On a mission to connect with the country’s IT geeks
Twenty three-year-old Pranay Metta is on a mission. He is riding solo from Kanyakumari to Kargil to create micro-communities of students and freelancers.
Metta is the community head at Fountane LLC, an information technology consulting company based in Hyderabad. "I have been passionate about travelling and wanted to shoot a travel documentary, but nothing materialised," he said, currently stuck in a blizzard in Kashmir. His dream came true when his employers decided to create a pool of talent in India. Fountane Maker Space has funded this project, while Backpackers and Traveller India and Travel Affairs have helped logistically.
On his journey he has stopped at various eminent institutions such as VIT, SRM, Gitam, IIT-H, IIT-B, Symbiosis and BITS. He says, "Our goal is to increase the efficiency of freelancing in the student community and promote skill development." Fountane does this through its pet project, Fountane Clubs. He has interacted with nearly 500 students and freelancers. "People are keen to interact with you if you are interesting. Travelling solo on a motorcycle to spread a business idea is unique. I believe people connect faster this way," he added.
By the end of October, the firm hopes to have 1,440 freelancers based out of 36 communities. Each community has 40 members. He has also formed a network of bloggers, travellers and bikers in coordination with Zostel, Riding Sultans of Ahmedabad and other such organisations.
As the world moves towards a gig economy, Fountane Clubs give college students the opportunity to earn and study at the same time. They receive hands-on experience, which is missing in many IT colleges, says Metta. Companies prefer candidates with a bit of experience and this is where Fountane Clubs come in. It acts as a facilitator between the students and companies.
Students who become part of these clubs are ranked from level one to 10. Fountane trains them as well. Coders on the lower levels work on projects that Fountane gives them. As they climb the levels, they get better projects. A coder on the seventh or eighth level has the opportunity to work on projects with outside companies. The pay is good as well. Keeping with industry standards, Fountane pays freshers around ~250,000 per annum. Coders on level 9 get to work on projects that are worth $100,000, said Metta.
"Our coders are trained to solve technological problems across various verticals: From health care to restaurants to IT," said Nikhil Srivatsa, chief technology officer at Fountane, adding: "In the US, people want to start earning from college, but that is not the case in India. Freelancers and students in India want to work on quality assignments. However, they do not have the source to reach these projects."
Raghavendra Gautam, a final year computer science student at Gitam and a coder with Fountane, said, "Fountane allows me to learn and earn. It does not affect my college schedule as I work on weekends. What I learn here is different from the lessons taught in college, which are bookish.”
Fountane, in a manner, leases out its coders to its clients, some of which are start-ups. These firms prefer coders who work on projects rather than hiring full-time employees, which is a costly affair. Sarat Chandra, head of operations at UIPEP Technologies, a Bengaluru-based startup, said, "Fountane is unique because it has a proper structure. Their coders are trained and pick up things fast. Just having bookish knowledge does not really help while coding real-time projects."
"Skill is as important as experience. They are not exclusive of each other. Interns who are better than experienced employees deserve more," said Metta.
Pranay Metta interacting with students at Thakur College of Engineering and Technology, Mumbai