A True Breaker Of Stereotypes
A true breaker of stereotypes, Nitesh Shivapooja is not your typical entrepreneur.
Despite founding an award-winning social venture, Onyx Social Ventures, Nitesh went on to further his studies in Technopreneurship and Innovation and then chose to join the corporate world after.
It was not any ordinary company; it was Google India, one of the most sought after companies to work for in India. We caught up with Nitesh to find out more about his experiences at Google, his first steps into entrepreneurship, as well as the differences between a businessman and an entrepreneur.
What’s your role at Google, and how is it like working at a company that is built on creativity and innovation?
NS: I work with the Google Search quality team as a strategist, and my job is to provide the best quality of search results to each and every of our users. I also work on educating webmasters all across the world on these issues, by means of video conferencing and social media!
It’s great working for a company like Google – as a whole, they are always looking out for innovative skills, and everyone is very much encouraged to think and implement their ideas like entreprenuers do for their own companies.
So does having an entrepreneurial mindset help employees thrive better at Google?
NS: Corporate entities do not hire entreprenuers or intrapreneurs – they hire employees, and it is up to you to make yourself an intrapreneur and drive innovation within your team. Google is really supportive of these behaviours in terms of resources and mentality, and ideas are valued no matter how small the team and product is. The environment here is really healthy and nurturing to innovators like us.
Within Google, innovation and ideation is second nature to the employees – however, from the public eye, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have of entrepreneurs?
NS: I think there is an existing confusion amongst many people regarding the difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur. The term entrepreneurship is overused these days, resulting in some degree of misuse. A businessman runs a business, which is more profit-driven and straightforward – whereas an entrepreneur has a bigger goal of working towards eliminating the world’s problems.
In my opinion, it is very important to differentiate between these two terms, as confusion and misuse would lead to the dilution of the quality of information out there.
Corporate entities do not hire entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs – they hire employees, and it is up to you to make yourself an intrapreneur and rive innovation within your team.
People always feel that passion and risk-tolerance are few of the more important traits an entrepreneur should possess. What other traits are important for an entrepreneur’s success?
NS: I think it is very important for an entrepreneur to identify the problem they are trying to solve, as well to grasp an understanding of the reasons behind this problem. Many entrepreneurs are set to solve the world’s problems, and they go ahead to develop their state-of-the-art solutions – but what they fail to realise is that they may not be problems that require solving in the first place.
During your university years, you also founded Onyx Social Ventures. What were some of the motivations behind your endeavours?
NS: Onyx Social Ventures was started in my final year in school, where we looked to generate greater awareness about entrepreneurship in the college, to encourage more aspiring entrepreneurs to work towards their projects, as well as to direct and connect them to the right investors.
At Onyx, we also pursued social entrepreneurship, and successfully increased the penetration of technologically efficient firewood stoves in the rural areas of India through a unique fund model. We won many awards for our efforts. These together with the passion in working on my ideas; are the little things that have continuously pushed me forward.
Do you think that an entrepreneurial mindset is something that can be cultivated?
NS: I don’t think an entrepreneurial mindset is something that can be easily inculcated or cultivated – but it definitely can be refined. In fact, the graduate programme that I went through was very beneficial to me – it polished my passion as well as empowered me with basic skills such as accounting, funding, programming and many more.
Entrepreneurship is a way of life and working with my professors, industry experts and peers have given me a chance to learn more about the industry, how people work, as well as thinking global – and these lessons are invaluable to me.
I don’t think an entrepreneurial mindset is something that can be easily inculcated or cultivated – but it definitely can be refined.
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Nitesh is a Search Quality Strategist at Google India, and has been with the company for almost three years now. He was also the Founder President of Onyx Social Ventures, winning two national awards for innovation from the National Entrepreneurship Network of India. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), and went on to further his studies with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).