Students are often too caught up in the academic whirlwind to understand the needs and requirements of the industry they want to get into. To bridge this gap and create a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing system, Ajay Singal and Krishan Mittal started Unfurl Minds in 2014. This startup is in the space of connecting education with technology.
“Lots of students feel that they are not industry ready and organisations say that students are not employment ready. Unfurl is for students to connect with alumni of their college or alumni from different institutes,” explains Mittal.
But how is Unfurl different from connecting platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook? Answering this query, Mittal responds that most students do not use LinkedIn as much as professionals do, “LinkedIn or Facebook does not really provide an environment where students can be themselves. When they come on to Unfurl, they can network on the basis of their queries and interests. It doesn’t just have to be about what’s on the résumé. In college, there are many extra-curricular activities that students take part in, so that bit is highlighted in Unfurl.”
To research the needs and requirements of students and educational institutions, the founders spoke to several principals and directors, “Initially there was less acceptance of the idea because we came without a mobile application. That was our main challenge. Once we built the app, then we realised that students were more comfortable using it. Instead of functioning in a B2B manner, we decided to take the app to students directly.”
The app works in such a way that the user or student can access alumni members from different batches. Apart from connecting with the alumni, students are also able to send questions which can be answered by professionals in the industry. It also allows students to put up activities going on within the institution and share job opportunities if available. “Once a student comes on board, then he or she brings the entire college or institute with them. This helps to improve collaborative learning and students develop a more effective way of communicating. Colleges also now have the chance to maintain their alumni database on one single platform,” adds Mittal.
As of now, Unfurl is focused on Engineering and Business Administration related colleges and institutes based in Pune, “For now we want to narrow our focus to Pune since it is the educational hub of India. But ultimately, it is the users who will define how the app is used. In future, we’d like to target metro cities and later focus on tier-two cities. The educational collaborative system is very strong in America so we want to see if we can tap that market too.”
Mittal’s advice to budding entrepreneurs stresses on the fact that people have to come out of their shell, “Employers are looking for a healthier profile. It is not just about academics but much more than that. You should encourage yourself to do more activities and be more innovative.”
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