By Bret Piatt
Nov 21, 2017
This past Saturday, November 18, episode 60 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Hitish Nathani, Founder and Chief Innovator at the Learning Company within Alamo Colleges.
In the first half of the show, Hitish introduced himself and explained his experience with Alamo Colleges, which includes nine years on the faculty of St Philip’s College. While at St Philip’s, Hitish explains that he also started a business the Bombay Salsa Co. a food truck offering Indian fare. These two experiences in education and entrepreneurship led Hitish to develop the idea of the Learning Company, a public-private partnership within the Alamo Colleges system.
Hitish then explained the Alamo Colleges system in more detail and spoke about it’s unique characteristics, including St Philip’s, America’s only Historically Black College also recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution. At a system-wide level the colleges serve 50,000 students, and are the largest education institution in the city. This scale Hitish explained directly led to the development of the Learning Company as the Colleges have been focused on outside-the-box thinking to create opportunities on a scale that can impact their students.
To create these opportunities, the Learning Company works with students from all campuses to help them start businesses in every field, the current cohort ranges from healthcare apps to food trucks. The curriculum works through everything that students need to do to start a business, from ideation to customer segmentation and marketing. They do this using content that was designed for graduate students but has been adapted to make it accessible to everyone.
We then discussed the Learning Company in the broader context of entrepreneurship in San Antonio and Hitish spoke about how he sees his work as complementary with the work being done at Launch SA and SA Works (see our Episode 59 interview with Nicole McNish and Shauna Goodman from SA Works).
In the second half of the show, Hitish spoke in more detail about the Learning Company program and some of the startups he is now working with. He explained that he is going campus to campus right now telling students what it takes to start a business (short answer, not very much) and designing smaller programs to run across different campuses for the cohort starting in the Spring Semester.
Two of the firms Hitish said he was most excited about are in the powder coating and mobile salon markets. Hitish explained that he is working with the founders of both to help them narrow down on targetable niches, so for the mobile salon firm, he is looking at the nursing care market explaining that salon treatment is a form of preventative care for many patients, while with the powder coating market they are focusing on finding the most profitable niche which will provide the funds to go into other areas, and right now they are focusing on the personalized firearm market for that.
We conclude our discussions by arching back to the Learning Company’s goals, teaching every different kind of business model, and beginning by teaching personal finance.
To learn more, listen to the full episode replay available here!
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