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Innovation Garage

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October 2016

What exactly is Crowdfunding?

Blue, the color of the sky which you had always known, is slowly being engulfed by a gravitating blackness. “I have talent”, you shout. A ray of light passes through but is nonetheless usurped by the dark light. Tentacles bear above the ground and try to strangle you. You panic. It then hits you and you shout again, “I have Passion.” A beam of light shines through and blackness seems to withdraw. The suffocating grip loosens. But just when you thought it all ended, the shining starts to flicker before finally ceasing to exist. You lose all hope. “All I lacked was the green paper,” you mumble and just when you were on the verge of losing all hope, a warrior on his galloping horse advances towards you. His armor radiates a blazing flare that swallows the blackness. He then sways his sword hacking off the tentacles. “Who are you?” you inquire with gratitude. The man simply lifts his helmet and all you see is “Crowdfunding” inscribed on a faceless head.

Okay, okay! I agree that was a very dramatic introduction. But the sense of relief that it brings in those helped souls could as well be compared to the situation above. After all, you have Talent and Passion, a rare combo but it’s unfair that you are held back by the materialistic go of the world. That’s where Crowdfunding kicks in as a warrior on his galloping horse advancing towards you with his…ahem… okay, moving forward.

What is crowd funding you may ask?

Many of you must’ve heard about the crowd funding from our very own Efficycle team, Thunderbolt 4.0 managed by The Lakshya Foundation. The team successfully raised a whopping Rs.75,000 from alumnus and faculties, automobile enthusiasts and well-wishers. Crowdfunding is basically an ideal and optimistic approach where general public holds the power to help you realize your funding goals. Whether it is for launching a product or just going to your dream vacation spot, it’s on as long as you have supporters to support you (pause) financially.

The concept has been around and actually, quite popular for some time now. Crowdfunding campaigns powered by websites like ‘Kickstarter’ and ‘Indiegogo’ have given wings to a lot of innovative products such as Pebble Time (garnering $20,338,986 on Kickstarter) and code.org (collecting $5,022,041 on idiegogo). Wishberry.in, ketto.org and impactguru.com are few of the local alternatives.

University Crowdfunding, however, is a bit different from conventional Crowdfunding in the sense, depending on the situation, one may or may not have to provide the backers some perks such as beta versions of their product, equity or even post-purchase services. All the student has to do is to submit a detailed proposal specifying how they are going to utilize the funds and Bam! Your crowdfunding campaign is good to go! The regular donors generally include enthusiastic alumnus, faculty and even some of the students and acquaintances. Such campaigns help you publicize and gain visibility for your work. Moreover, the local crowd can relate to and understand the projects more easily compared to the general audience.

Being directly involved with such extensive campaigning has other perks too. It helps you to get acquainted with and figure out marketing tactics and improves your networking skills. But as a student, one has the responsibility to be transparent about the good use of the money as well as provide regular updates on the progress of your projects. To avoid misuse of campaigns, most university-based crowd funding will have a designated standard for screening in case of numerous projects. Also, a detailed MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) will have to be signed by the campaigners (students requiring the funds) to show a mutual understanding between the team arranging and the team requesting the campaign.

So guys if the funds are all the hindrance that is stopping you from achieving your dreams, give it a try. The Lakshya Foundation’s website has awesome crowdfunding portal that has helped many of our seniors before. The portal is on its way to revamp itself for an even better experience.

Stay tuned for Crowdfunding 2.0 by The Lakshya Foundation with a lot more features and reach to make the running of the campaign easier and effective. May the crowd always be in your favor!

By

Akhil Nambiar and Gaurab Manandhar

TEAM RISING PISTONS SPEAK OUT

imageThe NITW Go-Kart team, Team MechXhausters – Rising Pistons, secured AIR 1 in the pre final round of Go-Kart Design Challenge 2016, thus bringing honor and pride to the Institute. Now what is Go-Kart, you ask. A Go-Kart is a small four wheeled racing vehicle, much like the ones you see in Kart racing on TV. The college Go-Kart team, since its inception in 2013, has been participating in all the national level Go-Kart competitions and this year they managed to achieve this remarkable feat in GKDC ’16. The IG team managed to catch up with three members of the Rising Pistons – Rajat Kate, Gaurav Mahendra, Anup Prasad Mishra (all of them from 3/4) – for a short informative interview about their project and the competition.

What were the main inspirations in your involvement in the Go-Kart team and to work diligently for it?
As we know, textbook knowledge is not enough especially if you are an engineer. After all, engineering is all about application. Being a part of the Go-Kart team has been a first step towards mastering the practical aspects of engineering. We have been taught a lot about technical things and the first hand experience of the practical world. Besides the technical side, we have learnt quite a deal about management too, since we had to manage our time, shift it between academics and also find time for life outside academics. How we can make ourselves better professionals after college, that we need to learn at the earliest possible. So these were all the prime motivations. We did not want to remain limited with textbook knowledge and this proved to be an excellent stage to apply all our knowledge in the practical world, also promising a reward for our efforts.

What are the basic skills that one requires to be a part of the Go-Kart team?
Well, one must have some knowledge about Kinematics Of Machinery, Thermodynamics, Material Properties and yeah, also one must be good at speaking, mainly because you have to present and negotiate with people. But the most important skill that you need is to be able to work in a team. Because you’ll be coming together with 15 people whom you might not know earlier, but then you need to work with those people throughout the year, to achieve something that is way bigger. And since the budget for this project is also high, so making this thing work out with those 15 people is very important.

And what are the challenges that you faced in the past five months of working on this project?
The most noteworthy challenge that we faced was to integrate the efforts of everyone towards one common goal. Every individual has his own particular dreams and expectations, and connecting everyone’s needs with the team’s goals was one of the toughest challenges that we faced. For example, at the earlier stage, some people were not that motivated and for them achieving the top 20 positions in the all India rankings was satisfactory, while some of them were determined and wanted the first position. So to bring congruence between their wants was challenging. This is not something you get to read in books, or blogs. You learn it completely through experience. The second key challenge was the market survey. We were not aware about which parts were available in the market, what were the correct dimensions, and also there was a compatibility issue, as we had to take parts from other modes and reassemble them. The third challenge was the setbacks that we would have now and then, and then resuming again after facing those setbacks. For example, our chassis was redesigned several times – around 5 – 6 times. Even when we had just 15 days left for the competition, we were still designing the chassis and had not finalized it. And finally the last challenge is the college bureaucracy. We’d like to explicitly talk about that. We could have easily got the permission for working in the workshop and using the tools if the college authorities and faculty were a bit more cooperative and friendly. We are not complaining here but we just want to point out where there is scope for improvement. Getting permission for participation from the Director could also have been easier if we had cooperation. Then, there should be the scope for reimbursement. Though we are trying tooth and nail to get it, the possibility of getting it is minimal. There has been no support from the college even after five months of inception of the team. However one good thing that the Director did was to mention the achievement of our team in his Independence Day speech.

Okay, and what about the seniors? Are they helpful enough?
Yeah, the seniors are really helpful. They have been guiding and assisting us since day 1. They share their experiences with us and also suggest better ways to achieve our targets. We report to them that we are doing this and that, and they would advise us accordingly and also suggest necessary changes so that we can improve the concerned parameters. They also talk about the mistakes that they made during their time and guide us so that we do not repeat the same mistakes. Basically we’d call them whenever we require some help. Even right before our first round where we had to give a presentation, we first gave a presentation before our seniors and they pointed out where we were going wrong and how to correct them.

Tell us about your future plans as a team and how do you plan to achieve them?
This time we’ll be participating not only in GKDC but also in FKDC (Formula Kart Design Challenge). The final round of GKDC will be held on 17th January and that of FKDC during March. So we’ll be running the same vehicle for both the competitions. As for how to achieve our plans, we are trying to make our Go-Kart different from everyone else’s. We have implemented a drastic change in the model compared to last year’s model. First thing we have tried is to keep the mass of the vehicle as less as possible. Then we chose an engine which has features different from other engines. The third change that we have made is going for other materials rather than the conventional steel. We’ll be using fibre glass this time and also other different techniques. Also, we will be focusing on the aesthetic appearance of the vehicle. We’ll also try to showcase our Go-Kart during Technozion, so that people get aware about it and our efforts.

Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the people or any advice that you’d like to convey to the juniors or the future Go-Kart team?
The most important thing that we did as a team was not to remain fixed on a particular rule. Like if you are said that certain parts cannot be used or certain design cannot be used, you should not follow it blindly but rather try to experiment on it. And that requires courage. This courage factor is something that would help to set you apart from others. Also you need to set the bar really high for yourselves to achieve it; you should have high ambitions. Overall this is a complete learning experience. It is more of a learning experience than a competition. To be honest, we have learnt more during these last five months working on this project than what we did in the last three years.

-by Paritosh Bailung

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