December 5, 2021

College delayed, teens start businesses from home

Bengaluru: Bhaavika Guptha has been staying up nights to do her online classes at Claremont Mckenna College, but that doesn’t mean she sleeps all day. The undergraduate student of economics runs CrumbleBlr in the morning, selling 10 types of desserts, brownies and cakes. Gupta returned home to Bengaluru in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and she soon realised she would not be back on campus until next year.

“I have always loved cooking and baking,” says the 19-year-old. “The lockdown and my return to India from the US enabled me to set up a business. It is a full-fledged business, and I’ll hand it over to my mother once I return to college in the US in early 2021.”

Covid-19 has delayed the start of the academic year or forced a break in education for many teenagers, but rather than stay home, some entrepreneurial students have started their own businesses. From skincare products and upcycled furniture to online bakeries and mental health apps, these teens across the country have used the time to tap their business skills. Even if classes have re-started, many are continuing to take orders and make deliveries. Most use Facebook, Instagram and Dunzo to take orders and make deliveries.

Marketing is done viz social media and word of mouth. “It’s easier to work on Instagram because it puts out ads for business pages,” says Kanishq Gupta, a tenth grader in an international school in Bengaluru who registered his breadmaking company Thoroughbread on 1 September, after selling through WhatsApp for the last few months. “I take just two orders a day as it takes time to make bread. Now my classes have also started and IB is quite a tough curriculum,” he says.

Four months ago, Bengaluru-based law students Nandita and Sanjeevini Navadgi decided to turn their hobby into a business during lockdown. They’d been making their own all-natural face packs and creams for family and friends for years, and decided to try selling them. They borrowed 10,000 from their parents and started working on an Instagram-driven business. In four months, they’ve fulfilled 90 orders, and repaid the loan in full. “We’ve made four times what we borrowed from our parents already,” says Sanjeevini, 18.

Most of them give a part of their profits to charity, others have been sending supplies to essential workers during the pandemic. Mira Sachdev, a student of economics and psychology at Ashoka University, has set up a collaborative fashion space 3X1. She posts online polls to find out what buyers would like and then curates clothing lines. She’s been working with a team of tailors and her profits are contributed to a home for destitute girls in Andhra Pradesh.

Three Mumbai-based interior design students, Avishi, Darshi and Ritika (who go only by their first names) set up an upcycling furniture business while in lockdown. “We were bored. We’re interested in sustainability so we decided to start this. Clients send in pictures of their old furniture and we remodel it into something they love within their budget. Upcycling not only reduces emissions, but also saves trees and reduces the carbon footprint,” says Avishi.

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