Harsh Jain is from the civil engineering batch of 2020. He is a Co-founder of R2MI Ventures, which is India’s first complete through the line student marketing firm.
What provided the motivation for the start-up idea? What problem did you want to solve?
With a student population as big as the USA and 1.5 times that of China, Indian students are the influencers and consumers of tomorrow. Most colleges have social events in fields of sports, technology, entrepreneurship, cultural & social, which require participation from various corporates. Many of these colleges find it challenging to get appropriate sponsorship, connections and mentorship. For brands utilizing, scaling & getting RoI from these events is very difficult (given the timeline differences of fests, lack of professionalism of organisers and disinterest of students in traditional marketing tactics). We are solving this problem by acting as a bridge between them.
Given the multitude of opportunities present on campus like placement, higher studies, etc., what motivated you to go for a start-up?
It was mainly due to the desire of solving this problem, making something which earns while you sleep, and business genes, which run in the family. Additionally, meeting great startup-minded people from IITB and outside – like Love Sarin, Nav Agarwal, Abhishek Singh, Keshav, Nigel, Aditya, Alok, Nikhil, GP Singh was a great experience. Also, I think the cushion options like deferral by Placement Cell is a booster for people aspiring to start-up while in the institute.
What are the milestones you have achieved till now?
We have had a great journey so far and have achieved several milestones :
- 600+ colleges partnered with us where we have the leverage of using their spaces & facility to conduct any activity and engagement at any time.
- Working with over 20 clientele including ByteDance, Coca-Cola, Philips, HERE Technologies & startups like Azah, CredR and many more. We have designed and executed various types of campaigns like product & store launches, workshops, digital campaigns, creating task force or crowdsourcing, sampling, market research, branding & speaker sessions, as well as targeted sales campaigns.
- Raised strategic seed investment, established HQ in Bangalore and built a high performing team of 15 people.
- Received synergy offers from people like Kunal Bahl (co-founder, Snapdeal), expansion opportunities for other countries like Indonesia and appreciation by the Government of Uttarakhand.
- Last month, we helped around 10 institutions to conduct classes online by using UNESCO prescribed tools. We are collaborating with the companies and training teachers free of cost for the technological shift
HQ – Bangalore
Briefly describe the journey so far, like finding co-founders, seed funding, challenges, success in deploying your product
I started this company with Keshav (a senior) a year ago. We won a few competitions like IST – Thailand which acted as a launch-pad. Major challenges were:
- Finding the right team; hiring < firing rate.
- Balancing acads with it
- World hunting only for tech-driven startups & products.
- The business model on paper vs reality
We got the support from R2MI, which strengthened this idea to execution.
Are factors like precious PoRs, CPI, etc. important in the startup world?
Quantity – No, Quality experience and exposure – Yes.
I started with a big bang i.e MnP Club, met and worked with great people in E-Cell (including my co-founder), did courses on engineering law, construction management, and entrepreneurship – which are now directly helpful in day-to-day operations. Things which you are not ready for, a.k.a life’s black swan list, can change the number of opportunities you have. I think specialization is for insects, one should learn and explore everything.
What are your expansion plans? Or do you plan to exit the company (to join MBA etc.)?
Founders need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. We will expand in other cities and grow in the process. We are always looking for new opportunities.
I believe experiencing actual business > reading case study of other businesses.
What advice do you have for a guy who is at the same crossroads as were you back at the time of starting-up?
I would suggest three things:
- Learn to code – the point is not to become a magician but to look behind the stage.
- Insti is full of brilliant people – meet as many as you can.
- Man has two lives, the second one starts when he realizes he has only one. You are going to die anyway, do everything you want.
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