On June 20th, Upaya's Director of Business Development Sriram Gutta spoke with participants in the Acara Summer Institute about many of the operational challenges young entrepreneurs face in launching a new social venture. Drawing on his work with Upaya, as well as his role as a co-founder of Mobile Medics (now part of the Piramal Foundation), Gutta emphasized the importance of pilot testing a concept with pre-defined success metrics in place.
“No matter how experienced they are, every entrepreneur needs to go through a period of experimentation and refinement before they can think about scale,” said Gutta, “and before a pilot is launched, the team needs to establish a common understanding of how success will be measured.”
“Young entrepreneurs often make assumptions about how their model will work without ever testing those assumptions,” he said.
Over the course of the intensive nine-day program, participants from two US and five Indian universities are brought together for working sessions, workshops, panel discussions and presentations of their models. Participants include a wide variety of entrepreneurs focused on issues such as clean water, sanitation, energy, public health, and food and agriculture.
The Summer Institute is organized by Acara, a program of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE). The Acara Institute was founded by experienced corporate and university professionals in 2009 and has since become a formal program of IonE. Acara's mission is to provide the infrastructure, education and awareness to find sustainable solutions, and then to assist in implementation where possible.