Channelling students into entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial pair Arnav Dutta and Shourov Bhattacharya is determined to bring out the best in the CBD’s brightest international students.

Educator Mr Dutta and business brain Mr Bhattacharya have joined forces to match groups of students with businesses for mutual benefit.

Unlike some others, certificate and advanced diploma students at private registered training organisations (RTOs) generally have no entrepreneurial channels offered to them.  And they are further bound by restrictive visa requirements that stymie their talent for business.

But to Mr Dutta and Mr Bhattacharya, this is a tragic waste of potential talent and creative energy.

“Look at the Elon Musk story,” Mr Bhattacharya said. “It’s a migrant story.  And we could well creative similar outcomes here.”

Since last October, the pair has identified, placed and mentored about 50 students in groups of four.

One group, in particular, has Mr Bhattacharya excited. “They’ve come out of their own accord and have created a world-class application and program.”

Mr Bhattacharya is taking them to the next stage, including access to seed capital.

“Suddenly, they realise they can do something.  They are all super aspirational.  They want more from life,” he said.

In fact, Mr Bhattacharya said he was constantly amazed at the progress the students were making and the level of contacts and meetings they were arranging.

“Even if their project fails, the experience they have gained sets them over and above,” he said. “They are the people we want for the future.”

The group comprises a Colombian business student, a Mexican electronic engineer, a Chinese software engineer and an American psychology student.

“They’re a killer team,” Shourov said.

Mr Dutta said theoretical studies could only take students so far.

“It’s not tangible. It’s not real. They need to spend time with real people. They need access to real businesses and real business problems,” he said.

He said educational institutions needed pathways to entrepreneurship but, as a cohort, international students were “structurally marginalised”.

At the moment, the program is operating under the broader banner of Mr Bhattacharya’s Innovations in the Wild business.

“It’s currently called The Business Club,” Mr Bhattacharya said. The former Melbourne 3000+ Awards winner said he and Mr Dutta were yet to formulate an appropriate business model for the social enterprise.

For the moment, however, the pair would love to hear from interested businesses. Mr Bhattacharya’s email is Shourov@innovationinthewild.com

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