Management School MICA Turns Into Startup Incubator

Harnoor Channi-Tiwary, NDTV  |  Updated: July 14, 2017 13:43 IST

Management School MICA Turns Into Startup Incubator
Management schools are often accused of imparting only theoretical knowledge to students. The industry argues that when a management graduate steps into the corporate world, it is not a familiar one and there is often a mismatch between expectations and ground reality. But this is fast changing.

Students of MICA, Ahmedabad are no longer waiting to graduate before starting off their own ventures. And the hottest industry currently in the start-up space, of course, is food. MICA, being located literally in the middle of a jungle, twenty minutes away from even the nearest roadside stall, offers only the cafeteria or canteen (chotta) where students can dine. However, a few students are out to change that. These budding entrepreneurial minds have decided to use their management education and apply it on campus. A few groups of students are already running small-scale food startups to cater to the captive audience within the institute.

The remote location of the institute robs it of the plethora of food stalls that IIM-A or NID have outside their gates. It also falls outside the delivery-area of most restaurants and fast food joints. Vani Chandra and Dipika Mittal decided to capitalize on this need-gap and started 'Food Konnect'. They offer delivery from major eateries in Bopal and have a minimum order requirement. Initially the team would personally go and pick up the food.


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As business grew, they outsourced the same to an auto rickshaw driver who is paid a fixed amount per trip and he delivers the food to them. To optimize even further, they have a set timetable so students can order from McDonalds on Monday, from TGB on Tuesday, etc. Margins are great as Food Konnect charges 15% extra over the bill amount. And students, bored of cafeteria food, are happy to pay the same. On future plans, Dipika shares, "The business model, unfortunately, is not scalable outside of this remotely located institute. Thus, we are now working on our next big idea, one which we can take to market as soon as we graduate".

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Avoiding complexities of real-time orders as well as managing the freshness of cooked food, WeCare (started by Ronak Soni, Vaibhav Zaveri and Dishant Bhatt) offers dry savoury snacks. The monotony of eating potato chips from the canteen can now be broken by ordering snacks like khakhra, alu laccha, soya sticks, dry kachori, etc. Vaibhav reveals "These are procured directly from a cooperative group of women as well as a factory nearby. We accumulate orders via email and also stock up enough in our room so that students can walk in and buy their favourite snacks when they wish to". The startup has reportedly already made a profit of 15-20% and the money has been reinvested into the business.

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All this is well and good, but what do you do when you're brainstorming on a project at 2am and hunger strikes? In typical campus-behaviour, most project work is done late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. Group meetings and discussions at MICA are now more fruitful with a steaming plate of instant noodles, delivered right to the room. Devi Prasanna Pradhan has started a little food-shop of his own in his room and calls it The Khatti Stop. Operational only between midnight and 3am, it does not interfere with his class schedule and offers him the chance to try running an entrepreneurial venture while still in management school.

The Khatti Stop started with selling tea and instant noodles and now has diversified into coffee, ice-tea, strawberry juice, soup and nimbu pani among other items. All are easy to make and all he needs is an electric kettle. Devi procures ready-to-cook snacks from Bopal (he makes one trip every day) and offers room-delivery. Apparently, his dry noodles with masala sprinkled over it are quite the rage and he gets upto a dozen orders every day. He also offers his fellow batchmates the option to order grocery items and food stuff that he picks up from a supermarket.  


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In a business environment where things are evolving every few months and the top entrepreneurs in the country are still in their 20s or early 30s, these students have decided to hit the ground running. Management education is no longer just about 4 Ps or the BCG Matrix but these institutes are slowly evolving into idea-incubators. These are exciting times indeed.

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