who could become tomorrow's CEO — people change a lot in a decade —look back at your last 10 years and you will find out yourself.