Nidhi Sharma began her entrepreneurial journey in India. After graduating from college with an Electrical Engineering degree, she founded Ukhaad Electronics, which runs workshops and training to introduce colleges and schools in India to STEM subjects.
Nidhi Sharma’s business was profitable and growing, but she felt she needed a unique education in entrepreneurship and innovation to compliment her technical background and scale her startup further.
The social entrepreneur began looking for courses on MOOC platform edX and then enrolled in MIT’s online course, Entrepreneurship 101: “Who is your Customer?”. She acquired new knowledge that helped her better understand her customers. She heard about the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp through the Entrepreneurship 101 course and decided to apply.
“It was a fascinating experience,” Nidhi recalls of her time at the Bootcamp. “I was exposed to how companies are set up and run. But the big thing for me was the international exposure. The team I worked with was diverse and consisted of people from seven continents, everyone bringing in their unique experiences. It helped me understand how, as a product designer, I should be looking at the same problem from various perspectives.”
During the Bootcamp, that team created the idea for a business which turned organic waste into 3D-printing filaments. That idea won first prize at the Bootcamp Demo Day.
After the Bootcamp, Nidhi took the learnings back home, to her education startup, Ukhaad Electronics.
She analyzed that while the business was afloat, it didn’t have very promising numbers in terms of paying customers, and what they were willing to pay for the product. Nidhi figured out that the market that she was targeting was not ready for her product yet, and she decided to take a step back.
“The Bootcamp taught me to think bigger,” she says. “It taught me to analyze this situation without getting emotionally stuck to the idea.”
A few months back, Nidhi joined the “Clean India” initiative in the Government of India, which aims to improve sanitation in Indian villages. She is trying to trigger behavioural change by motivating people to adopt healthier sanitation practices. The Clean India initiative addresses the issues of open defecation and closes the loop on waste management, by converting the waste to fertilizer for crops.
Nidhi has been accepted to the Integrated Design and Management program at MIT, and will start her graduate studies in Fall 2017.
Her goal is to leverage the knowledge and network she accrued at the Bootcamp to positively impact society and the environment. “That doesn’t mean not-for-profit,” she adds, “but I believe the entrepreneurial venture you embark on should positively impact the world around you.”