Students often miss good opportunities – a techfest, a cultural show, a chance to win a big scholarships or even jobs and internships. They miss these because, most of the time, they are simply not aware about them.
This is what used to happen to two young entrepreneurs, H K Manikandan, a student of electrical engineering at Amrita Universitey, and Sures Kumar T S, a biotechnology student at Vellore Institute of Technology. So they started an SMS group to share information about such events between friends. The popularity of this group surged and the group started growing.
“We found that many people want to be a part of the group,” Manikandan said. “So we thought that a larger medium, like a website, would be more useful.”
That led to the creation of www.letzknow.com, a web portal for students to keep up with events happening across the country. The website went live in October 2008.
Manikandan said that since its inception nearly 16,000 students have visited the website. The duo have received some positive feedback from students.
Yamini, pursuing a bachelors degree in science from Pune University, was always interested in writing fiction. She learnt about a contest involving short stories related to science fiction from the website. The day she got a call for the finals, she sent an email to the letzknow team to thank them. “I never knew where to showcase my talent and letzknow is a great resource,” said Yamini, in her email. Apart from connecting students with events, letzknow.com with a blue-green template, also provides a platform for networking.
Students can sign up and create their own profiles. As of now the website hosts more than 2700 profiles. Students can also publish their college assignments on the website, for the entire world to take notice.
Manikandan and Sures have a dedicated core team of about 30 students, helping out with the website. They also have a network of around 300 volunteers from colleges across the country like the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, National Institute of Design, J B Institute of Engineering and Technology and Jawaharlal Nehru University, among others. These volunteers provide the content for the website. A few web advertisements cover their operational cost.
The website has separate links for curricular and extra-curricular events like summer internship programmes, entrance exams, quiz contests and debates. The list is updated every two hours.
The student community in Bangalore is quite happy with the website. Vasudev Kanthraj, a third year student of architecture at R V College of Engineering, who is also the Cultural Coordinator of his college, said that he usually learns about various events only at the eleventh hour.
“So the real talent never comes up,” said Vasudev. “Through this website, it will be possible for the really talented students to surface and display their skills.”
Likewise, Junaid Jalihal, a fourth year student of Dayanand Sagar, said that he will look at this website at least once in two weeks to keep track of events happening in student life. “I have already informed my friends about it,” said Junaid. “It seems like a good initiative. I like it.”However, the same students, who appreciated the website, also pointed out certain drawbacks.
“I think the website is very informative, but I am into animation and I found nothing related to animation,” said Suraj Ganachari, who recently passed out from Takshaa, Bangalore. He said that most of the events were related to engineering and were happening in places like Mumbai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There was almost nothing about Bangalore, he added. Junaid, an architecture student, had the same complaint. Students also had complains about the registering process being too long and complicated.
Manikandan take the criticism positively. He vowed to increase the network and introduce a feature that can segregate events according to the area of interest.
“Thats a good idea actually,” he said. “We are trying to bring that concept.”
Manikandan and Sures would be graduating this summer. After their graduation, they plan to take up the website as a full time venture.
“We are both ambitious about becoming entrepreneurs for life,” said Manikandan. “We dont want to be engineers for life, that is for sure.”