Yash Parikh, PGDM EBiz, 2016-2018 Batch

‘Beyond the walls’ chats with Yash Parikh, PGDM EBiz, 2016-2018 Batch, S.P. Mandali’s Welingkar Institute of Management (WeSchool), Bengaluru on life and his invention ‘Elysium’,an Artificial Intelligent bot he designed specially for WeSchool, Bengaluru Campus.

My story is more or less the same as every average student in India. I was born and brought up in Mumbai. I come from a diverse academic background. I was a regular B.Com graduate until I completed a GNIIT degree that introduced me to the world of software and coding skills (beginner’s level).

Technology has always fascinated me. I have always been self-learning everything related to computers ever since my childhood…right from learning how to turn on a PC for the first time in life to learning basics like copying files from a folder or learning to create my first AI project.

However, being a student coming from a Commerce background with almost basic level of coding knowledge was a bit challenging to get myself noticed in the Tech industry and for landing with a job in any of the tech giants ahead.

So, I decided to do something on my own that would bring me some recognition in the online space and get noticed.

I created a full functional website named “Tech Nations 360” back in 2015 that gave tech news to its readers. I created the website from the scratch by watching videos. I never knew what did those fancy words meant, jargons like “DNS” “Domain” “Web hosting” were all  new and unknown to me. I recall borrowing Rs 4000 from my dad and investing it in buying a domain name from GoDaddy. Within a week’s time, surprisingly it attracted a lot of traffic from all over the world. It helped me rank in Google searches and even earn money from Google for selling ads. That’s when I took my second step “Digital Marketing”. I later got connected to Digital Marketing in order to rank my site and for its high traffic needs. I got certified from Google for Adwords and it helped me add some weight into my CV.

Slowly I could see tech giants follow me on Twitter, mostly I added their names on my website for some or the other news updates.

In  2015, I graduated and started preparing for my MBA entrance. I got admission at WeSchool, Bangalore in 2016. With time, I was exposed to the know-hows of tech industry living in the IT hub of India. My project during the PGDM program  led me to research about the next “Billion Dollar” industry and technologies to boom in the coming years. I came across technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain etc. I became acquainted to the companies working on these technologies and the ones implementing them for their enterprise use. I watched videos on YouTube about these technologies. It dawned on me how these technologies could impact the lives of about 7 billion people on this planet in the future. Without another thought I focussed towards developing my knowledge base and upskilling myself in the field of AI. This is where “Elysium AI” took shape and I created my first AI bot. Today I have completed my MBA and also have been placed at IBM India. My journey affirms my belief that we don’t really need to wait for someone or get dependent on someone to learn something new.

Afterall we live in an age where information is freely available at your fingertips. We need to simply harness the power of the internet for good and use it to build a new and a better version of ourselves to help us reach our goals.

The worries I had three years ago back in 2015 that how could a person like me who literally with no knowledge about IT, no engineering background and no awareness about coding and Tech Jargons, land up with a job in a Tech giant, were now gone.

Today when I look back, my road to this point would be incomplete without the learning and experiences. Maybe that’s why my worry turned out to be my only reason to move ahead and make my own way to where I wanted to be. This got proven when I, who was the only student coming from a Commerce background (B.Com), got hired by IBM apart from my other engineering background mates.

I am even more determined to walk on this path of self-learning. I will definitely make mistakes during the learning process, but eventually, it will reduce and help me fix my legs deep into that work and master it ahead.

For more information, request you to visit my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/yashparikh18

What do you enjoy doing the most on campus and off campus?

Well, I love being with my friends and living the memories of a “Hostel Life” off campus since this was my first ever hostel experience, and the time when I got to go out of my comfort zone away from home. On campus, I spent most of the time in lectures and presentations throughout the year and the rest of the time, just using some college resources and getting mentored by some of the best minds present there for my overall development. I reminse the time during exams when all of  studied together in groups,  wasted time talking and having fun and then realizing that there is an exam to be held in a few hours. I have spent most of my time hanging around with my friends, going out and reaping the nightlife of Bangalore, since that is the kind of a person I am. At the end of the week, I needed to be out with my friends, chilling at some place and enjoying life. I really don’t believe in just working around all day and having no fun or enjoyment of life in the end. I would rather believe in the “Work & Play” life where in you balance both so that you don’t have to regret about any in the future. Work hard and Party hard :D

Introduce us to Elysium

So, Elysium is an Artificial Intelligent bot that is made especially for my B-School (Welingkar, Bangalore). It is like a personal assistant that is injected with AI at its core. It helps the students and faculties/staff of my college to get done with the daily college work. It can also help other people get info about the college. Some of the work that Elysium can help you get done are-

  • Get student/ faculty details like Name , Contact number, Course enrolled, Roll number, Marks obtained, Faculty type (visiting/permanent), faculty contact details etc
  • Get time table details for the week
  • Elysium can tell you , what’s there to eat in the canteen at that day
  • Give details about the college and hostel to the users like directions, distance, contact details, photos
  • Give basic info about the college like Faculty names, courses offered, Placement Cell information, Fees related stuff etc
  • Schedule meetings with various members of the college like Dean, faculties with the student or an outsider.

The idea of Elysium came into existence,during one of my “Cognitive Business” lecture where we were given a project on AI. I am not a programmer/ Engineer and I have never built anything like this ever before.

I was always fascinated with technology and being aware of the fact that technologies like Artificial Intelligence , Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and Machine Learning are the future and also the next “Billion dollar industry” where the world is heading today, it was very important for me being a technology student to keep myself updated about  it, which is why I decided to take this up as a challenge and started learning and understanding of how Elysium could be created by a non- programmer like me.

It took me about 29 hours to create Elysium, of which 18 hours were just spent in learning about how an AI- chatbot could be made. I gained key insight about it from  internet and by watching YouTube videos in those 18 hours.

Finally after understanding and learning, I started implementing my learnings into some materialistic domain where I first started building the bot on IBM’s Watson platform powered by – Bluemix. However, I later shifted to some other platform due to some limitations that I was facing with IBM’s Watson during that time. After about 29 hours, Elysium was born.

It is built only for my WeSchool currently, but in future Elysium could be personalized to run for any colleges around the globe, where faculties and students could get their day to day college work done just by texting Elysium. However, Elysium is still in its early stages of development and I am committed to constantly make it better and improve its knowledge with the help of AI.

Imagine a world where all these things can be done just by normally chatting with a system. Every education institute around the globe could customize Elysium to their needs. No need to employ people to take calls for such queries. Convenient and at the ease of your fingertips.

After about 16 rejections by Facebook, it finally got approved after meeting with their terms and regulations/ minimum guidelines to be met before being accepted on the platform.

Elysium currently runs on Facebook’s Messenger Platform. It is soon coming on Google’s Assistant platform (almost 500 million devices could run Elysium) and I am trying to work on bringing it to the most used platform by everyone – Whatsapp.

Elysium got recognized and appreciated by my faculties and fellow mates . It eventually helped me get published on most popular platforms like YourStory, InsideIIM , CatKing and The Hindu. You could visit them by going through my LinkedIn Profile mentioned above.

Elysium’s Website- https://yashparikhwe.wixsite.com/elysium

According to you what gives birth to invention?

From what I have learned, I believe it’s the combination of dedication, eagerness to work on a problem and possible solutions,  the ability to THINK out of the box & innovatively, able to take things from the idea stage to the execution stage. Working on something until you are able to remove the letters “I” & “M” from the word impossible to make it possible. The combination of these factors along with lots of patience and ability to face rejections and failures gives birth to what we call as Invention. Afterall, the journey from inventing a big size telephone to having a super powerful Smartphone today wasn’t completed in a day or a two. It took decades.

Tell us some memorable incidents from the time of putting together Elysium until now

Clubbing my entire two years of MBA life at Bangalore, everything has been memorable for me. I have got to witness both the good and bad side of life in these two years. But all of this has made me stronger, and a better version of myself. I am blessed to have got amazing and true friends with me without whom this journey would have been a bit tedious. But the most memorable incidents from the time of putting Elysium until now would be the day when I got placed. I was pretty clear after doing homework and research on the companies that I would like to see myself in. Figuratively , I just wanted to get myself placed into one company I desired. Somewhere, I had also taken risks by not applying to any other companies during the placement time. But, still, my guts always led me to take that risk and aim for one and work for it as much as I could. I started preparing for that day three months prior, day and night as I had only one shot to get it. However, I feel that Elysium has played a vital role in bringing my dream come true and granting me lots of recognition, appreciation both on campus and off campus. WeSchool and my overall MBA life at Bangalore will always be cherished and remembered by me. Each day has been a new learning experience where with every new challenges and problems, we got stronger , wiser, efficient and experienced enough to face the bigger ones the next day. I think that is what MBA is all about. It’s more of a practical experience than the bookish and theoretical study.

What’s your inspiration?

I believe technology when used for good can make a difference. It could make our lives better and convenient.  I was always inspired by the thought of contributing towards the betterment of the world through technology. I always wanted to make technology be available to everyone on this planet. Maybe that’s why I didn’t choose to pursue engineering in the first place earlier. Still, today my inspiration made me create something for my college and it will always inspire me to work for the betterment of the world, to make the world a better, safer, cleaner, peaceful place to live in. This can be done with technology and its my only inspiration that inspires me to keep working in this domain.

What are your thoughts on ‘sustainability’?

With the level of competition rising each year, it is really important for a person to SUSTAIN. It could be done by being updated with the latest know-how of the industries and their future roadmaps, the ability to make the best use of our time to work on ourselves in order to meet the requirements of the industry, the ability to remain Agile and flexible to the changing demands and needs of the industry and being able to be equipped with the knowledge to use the latest technologies. If you are not able to “sustain” , you will be immediately replaced by someone better in today’s world. We are our own competition, And each day we should try to defeat our older versions with our better versions of ourselves. There is talent available everywhere, and it wont take a minute for us from being replaced if we are not able to sustain to be the best. One key way to keep ourselves sustainable always is ‘to learn’. The day we stop learning about things around us, we become outdated.

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