Twenty19 is a website for students to connect to companies and get real-world experience in order to live out their dreams. With a stated goal of “enable[ing] every student to be in a position to choose and pursue their dream career”, the founders of the company certainly chose a lofty target. With 3000 companies and 2500 colleges having used their services to provide internships to 30,000 students, every second seems to make their goal more achievable.
Inc42 got in touch with the CEO and Co-Founder of Twenty19, Mr. Karthikeyan Vijaykumar to get a closer look at their work.
1. How would you describe Twenty19.com in your own words?
Twenty19.com helps college students in India gain practical exposure through internships, learn industry-relevant skills and live their dream career. Twenty19 also helps companies across India reach out to college students & recruit top student talent for Internships.
2. How did you come up with the idea? Does it solve a problem or does it fill a gap in the market?
We got this idea when we had a chance to visit colleges & deliver a talk on entrepreneurship through NEN. The students we met clearly lacked industrial exposure and when we asked about their interest to intern, they were very keen to take up internships. We also spoke with our company contacts and they were mentioning the talent crunch. Hence, companies were willing to take in interns and offer a full-time job, if the interns did well. This internship model helped both students and companies.
Twenty19 solves a real problem for both students and companies.
3. What were your initial aims, and how far have you progressed with respect to them ?
Initially, we just wanted to connect the students & companies through Twenty19.com and check if it solves the problem. We wanted to support the students in their search for practical exposure. However, within the initial 6 months, companies and students had a good feedback on twenty19.com
which encouraged us. More and more companies registered with us. Soon, many students too started joining and benefiting from Twenty19.com. Currently, over 3000 companies and students from over 2500 colleges use Twenty19.com. Over 30000 students have got internship offers and over Rs.40 crore has been offered as total stipend so far, to students.
4. What problems did you face while starting up? How did you tackle them?
There were several challenges – the initial one was recruiting team members. People were reluctant to join and build on a new idea. However, once more companies / students started joining, recruiting the team became a lot more easy. We also had to convince some of the companies of the student’s ability to perform. This was also overcome when companies started to work with students and saw the potential . Infact, companies liked the quality of the work done by students and started to pay good stipends to students. Initially, only 10% of the companies paid a stipend. Right now, over 90% of the companies pay a stipend. This is a great sign of the student ability and quality.
5. How have you changed as a person through the journey? How have you grown?
Start-up journey is something that everyone should go through. It is magical because it takes one to the highest highs and the lowest lows. This teaches the entrepreneur to accept the lows and be humble at the highs. For this reason, i think an entrepreneur should also be a student of psychology, in addition to his core competence in other areas. This will help him to be more balanced. Personally, it has been a great learning across the disciplines for me. I feel I’ve grown 100x since i quit working and started up as an entrepreneur.
6. What are your aims for the future, and how do you plan on reaching those goals?
At Twenty19, our aim is to help students with internships & also with skill development. We want to reach out to a million students by 2015. We also want to support over 15000 companies by 2015. We are on a good growth path. If we continue to provide great experience for students & companies, I believe that we will be able to exceed our goals.
7. Final words for our readers of INC42 and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Find a problem that you enjoy solving and you get paid for, for solving. If you find that, just stick to the journey and you will have the time of your life! Go for it.