“ Effort and pain may not be avoided. Physical and psychological breakdowns occur. The support of a like-minded group, dedicated to the art of suffering, provides a safety net. An individual will push harder and risk more in the company of trustworthy peers.”
E-Cell has set out to acknowledge all the new budding entrepreneurs and their Startups in NITK through the initiative of ‘Starting Up in NITK’. Following the previous edition, we tried to track down the story of another initiative called ‘PSup’ and sat with its co-founder Adithya LHS, who started this startup along with Nishchith, and found the back story to this great concept of student community services.
Imagine, I am a potential customer who just stumbled upon this name ‘PSup’, how will you explain this concept to me?
PSup is a student-community services platform. Do put up with me because it’s sort of unique in the country. We form communities of students in each university and give the community a corporate identity aka a business entity.
PSup, stands for Peer Support which is our core value in itself. We work towards establishing community-engaged skill sharing platforms and driving each ecosystem (university) to be a self-sustaining entity. You will be taken through a hand-held procedure through all facets of development and experience a system of mutual growth between your peers. Providing our members, community support, better resource aggregation and direct access to developing a wholesome college experience is our goal.
How and when did the concept of PSup come into being?
I believe it was about 6 months ago when my co-founder Nishchith Sriam and I were working for another NITK startup called Astral Presence. It gave us insights into what we’re lacking in Indian colleges. This nagging doubt and feeling of inadequacy forced us to search for viable options to help better things. Coincidentally we ran into various student agencies that work for student communities through a closed community model. Almost every Ivy League college has the same in some form or another.
It took us over 3 months to tailor a similar system for universities in India and here we are, at the crux of change.
What gaps would you say are being bridged by PSup?
We work towards the holistic development of students. We breach multiple boundaries and create a conducive environment for exploring alternative career paths, develop essential skills, both soft and hard. We’re working as a pseudo consultancy platform for our clientele to provide newer, challenging and more enhanced corporate exposure to the community.
How has the experience been till now with the recent performance statistics and responses?
A robust model as such, we’ve been mentored by professors, alumni and industry leaders and honestly, we’re spellbound with how the NITK community has responded to our initiative. We’ve had so many students asking to be a part of this initiative. Also, the concept, along with our value propositions have been largely appreciated by the student body.
We’re so grateful for every bit of appreciation and support that we’ve been shown.
What would be the next milestone considering the current situation of work from home?
Our next milestone as such would be to create our freemium community model where members get access to free resources. The resource aggregation in itself is ever-growing, but it should be led to a substantial amount by September. After which, we’ll be opening registrations for community members.
A larger driven community with the right incentives will foster better growth for all of us. Both the company and the community; they’re the same nevertheless.
How has the journey been up until now? Any major roadblocks?
It’s a bittersweet journey that’s altruistic. We aren’t entrepreneurs who are out there for valuation or validation but drive-through for a social cause.
You get a little bit of bias because you aren’t there for profit at times and at times it’s unresponsive.
If I had to point out one major roadblock, it’s with choices and management. It’s how our productivity went to near zero during the exams or how the same might repeat during the placement season.
Secondly, it’s micromanaging. We’ve had our fair share of trouble with deadlines and all of it. As an intern who submitted work a few hours before or after the deadline this summer, I felt how it was to be on the other side of the table when you’re waiting for a team to come clear on deadlines and it goes haywire. Nevertheless, it’s been a learning experience on how to manage teams, stay efficient but most importantly balance everything on our plates.
What kind of support are you expecting from the startup and student community in NITK?
We aim for the first proof of concept in NITK, and our target is to reach around 3000 community members by the end of this academic year. We’ve loved our feedback so far, and we hope the same extends towards existing student chapters in the university.
But right at this instant, if there’s anything that we’d love to see, it would be a larger audience for our marketing campaign. The team’s put in a tremendous amount of effort for the same and an amazing audience helps us evaluate our progress as we proceed.
Finally, how has the entrepreneurship experience been for you and the team behind this ‘Peer Support’ group?
Ah, the tough one. We aren’t in it for profit. Nishchith and I have co-founded two social ventures this summer and honestly, it’ s been a ride. We have an amazing team for both the ventures which have the passion to experience and learn everything that’s put forth. Social ventures grow very slowly compared to other products as such, but slow growth gives us time to evaluate, empathize and work upon bettering ourselves and the community. As a model centred around people, it provides one of the best doorways towards networking, diplomacy and understanding of inter-disciplinary projects. The most significant learning of ours would be to embrace failure. It’s been a rough road so far, and our journey has just begun. Success stories get into the spotlight, but the amount of not-so-successful stories around it is massive. Failure isn’t normalized or accepted in this society, and it all changed for us when we put our skin in the game. We’ve put so much at stake and even let go of our safer placement options to venture out. The biggest take for every entrepreneur would be to glorify failure and shoot your shot, at least it is for me.
Through this message, I would love to do my bit by telling that all of us have feelings of inadequacy, and if we let go of passion, we probably wouldn’t be ourselves anymore.