Entrepreneurs find a lot can happen over coffee

Six months ago,when many of his colleagues were fighting to hold on to their jobs,Shardul Mohite quit his job as a software engineer to become an entrepreneur.

Written by Arun Jayan | Pune | Published: July 29, 2009 1:37 am

Six months ago,when many of his colleagues were fighting to hold on to their jobs,Shardul Mohite quit his job as a software engineer to become an entrepreneur. These are early days yet,but with a growing list of clientele — extending to as far as the UK and the US — Mohite feels he has a successful model on his hands. The 24-year-old confesses that it was the Open Coffee Club (OCC) that played a major role in getting Webnoise Lab,his start-up firm,rolling.

Though not quite an angel investor nor a venture capital entity as there is no funding,OCC has helped many start-up companies such as Webnoise hit the road running. With the Pune chapter starting in April 2008 as a platform to boost entrepreneurship,the club now has 1,050 registered members. It has a similar number of members in Bangalore and Chennai besides having a presence in Kochi,Kolkata,Delhi,Mumbai and Hyderabad.

“The first generation entrepreneurs share details such as registering a company,managing HR and marketing of products with the next generation. The sole aim of the club is networking of like-minded people and helping their business grow. We meet every second Saturday of the month and around 50-75 entrepreneurs,including prospective ones,take part in the meeting,” said OCC Pune chapter coordinator Santhosh Dawra.

The club also invites specialists to deliver talks that eventually help members manage their company better. “Now,we are a team of eight,and most members are youngsters. We are currently working on a product called Do-Bill-It,an invoice-based application for individual creative freelancers,which is a niche segment,” said Mohite.

The maiden OCC was flagged off in Chennai in August 2007,taking a cue from the OCC model started in London in February of the same year. “We formed the Chennai OCC with 25 members. The number has now crossed the 1,000-mark. True to its name,we used to meet in coffee houses. But later,when the number of members increased,we opted for larger venues,” said OCC co-ordinator Siddhartha Govindaraj,CEO of Silver Stripe Software Pvt Ltd. Govindraj along with Vaidhy Mayilrangam,chief technology officer of Serendio Software,started the OCC in Chennai.

Amrinder Singh,co-ordinator of the OCC Bangalore chapter,said there were youngsters from rural areas who have sold off their bikes,laptops and even cell phones to get their virgin ventures rolling.

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