Wadhwani Entrepreneur Network
The vision of Wadhwani Entrepreneur is to have a large network of enabling academic ecosystems connected to India’s fast developing start up ecosystem, mentors and investors so that the best and brightest young people in academia will have an active opportunity to be inspired, educated and skilled in entrepreneurship and venture creation.
WEN empowers and activates thousands of professionals, college and post college students with knowledge and skills to create high-potential startups by showing them why, when and how to create a startup through case-study based education.
WENs proprietary and curated open source courses include master classes by marquee entrepreneurs & industry experts, learning labs, pitch simulators and pitch days. Ecosystem connects with access to incubators, accelerators & early-stage investors, internship opportunities and networking with a global community of mentors, experts & evaluators (across Asia, Africa, LatAm) are part of Wadhwani Entrepreneur’s offerings.
Ignite endeavors to mainstreaming entrepreneurship education with knowledge and skills to create high-potential impact Start-ups. Ignite is structured as a 14 weeks’, 35 hours’ program at no cost to institutes & students for creation of “Practice Ventures”. The program aims at those in later years of the graduate program, post graduate students, working professionals and pre-incubatees with a validated idea and who are planning to launch their venture with an investable pitch deck.
Ignite empowers entrepreneurs through a structured pathway by creating a compelling Value Prop, sustainable Business Model, Financial Stability and a Validated MVP. It is a deep experiential learning guided by experienced facilitators, dedicated mentorship from experts across different domains and industry, top-notch curated content, resources, tools, case-studies and expert Masterclasses. It is a Milestone based journey with real time evaluation, feedback and global jury validation on the ventures entrepreneurial journey.
All of this is enabled on an online learning and engagement measurement system where participants also gain access to a global mentor connect and community consisting of mentors, experts, early stage investors, service providers and entrepreneurs across the Globe, for entrepreneurs to network with for their Startups.
LiftOff is a program designed to work with and support Startups at an MVP stage. Selected entrepreneurs will be taken through a 14 weeks, structured experiential outcome-based program enabling entrepreneurs to take their validated ideas to early traction and investible ready pitch stage and pitch for funding at the end of the program. Startups will be supported by curated structured content, entrepreneur case studies, frameworks, expert masterclasses, 1:1 mentor and network support, culminating in an offline Demo Day.
The program commences with a venture baselining and goal setting exercise which aims to identify the key areas of focus during this 14 week intervention. Each week is divided into different interventions, such as Sprint sessions where a WF Facilitator will conduct a workshop regarding the week’s theme, and how to navigate through the solution kits; 1:1 Mentor Clinics which are consultative sessions with dedicated WEN Program Managers and focused conversations with business mentors and domain experts on the path to meet the venture’s goals. Pitching Bootcamps and Demo Pitches are organised with WEN experts gearing towards a Final Pitch to investors to raise funds.
Wadhwani Advantage program was set up in 2018 and was piloted in 2019. True to the WEN’s vision to promote entrepreneurship as an instrument to augment the capacity of employment creators, this flagship program is meant to educate and skill the millions of small and medium enterprise owning entrepreneurs and their second line management, with the capabilities to accelerate the enterprise growth, improving their health and longevity.
The grand vision is to empower millions to earn family-supporting wages, transforming them and their future generations to live a life of dignity. Close to 1/3rd of MSME population, 10% of GDP, employment of 30 million people and capital lent to MSMEs from lender community, face existential crisis in India and is under threat. The program aims at helping 12.5 million GSTN registered MSMEs, with a potential to create 60 million jobs, creating livelihood and thereby help India contribute to social development goal #8, viz. descent work and economic growth. The program intends to be the catalyst to the SME ecosystem and democratize prosperity and also impact social development goal #10, viz. reduce inequalities.
Since its humble beginnings, the program has helped 1000 SMEs, impacted over 15000 employees’ lives, solved 70+ different problem statements of SMEs, extending its advantage in 50+ tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 locations in India, earning an Net Promoter Score of 73, much above the global gold standard of 50, indicating a high satisfaction of its beneficiaries. The program has extensively used technology, network and knowledge resources as the levers of achieving the mission. Today, the program is at the cusp of accelerating its scale by deploying technology platform in conjunction with personalised coaching and hand-holding of the small and medium enterprises, in realising their true potential.
The Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence—Wadhwani AI—is an applied AI institute whose mission is to identify problems, create AI-based solutions and deploy our solutions at scale, in order to create significant social impact in India.
With a team of around 90 professionals, our expertise encompasses AI/ML research and innovation, software engineering, domain knowledge, design, and user research. As an applied AI program, we have an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach for problem solving within the domains we focus on (currently healthcare and agriculture.)
- Domain experts reflect their deep understanding to identify problems where AI can be usefully employed. These experts work with the consuming ecosystem to suggest changes to existing workflows and processes to embed deployed AI-based solutions.
- User research and design experts reflect usage and adoption recommendations that must be built into AI-powered applications, based on in-depth interaction with last-mile users.
- Measurement and evaluation personnel keep an eye on creating pragmatic measurements to ensure that the goals of any solution are met, by suggesting key data points that must be tracked by the application.
- AI scientists solve the defined problem using AI, keeping the measurement goals in mind.
- Engineering creates the complete application for usage and ensures integration into the appropriate technology framework, per formal requirements defined by the solutions team.
- Solutions management provides management oversight from the initial problem definition all the way to scaled deployment.
Often, there is satisfaction derived from early successes in solving a complex problem using AI, which indeed may push the frontiers of research. However, this constitutes just one important aspect of problem-solving in the applied space. As an applied AI program, we consider several other factors as being essential prerequisites to true, human-centric problem solving.
- Our ability to observe without bias or past notions
- Our analytical skills to truly define and solve the observed problems
- Our patience to recognize the limitations of pace in the ecosystem
- Our ability to capture and translate tacit messages to actionable outcomes
- Our discernment to distinguish the materiality that is embedded in the ambiguity of the problem, and most importantly,
- Our ability to be humble, vulnerable, and empathetic in our journey
In applied problem solving, the challenge largely lies outside the lab, and is attended to by multiple experts with their own understanding of the problem. For this, a common understanding and vocabulary of applied AI across all multi-disciplinary teams is important. This thematically reinforces individual roles, defines work products, enforces discipline, and addresses uncertainties as they arise.
Innovation is not the prerogative of AI alone. Many aspects of applied AI lie in the entire spectrum of problem identification, process design, usage design, and intelligent placement of the AI solution in the ecosystem it is meant to serve. An uncertain terrain requires careful and measured steps to succeed. Such innovations must place the problem at the center, with our cognitive abilities keenly invested in uncovering answers to challenges across the way.
Each problem situation is unique and requires a degree of respect in order to attend to it. As an organization, we strive to adopt a dual approach that involves applying rich, expertise-based experience, coupled with an unbiased, in-situ approach of discovering the nuances of the problem at hand.
This initiative is funded by Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence.