Saat Saal Baad!!

Jan 2017 would mark 8 years of me out of college and about 7 years of following the dream full-time – wanting to connect every institution in the world back to their alumni! That’s Awesome!! can be the first reaction. But wait! Is it really? People these days are building startups, raising funding and going places within 2-3 years! “What the hell are you doing?” my best friend taunted me.

The question put me in deep thought. As I discovered the connecting dots, I thought it would be good to share them:

The journey has been tough, some ups and many downs, but I enjoyed all along the way! When I started, I knew it’s not gonna be easy and I was prepared for a long haul.

Though I had ideas, I did not have a plan. After spending close to 8 months exploring various thoughts, I decided to work full-time on the idea of Vaave. We started Coherendz in the extra passage space at the guest house of BHUMI (an NGO we volunteered for). The trade off was to manage it for being allowed to use a part of it as our office. We invested the profits from our services business into building Vaave.

About 2 years ago, when our services business was doing very well, we decided to shut it down so that we can move ahead with a clear focus and mission – Vaave. We grew from a time when we struggled for an year to crack our first Vaave deal to serving more than 100 clients and 800 institutions now. Looking back, we came a long way. Looking ahead, we are 15 people, ready to take the next big leap and touch many more lives!

The connected dots!

  • The Foundation: The first five years now looks like the daily practice the sportsmen take up before the world-cup. I did not know anything about business, managing teams, sales or fundraising. The five years, taught me many things from routine legal stuff to being able to make tough decisions. Yeah, maybe I learnt them the hard way with a few bitter experiences but I learnt them for life.
  • The Awesome Team: This period also gave me something I consider my most important asset – My Team! They rode with me against the high tides! My co-founder Sanjeev has been with me for 6 years now, someone who is dot focused and execution oriented. He completely complements me. The rest of the team – Yasaswy, Jaipal, Aparna, Saddam, Jayanth, Srichandana – are the best I could have asked for and have worked together for at least 4 years! Only TIME can build such a team that is resilient and grounded.
  • The Fundamentals: The next most important learning was the “Importance of focus” – Focus only on the Product, Customer Success & Sales. Anything else that does not add to the bottomline can wait. This simple yet profound learning directly co-relates to the ability to execute. We took 5 years to learn how to shield ourselves from new ideas we as entrepreneurs get every other day.
  • Building an Organization: There was a time when we were a team of 25+, but most of the final decisions were dependent on me. It drained me and having a single decision maker will not allow a company to grow. “Flat Structures” is a fancy word in startup circles but an organization needs to have a clear hierarchy for accountability. Freedom calls in for responsibility, while they are free to take decisions, there needs to be someone who shall own the responsibility to complete the task. We learnt this the hard way after 3 cycles of the whole team leaving us.
    Today, nothing in the company is person dependent, the team is fully capable enough to scale the company in my absence
  • Domain Knowledge: The problem of alumni relationships is tough to crack and takes time to understand and build. Most of the startups today want quick and easy growth. Over years, we have gained deep understanding of the ‘Why, How & What’ of meaningful alumni engagement.

Like the dialogue in Dangal goes, “Gold medalist ped pe nahi ugte.. unhe banana padta hai ..pyaar se…mehnat se… lagan se…” That’s exactly how we believe alumni relationships, building a company or a rock solid team should be handled.

The journey has not been an easy one but it has been worth it. It prepped us for a long journey towards what we dream – a world in which ALL institutions are effectively leveraging the power of their alumni networks. And 2017 will be another year we will strive to take more active steps towards realizing this vision.

May the force be with us!

Alumni Involvement in decision making is the way ahead

In February 2014, The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the Conference of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities (CUs) at Rashtrapati Bhavan. In this conference the president advised MHRD, UGC and the CUs to sit together and take action to improve the governance system and structures. He also requested them to engage their alumni in the governance of Universities. He further called upon the MHRD and CUs to prepare a data-base of alumni who can be involved in the governance of CUs.

In September 2014, HRD Minister Smriti Irani‘s two-day meet with Vice-Chancellors of 39 central universities was focused on bringing greater professionalism in the management of these universities including outlining the role of alumni in their development and management. The HRD ministry felt the need to stress on a strong alumni network for central universities after observing their benefits in the IITs and IIMs. Therefore, the meet discussed ways to strengthen alumni networks, institutionalise a structure for it and create an exhaustive database of them.

Since then every Conference of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities included Alumni Involvement as a part of the agenda. While some universities took steps to involve alumni in decision making, some are still finding ways to do the same. Recently, Hyderabad Central University elected one alumni each to it’s Academic and Executive Councils.

Vaave has continuously endorsed the involvement of Alumni in decision making. Alumni have the potential to significantly transform the way learning is being imparted and the way educational institutions are being run. Having studied in the same institution, alumni can suggest changes to the curriculum that will make students industry ready. Alumni can mentor current students and help them achieve their truest potential. Alumni can also mobilize fellow alumni to be a part of making the institution better. And coming from notable positions, they also bring many years of experience from various fields to the table which will play a significant role in helping the institutions take the leap forward. Vaave has been built keeping in mind all these valuable interactions.

We hope that more and more institutions realize and leverage the potential of their alumni networks. And we wish to empower all of them build strong and thriving alumni networks through Vaave.

Sources:
http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=103123
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/smriti-to-meet-39-v-cs-role-of-alumni-tops-agenda/

[Member Diaries] I believe I am at the right place at the right time! – Jayanth Ram KV

Here is what our Rubik’s Cube Maestro, Jayanth has to say about his experience at Vaave.

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“It’s quite good time of 3.4 years with Vaave.

I was looking for a job after my graduation. At this point one thought occupied most of my mind – I should work with a start-up (I didn’t know the word start-up at that point though :) ) building a product rather than in an MNC in the services domain. I felt that in an MNC scope for my learning would be less. Time passed and I was still waiting for the right job. I was getting desperate. It was then that I luckily got introduced to Vaave by a mutual friend, Saikiran Gunda.

It has been an awesome experience working with Vaave. My team at Vaave (Paresh, Ramu, Ravi, Saddam) helped me learn a lot of things in a short span of time. I believe this is the best growth I could have had professionally. I am not sure if I would have learnt a little more or little less if I was in a different company but I feel I am at the right place at the right time. Personally as well, I got good support from my team when I needed it the most.

Vaave has a great core team and I love the freedom we have at work. I love being a part of my team. We are now more organized than before and I feel there is a great scope for growth.

10 years from now I want to see Vaave as an international brand. I want Vaave to be at place where people know us by name and reach out to us for the solution. I want Vaave to expand to sectors like healthcare and solve real problems there as well. I see myself as one of the team leads for the development then making the product more kick ass.”

IIT (BHU) Varanasi launches brand new global alumni portal powered by Vaave

We are very happy to announce the launch of the brand new alumni portal of IIT (BHU) Varanasi powered by Vaave.

IIT (BHU) Varanasi (http://www.iitbhu.ac.in/) is one of the oldest and most prestigious engineering colleges in India. This university has a glorious heritage and a great number of notable alumni to boast about.

iit-bhu

Founded in 1919 as the Banaras Engineering College, it became the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University in 1968. It was designated an Indian Institute of Technology in 2012. BHU has the credit of first starting degree classes in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Metallurgy and Pharmaceutics. BHU was the first Indian university to introduce the study of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. IIT (BHU), Varanasi is ranked 14 in National Institutional Ranking Framework published by Ministry of Human Resource Development in April 2016.

IIT (BHU) is the proud alma-mater of notable alumni like:

  • Thomas Anantharaman, one of the 3-member team at IBM who developed IBM Deep Blue supercomputer.
  • Kota Harinarayana, a Padma Shri awardee and distinguished scientist at DRDO
  • Nikesh Arora, President at Softbank, Ex-Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer at Google. Currently the highest paid Indian executive in the world.
  • Krishan Kant, former Vice-President of India.
  • Veer Bhadra Mishra, Professor, founder of Sankat Mochan Foundation and was a TIME Magazines “Hero of the Planet” recipient in 1999 for his work related to cleaning of the Ganges.
  • Varun Grover (writer), National Film Award winning Lyricist and Songwriter. Famous for writing the songs of Gangs of Wasseypur.

We sincerely thank Mr. Ashish Bhartia (Director – IIT BHU Global Alumni Association) and all the other members of the alumni association for providing us with the golden opportunity of building the Official Alumni Portal for IIT (BHU) Varanasi.

The alumni association was keen on revamping it’s old alumni website into a more interactive and user friendly one. In spite of being the largest alumni association among all IITs, the association was facing challenges in effectively managing its alumni relations. After considering multiple options and numerous conversations, the association chose Vaave as their Official Alumni Engagement Partner. They felt that Vaave, with an impressive track record of working with many premier institutions across India will help them achieve their goals in the most effective way possible by providing a technology solution to streamline alumni engagement and also by continuously supporting them in their efforts.

IIT BHU Global Alumni Association (IBGAA) launched the new portal on September 17 and it was heartening to see the response from their beloved alumni.

Within a few minutes of announcing the launch on their Facebook page, the post was flooded with many likes and shares.

We look forward to a long lasting relationship with IIT (BHU) Varanasi and maintaining the trust that they have put in us. We are committed to helping the institution and the alumni association connect back to their alumni in a meaningful manner.

Visit the Alumni Network of IIT (BHU) Varanasi here – https://connect.iitbhuglobal.org/

To know more about us, visit – www.vaave.com

Follow this space for bigger and interesting news from us :)

Goodbyes are not forever!

Sasi Priya is an alumna of VNR VJIET and an awesome quizzer. She has been an Evangelist with us and is now off to pursue her Masters in Human Resource Management from TISS Mumbai. Here is what she has to say about her experience at Vaave.

My overall experience summed up in a single word is – fabulous. I had a great time working at Vaave. The job was challenging, my colleagues ever helpful and Vaave as a whole, a terrific place to explore myself as a person. The thing that makes Vaave a wonderful place to work at, is the commitment of the core team to the cause that is Alumni Networking and the way they have chosen to go about it. Their clarity of vision and the means to achieve the vision made it very easy for me to connect to Vaave.

I believe my personal growth was linear before Vaave and it was exponential while in Vaave. My best learning from my mentor Yasaswy was understanding people’s needs accurately. Deciphering what a person wants was a difficult task for me earlier, but after working at Vaave and with my team, I am now able to read between the lines of what people are trying to say. I also learnt the importance of focus and continuous improvisation to get things done. Personally, I learnt to be open to new experiences, step out of my comfort zone and be a nicer and kinder person, because that is how people at Vaave are :)

Each day was fun filled and exciting! I can proudly say that while at Vaave I NEVER experienced Monday blues! Not a single day! I always looked forward to going to office, working late hours was never ever a concern because you never realised when the time passed by at all! Lunch and tea times were always the highlights in the day, all the team came together to eat a meal, and there was so much energy and fun in the process you felt revitalized!  The conversations! Oh the conversations! on current topics, on office topics, all of them were sprinkled with just that bit of awesomeness, that they were deeply engaging, insightful and fun too! I love Vaave! I miss Vaave :(

It would be such gross injustice to single out one person to thank! The whole team was amazing, the spirit was great, the sense of belonging always ever present, so much so, it is still ‘our Vaave’ for me and not ‘Your Vaave’. Yasaswy and Sanjeev are two people that shaped my Vaave journey and made it what it is. There were turbulent days, there were days that I was disciplined and reprimanded, and it is for those days that I am most grateful to them. I made mistakes and I was given room and opportunity to right them, this helped me immensely in learning how to go about dealing with challenges, personally and professionally.

To Yasaswy and Sanjeev – ‘your concerns with me didn’t go unheard of, I remember the lessons you tried to teach me and continue to learn and grow from them, even today and most probably will continue to do so in the future too’.

We loved having you with us Sasi and you are truly missed!
We wish you tons of learning and wonderful experiences at TISS Mumbai.
We hope to see you back at office soon.

Lots of love,
Team Vaave

Intern Speak – Gattu Suryateja

Yo Gattu!

We loved having you with us over the summer, Gattu!
You have been an awesome intern and we wish you all the very best for everything you choose to do!

We wish that life showers you with tons of opportunities to go around the world with your camera!
And we look forward to seeing you soon again!
Here’s sending you tons of love.

– Team Vaave

Vaave goes International!

While our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, set foot in Africa to forge partnerships on food security, terrorism and Make in India; Vaave set foot in Africa to forge partnerships that will transform Africa’s education system.

GESCI

Vaave recently went international by launching the leadership network of Global E-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI) run by United Nations ICT Task Force in Kenya.

GESCI‘s leadership network connects ICT ministers of several African Countries and other partners of GESCI’s outreach in Africa. The objective of the initiative is to create a sustainable and impactful network of knowledge society related sectors’ decision makers, government and public sector officials and experts, and practitioners and researchers in order to facilitate and stimulate the collective and distributed leadership capacities of African countries and strengthen their capacity to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We are very happy to announce the launch of our first international network and very proud that this network will play an instrumental role in promoting IT education in Africa.

Keep watching this space for more exciting updates on the places we go!

Vaave featured on ETV (Yuva)

We were featured on ETV (Yuva) yesterday. For those who missed the telecast, here is the complete video of the feature.

This is the first time Vaave is being covered on mainstream TV. Watch the video and keep showering us with your love !! :) :)

Vaave partners with GrabOn to offer exclusive deals to alumni

Vaave+grabonBusiness leaders, Educationists, Thought Leaders and Politicians alike have been advocating that collaboration is the new key to success. Our very own PM Modi is diligently following the collaboration mantra, paving way for strong international partnerships.

Vaave and GrabOn believe that collaboration is a great way ahead too. We are all set to enter into a strategic partnership that will help both companies create enduring value and achieve common goals together.

GrabOn is India’s largest couponing company owned and operated by Landmark IT Solutions, Hyderabad.

“The idea is to provide exclusive deals to the alumni networks powered by Vaave. Alumni Benefits & Rewards is an established concept in the west. It is a way for institutions to show appreciation for their alumni and keep them engaged. However, this has not caught up yet in India. Our partnership with GrabOn is a first step towards driving this concept in India as a way to strengthen alumni relationships. The nitigrities of the partnership are being chalked out. As both Vaave and GrabOn are growing very fast in India and expanding globally, we see great potential in this partnership.”, says Sanjeev, CEO of Vaave.

“Strategic growth is the way to go about for start ups. For GrabOn, it is yet another strategic alliance that we are getting into in order to reach more online shoppers and help them save on their next purchase. We are excited about our alliance with Vaave. We love their niche concept and look forward to collaborating with them and adding value to their product ”, says Ashok Reddy, CEO of GrabOn.

“We are very happy to be partnering with GrabOn. When we met Mr. Ashok Reddy for the first time, we realized we had so much in common – focus on sustainability and unit economics; focus on creating value for customers and focus on creating an awesome work culture – and we felt instantly connected. Our partnership with GrabOn will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders – Alumni, Institutions, Vaave and GrabOn. We look forward to a long lasting partnership with GrabOn.”, says Paresh, Founder & Managing Director of Vaave.

Watch this space for more exciting updates on this partnership!

GrabOn website : http://www.grabon.in/