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Intern Theory*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases - FLAME, 12 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Tanisha U Kulkarni, student at Sardar Patel Institute of Technology, Mumbai and Ganesh N Prabhu, Professor of Strategy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

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Intern Theory

"As a student, it took me a long time to find a suitable internship. But in the interval when I was struggling to get an internship, I thought of an idea which would make securing internships easier for one and all. The idea developed with time and I wanted to pursue it. I wanted to change the way people looked at internships."

– Vamil Sangoi, Co-Founder, Intern Theory

In 2012, Vamil Sangoi (Vamil), a first-year engineering student studying at the Dwarkadas J. Sanghvi College of Engineering in Mumbai was desperately seeking a voluntary internship to spend his two-month summer break. Unassisted by his college, it took him almost a year to finally secure a suitable internship. When he talked to his friends about his predicament, he realized that this was the case with many students in his college, as well as possibly in other colleges too. No student knew how to best seek out voluntary internships of their liking that could help them in the future. Even those who had secured such voluntary internships could not help others to get them. Many companies that offered internships did not advertise them. Rather, they offered it to those who applied to them through someone known to them. Many companies ignored any unsolicited internship applications that they received. Vamil thought of an idea that could make securing internships easier for all students.

Why Internships?

College students typically get few opportunities to implement what they have learnt. Many students doing basic degrees such as science, arts and commerce are unsure of what type of job would best suit their interests and aptitude. They are not aware of the practicalities of the job that they may be expected to perform after college. They may have no opportunity to check if they fit into their job well.

Securing short voluntary internships during college vacations solves this dilemma, as students can apply their academic knowledge to solve industry related problems and experience work realities.............

Launch and Rejig

Vamil’s idea of enabling students to efficiently find internships of interest to them, took form during his first year of engineering studies. It was implemented when he was in the second year in college. He teamed up with three of his college friends Dhruvi Dharia (Dhruvi), Anshini Jhaveri (Anshini) and Jugal Choksi (Jugal) to brainstorm and research on his initial idea. “We were budding engineering students back then, immersed in academics, trying to balance a lot of things at once. So, to overcome this, every day after college, the four of us stayed back and met in the library to achieve everyday goals and complete our pending work. We took small steps towards building on this idea,” says Vamil.........

Services

The main categories of internships provided by companies through Intern Theory include Marketing, Sales, Business Development, Human Resources, Finance, Engineering (IT, non-IT, Web and Application Development), Public Relations, Content Writing, Social Media Marketing, Logistics and Operations. Their most popular internship areas are Engineering, Digital Marketing and Operations............

Funding

Creating a website and uploading internship data on it in steadily increasing numbers required funds. The initial funding used for creating the Internup website was done by the core team themselves pooling in their personal funds. By the time the core team was to graduate from college, they realized that their idea could be carried on further to a much larger scale, but it needed significantly more funds to be deployed both in marketing the concept as well as in managing data entry and website operations..............

Campus Ambassadors

The team of Intern Theory communicates effectively with college students across the country primarily through their Campus Ambassadors – one appointed in each college in their network. These Campus Ambassadors are students who actively publicize Intern Theory and its offerings among all the students in their own college though internal college events or specially organized activities. They also provide feedback to Intern Theory on ways to improve their offerings and highlight specific student related issues.............

Value Proposition

Intern Theory is an online portal to bridge the gap between students seeking internships and the companies that provide them. Intern Theory seeks to help students find the right internships of their liking, while companies conveniently get the right kind of sincere interns that they are looking for. As a service provider to both students and companies, Intern Theory must create value on both sides – they do so by reducing the time and effort taken by both sides to search and evaluate each other.......

Creative Trainee Program

Apart from creating an efficient process for aspiring interns and companies to connect online, Intern Theory also got the opportunity in 2016 to learn from conducting a large annual internship recruitment camp for a major media company. Intern Theory collaborated with Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd. (Viacom18) to help them recruit students for the 2016 cycle of their annual internship program called the ‘Creative Trainee Program’. Viacom18 is a major and fast-growing entertainment company in India that houses some leading television brands. Viacom18 has always been actively recruiting interns who constitute almost 20% of their regular workforce. Over the years, Viacom18 had been conducting an annual trainee program called the ‘Creative Trainee Program’ with a select few well known and reputed media colleges in India, to identify and recruit talented media interns.............

Internship Fair

After the successful partnership with Viacom18 in the ‘Creative Trainee Program’ in 2016, the Intern Theory team thought of independently organizing an internship camp. This idea culminated in 2017 when Intern Theory organized ‘The Internship Fair’, a successful ten-day fair in Mumbai. With extensive prior marketing efforts to draw participation, the Internship Fair was held from February 1st to February 10th 2017. It was targeted only for the postgraduate students across the country, including those who were about to complete their post-graduate studies...........

Growth

By 2017, the Intern Theory office was housing a twelve-member team including some interns. This included the four founder and co-founder members and a three-member technical team. Since then, the company has expanded to fifteen full-time employees and eight interns. They plan to gradually expand their team over time as volume of business grows. Even though Intern Theory has a single office in Mumbai, its online presence reaches more than 25 cities in India..............

Revenues

Intern Theory does not earn any commission by posting internship opportunities for students on their website. Creating awareness and promoting internships for students is their primary aim and this service is made available entirely free of cost to all their registered students. The team aspires that all the students who are registered with them must secure good internships followed by good jobs..........

Challenges

While growth has been steady, Intern Theory has faced some interesting and unique challenges. “There have been challenges throughout our journey,” said Vamil. “India is still far from being internship-friendly as most students here do not feel the need to do any internship. They do it only because it is mandatory in a few colleges or courses. Most undergraduate courses across the country also do not require internships.” Intern Theory found that many companies were initially not able to accept the basic ideology of student internships, which is to structure internships in such a way that the interning students become part of a long-term potential employee pool...................

Competition

While Intern Theory was an early entrant, there are now many other startups that help students get internships in India. These include Internshala, LetsIntern, HelloIntern and Twenty19. While these competitors address the same market as Intern Theory, some of them differ from Intern Theory on the services they offer and the way they charge either students or companies to register with them....... 

Online Courses

Intern Theory is making its way into the informal education system. They have released a series of online courses on topics related to internships, which serve as a learning base for students and improves their employability before they apply for internships. The Intern Theory courses contain video learning lectures, with the content and production handled by professionals who are relevant and certified in their subject areas – university professors, for instance.............

On Campus Training

Training students online in preparation for getting good internships of their interest has over time become an important value adding and revenue generating activity at Intern Theory. During January to May 2017, the Intern Theory team tied up with KPB Hinduja College of Commerce in Mumbai to conduct on-campus training to prepare commerce students across batches for securing good internships. Moreover, suitable internship opportunities were created for students based on their preferences and their performance in the training modules conducted by Intern Theory........

Resume Ranking

The Intern Theory team is now working on a new feature on their website to ease the process of giving internships to the most deserving candidates. The basic idea is to automate the student filtering process for companies seeking suitable students for internships........

Future Plans

Anshini attributes the success of Intern Theory to the founding team which is enthusiastic, sincere and dedicated. “Intern theory is justifiably proud of the quality of service and the training that we provide. Our success is in the vast number of students who have registered and found internships through us. Our core team members were about the same age as our target audience when we started – we were at an advantage as we could relate to students and understand the student psyche,” said Anshini...............

Assignment Questions

I. Identify and assess the major product and pricing decisions taken by the entrepreneur team.
II...........
 

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Intern Theory Team

Exhibit II: Sample List of Companies Posting Internships at Intern Theory

Exhibit III: Growth of Intern Theory

Exhibit IV: Testimonials for Online Courses Offered by Intern Theory

Teaching Note Preview

Intern Theory

Synopsis

Intern Theory Career Solutions LLP (Intern Theory) was launched by four classmates midway through their four-year undergraduate studies at the Dwarkadas J. Sanghvi College of Engineering in Mumbai. Having experienced firsthand the difficulty of finding internships during their summer break, their startup aimed to help other students find short internships with companies. While some colleges assist their students to find course required internships, most colleges do not require internships as part of their coursework and hence do not assist their students in finding internships. However, many students are keen on internships as it enables them to learn by doing and to build their credibility as potential employees. On the other side, companies that offer students internships can get exploratory work or some time-bound work done at much lower costs. Moreover, they can possibly find good future employees from their own internship pool. The student startup used internal funds while operating within the Mumbai market but was soon funded against equity sale to expand its operations across India from their base in Mumbai. The team is now exploring new options to build their market on both sides – to get more college students to register for seeking internships and to get more companies to offer internships by removing any constraints that they may face. As a market maker, Intern Theory faced several unique implementation issues on both sides and found some unique opportunities to exploit. A major new initiative is to offer short online courses to college students that make them more internship ready. While their core internship service is not charged, the company charges students for their online training courses. New competitors are entering their market space. Students discuss options for the growth of Intern Theory.

Pedagogical Objectives

The case covers a student initiated two-sided market enterprise where both the sides are not charged for their core service offering but they are charged only for optional value-added services. The new market has many players as well as a fast-growing demand. To effectively compete in this new market, the company must create adequate value in its core service offering to generate enough service demand even though it cannot charge for it. Only when enough core service demand is generated, the company has the scope to charge for its optional value-added services to cover its operating costs and to generate some profits.

It is not clear how to compete effectively in this business in the face of growing competition that imitates their business model. The founders have started adding charged services that are of value to both sides of the market, but their competitors are matching them with similar value-added services. The case illustrates the difficulties of running an enterprise where the core customers are not charged for the core value provided by them due to perceived lack of willingness to pay. The entrepreneurs will therefore have to find sustainable ways to run their business such that it provides compelling benefits to both students and recruiters. They do so by creating new value-added services for the identified customers who are willing to pay after accessing many users through the initial value that they have created. The case illustrates how creating real value for users can potentially payoff even if those receiving the value created are unwilling to pay. This has potential applications in other market contexts with hard to sell products with perceived low willingness to pay..................

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Abstract

Intern Theory Career Solutions LLP (Intern Theory) was launched by Vamil Sangoi with three of his classmates, Dhruvi Dharia, Anshini Jhaveri and Jugal Choksi, midway through their four-year undergraduate studies at the Dwarkadas J. Sanghvi College of Engineering in Mumbai. Having experienced firsthand the difficulty of finding internships during their summer break, their startup (initially called Internup) aimed to help other students find short internships with companies. While some colleges assist their students to find course required internships, most colleges do not require internships as part of their coursework and even where required, many do not assist their students in finding internships.  Irrespective whether the course mandates internship or not, many students are keen on internships as it enables them to learn by doing and to build their credibility as potential employees. On the other side, companies that offer students internships can get exploratory work or certain time-bound work done at much lower costs. Moreover, they can possibly find good future employees from their own internship pool.

Later renamed as Intern Theory, the student startup used internal funds while operating within the Mumbai market but was soon funded against equity sale to expand its operations across India from their base in Mumbai. The team is now exploring new options to build their market on both sides – to get more college students to register for seeking internships and to get more companies to offer internships by removing any constraints that they may face. As a market maker, Intern Theory faced several unique implementation issues on both sides and found some unique opportunities to exploit. A major new initiative is to offer short online courses to college students that make them more internship ready. While the core internship service is not charged, the company charges students for online training courses. New competitors are entering their market space. This case study enables a discussion on the options for the survival and growth of Intern Theory.



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand and analyze the difficulties of running an enterprise where the core customers are not charged for the core value provided by them due to perceived lack of willingness to pay
  • To identify suitable ways for the entrepreneurs to run their business such that it provides compelling benefits to both students and recruiters
  • To understand how creating real value for users can potentially payoff even if those receiving the value created are unwilling to pay

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in BBA and MBA courses in Entrepreneurship and Marketing to teach the concept of product or service innovation. It can also be used as a case on 'two sided markets'.


* 4th FLAME International Conference on Research and Teaching Cases, June 21st 2018 & June 22nd 2018



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- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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