My experience; It was pleasure Visiting Deshpande Foundation and understanding LEAD program, says Adithya.

Posted on Friday, September 05, 2014 by LEAD

Adithya ‎Pasupuletis (CEO at Innovation 101) visited Deshpande Foundation as a visitor and a guest for the 20 days workshop on design thinking that was organized by LEAD in the month of June, 2014. On his return to his place Adithya has compiled his two days experience at LEAD below.

Deshpande Foundation, Hubli

Its been a while since all this happened, but its worth writing about it.

On 27th June, 2014, I visited Deshpande Foundation to meet Rajan Patel, a facilitator for design thinking workshop to see what he was up to there. I have heard of Deshpande Foundation before, but never had a chance to visit the place. When I visited, I had a very warm welcome by the staff there at the foundation. The organization was set up inside a college called BVB College of Engineering and Technology, Hubli. The organization had such open culture which I believe is the key to its growth. They asked me to speak to the students.  
To give a context to why I was there at Deshpande foundation, here is a small story that happened before I visited. I am passionate about student innovations and entrepreneurship which is the reason for me to start Innovation 101, an organization that supports student innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs. My underlying philosophy is to enable students to solve problems from their community while they are still in colleges and schools. If every student commits to solve one community problem during their student life, then we can only imagine how best that would be for our country. Most of my friends knew that I was working in this domain and just then one of my friend shared about the workshop that was being conducted at Deshpande foundation. When I looked it up on the net, it was similar to that of the ones that we conduct at Innovation 101. As soon as I got to know about the workshop (on design thinking for undergraduate students), I was sure that I had to talk to the facilitator to know more about it. I tried to schedule a phone call with Rajan, but that did not happen as he was pre-occupied with conducting workshop. With my earlier experience in conducting such workshops, I knew how tiring it gets at the end of the day both for the student as well as the facilitator. So I told him that I would like to visit and Rajan readily agreed for it. 

Rajan Patel is a student at Harvard Kennedy School of Government MPA Candidate and Stanford Graduate School of Business(MBA).He spent three weeks of his summer at Hubli in Deshpande Foundation to conduct Innovation, Design and entrepreneurship workshop for the students there. Besides training students, he also spent time training the faculty about the process of design thinking to ensure they understood the context for future workshops.

What is design thinking and why is it important?
Design thinking a simple process of understanding what the pain points of your user is and developing a solutions for them through iterative process. 

Empathize :  Understand your user and the problem they face.
Define       :  Defining the problem and what is needed for your user
Ideate        :  Brainstorm solutions for the problem that you have defined in the earlier step
Prototype   : Make simple first generation prototype that looks like your solution
Test           :  Put the solution into the hands the user and take feedback from them

When you solve someone's problem, your confidence levels and leadership capabilities increases several folds.
On the day one, I spent time with the students of Lead Leadership Program (LLP) which is a residential program that train students on leadership and problem solving. I had a chance to speak to them on how they can look at every challenge in their community as opportunity and build solutions around it. I was then taken to the Lead team by the coordinator, Guru. At the foundation, I met some remarkable people like Naveen Jha, Ajay Suman, Sunil Kumar, Amrut Patil, Stanley and several others from core team. The LEAD Innovation team was just back from their field visit that day and Rajan introduced me to them. I took a short session on the concept of structured innovation and how it could be used in their day to day lives to identify problems and solve them to the students from the Design thinking workshop, interns and staff of Nanopix company.  

On the second day, I was completely involved with the students in preparing for their final presentations of the design thinking workshop. I sat with each team and worked on improving  their presentations. Each team was trying to solve a real problem that an NGO was suffering with in real life. These NGOs were not able to solve their problems due to technical barriers and lack of manpower with right skillset. However, the students at Deshpande foundation were enthusiastic enough to learn the process of identifying and solving problems in just three weeks.  They visited the NGOs that the foundation has partnered with to identify problems. Eventually, they proposed solutions to the NGOs and took feedback. They iterated on the solutions several times to come up with final concept that they would want to build further.

The final presentations started off and students were at their best!  We concluded the session with a talk by Rajan, Naveen, Sunil, Ajay and myself sharing our experiences for making them realize they are leaders. After the presentations, currently these students are trying to implement these solutions with the NGOs and respective organizations they worked to identify challenges. 

It was a pleasure to have visited the Deshpande Foundation and see their amazing work. I hope to empower more students with the tools of design thinking to solve problems. My target is 1000 student entrepreneurs for this year 2014. I have trained 450 students till date in innovation and entrepreneurship. I hope to reach out to the rest and train them in the coming months. Please feel free to reach out to me at if you are interested in working in similar lines or if you have any queries.  

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