A coffee club that nurtures entrepreneurs

Six months back, 24-year-old Shardul Mohite quit his job as a software engineer at a time when many of his colleagues were fighting to hold on to their jobs. The reason was he wanted to turn 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 now feels he has a successful model on his hands. He confesses it was Open Coffee Club (OCC) that played a major role in getting Webnoise Lab, his start-up firm, rolling.

Though not a venture capital entity as there is no funding, OCC helps many start-up companies like Webnoise hit the road running. Started in April 2008 as a platform to boost entrepreneurship in the country, the club now has 1,050 registered members in Pune. It has a similar number of members in Bangalore and Chennai. It also has presence in Kochi, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

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

The club also invites specialists to deliver talks on diverse topics that eventually help in managing their company better. "Now we are a team of eight and most are youngsters. We are now working on a product called Do-Bill-It, an invoice-based application for individual creative freelancers, which is a niche segment. Nurturing an innovative product comes with a lot of risk. But we are not worried as we can approach any member of the OCC for advice," said Mohite.

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