CASE STUDY ON SHARP EDGELEARNINGINNOVATIVE HIGH TECHENTREPRENEURSThis case study is for the students of entrepreneurs. I have prepared this case studybased on interactions with Mr. Paresh Gupta and team on 18 July 2012. This casestudy highlights strategies of innovative entrepreneurs in emerging high growthsector. It gives learning on the process of development in start-ups. It should bestudied in the perspective of strategic management, marketing management,business plan formulation and entrepreneurship. The author is grateful to Paresh,Arpit and Chirag for their valuable inputs.Author : Trilok Kumar JainJain.firstname.lastname@example.org/18/2012
Today I met Paresh Gupta. He along with his fivefriends started a company to promote digitaleducation. His friends are Arpit Mehta, ChiragMaheshwari,Harshit Gupta, Mohit Agarwal andSourabh Gupta. These six persons had a dream andthey made it happen. Each of these six personscould have opted for a job (infact a few of them lefttheir lucrative jobs), but they decided to dosomething on their own. They had a passion andthis passion drove them to innovative business.They found a huge gap between the expectationsand reality so far as technical education isconcerned. As most of them are from engineeringbackground, they decided to focus on domain skills.They realized that a lot can be done to impartbetter training in terms of domain skills and softskills for engineering students. They launched acompany called Sharp Edge - to give an edge to thestudents. Their endeavour is to sharpen thestudents coming out of Engineering institutions.
Today they are able to give employment to 60persons. They admit that these 60 persons couldhave got higher package elsewhere, but they areworking with their team because it is a start-up inan innovative sector.Success of great start up depends on innovativeidea, scalability, and its ability to remain exclusive.Their ideas are to give a support system toengineering colleges across the country. They caneasily scale their operations across the globe. Theyhave prepared contents which can be used inclassrooms. These contents give a better idea abouttechnical concepts. They have used latesttechnology to craft this content. The content thatthey have developed, consists of lectures, 2D and3D images of machines and systems, factories,interactive study material etc. All these contentshave been designed under the guidance of expertsincluding professors of BITS Pilani.
This start up is due to an inspiration by anacademician. Dr. Maheshwari, former ViceChancellor of BITS Pilani encouraged and motivatedthis team to launch this start up. BITS Pilani isproviding them infrastructure support andmentoring. Within a short span of 11 months, thisgroup has been able to get over 20 clients.Innovative Idea : -The team has weaved their business model aroundthe basic idea of developing students for the future.They have tried to look into the perspective of theemployer and found that there are many aspectsthe employer look for, but probably the studentsdon’t have those capabilities. They have thereforecreated a business model which providesspecialized training and guidance to the students infollowing sectors : 1. Domain skills : specialized training / class room programmes for providing technical training
2. Soft skills training – from development of resume to mock interviews to discussions about career – from very minute issues to complex issues like career planning 3. Webinars by experts : to guide the students and to motivate the students about their career and future 4. Digital Contents for better education : development of contents and supply of those contents to colleges / students 5. Use of latest technology to create 2D / 3D contents for better visual and better understanding : this content has been developed by experienced software developers under guidance of expertsNeed and rationale : -Following issues give us the reasons for theexistence of Sharp Edge : -
1. There is an acute shortage of quality faculty members in engineering colleges across the country 2. There is an acute shortage of good laboratories and equipments for proper display and experimentation 3. Digital classes provide better understanding of technical subjects though audio-visual inputs 4. There is a direct relation between level of domain skills and soft skills among the students and their placement, thus Sharp Edge can ensure better placement support to the studentsRevenue Model : -Sharp Edge sells its contents to the engineeringcolleges / engineering students. These contents aretailor made as per the syllabus of the engineeringcollege. They depict entire contents of the syllabusthrough digital mode. Their team gives support to
the engineering college. They also conduct teachertraining classes, where they enable teachers to usedigital learning media for class room teaching.Education is a growing industry and therefore, thereshould be a great revenue model ahead. The teamis optimistic. They have spent last two years inplanning and visualizing the contents and now theyare able to develop the contents as per theirdreams. They are sure that the contents will offergreat value proposition for the colleges andstudents. They modify and develop the contents asper the requirements / syllabus of individualcolleges. They charge for tailor made contents forone year of education. They also charge for givingspecialized training for the purpose of placements.Thus these charges reflect a very reasonableamount to be charged from the college / students.They can easily replicate their success in differentcolleges / universities and spread their wingsabroad also. Their business model is scalable and
can be stretched across the globe. At present theircosts are mostly manpower costs. They areemploying 60 employees. They have developedthree offices / content development centres. Onecentre is in BITS Pilani and two are in Jaipur – one inMalviya Nagar and one in Jawahar Nagar. They areable to save rents and associated costs as they don’thave to pay any rent for any of these centres (thetwo centres in Jaipur are run in their homes and theone in BITS Pilani is supported by BITS in the form ofinfrastructure, space and mentoring). They are ableto have networking with a large number of alumniof BITS Pilani and other eminent experts, who arewilling to provide guidance and mentoring throughweb (through Webinars). Thus they are able to havethe best possible guidance and support.Organisational structure and leadership pattern :Mr. Gupta and his team is well prepared for theorganization of the future. They understand that
they are shaping an organization of tomorrow.Knowledge based organizations require differenttypes of structural and leadership variables. Mr.Gupta said that his focus is on building a strongteam, which shares the passion of the founders. Hetold me that in order to develop his company, hehas taken a number of initiatives like a flatorganization, open organizational culture,mentoring by experts etc. He was able to introduceall these practices because he is an MBA. Hismasters in business administration helped him inevolving appropriate strategies for a high-techventure. His understanding of modern businesspractices enabled him to formulate an innovativebusiness proposition.Marketing and Networking :Sharp Edge has been making news from thebeginning. They were awarded as EduStar and werecovered by many websites for their innovativebusiness venture. They were awarded as an
innovative start up by many organizations. Theirstrong team and a strong mentoring team (facultymembers and alumni from BITS Pilani) enablesthem to establish credibility very easily. Successbegets success and so they are also able to spreadsuccess and increase their clients. Out of sixfounders, three focus on content development andinnovations in product designing, while three focuson marketing, relations with clients, field work andin giving presentations. They travel extensively andgive vivid presentations in colleges. They have beenable to establish rapport with thousands ofstudents, and academic community at large.Mr. Paresh Gupta (chairman of Sharp Edge) is anMBA and his understanding of modern marketingpractices enabled him to serve over 20 clients in avery short span of time. From the beginning theyare able to get guidance from thought leaders andgreat academicians. They are able to get regularguidance from Dr. L.K. Maheshwari (former, Vice
chancellor, BITS Pilani), Mr. Vinay K. Nangia, Dr. RajK. Gupta, Mr. B.R. Natarajan, Mr. Bikramjeet GuptaVerma, Mr. Arumugam and other eminent thinkers.They are able to establishtheir identity amongacademicians through theirlinkage with BITS Pilani.Awards and RecognitionThey are reciepient of eINDIAChampion Innovators’ Awards: ShowcasingEmerging Startups and Technology Trends inDecember 2011. [The eIndia Champion InnovatorsAward is an exclusive competition for TechnologyStartup companies in India. eINDIA 2011 theseventh edition of India’s largest ICT, organised byDepartment of Science and Technology,Government of Gujarat, and Gujarat InfomaticsLimited hosted by the Government of Gujarat wasco-organised by Department of InformationTechnology, Ministry of Communications & IT andAll India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).]
They are also recipient of award of Edustar- 2ndbest educational startup company in the country bywww.yourstory.in in May 2012.