Ninad Kulkarni Interview

Ninad Kulkarni is currently an FBLA Social Media Ambassador and the Chapter President at Pinnacle High School in Arizona. He has competed in the 2017-18 E-Business Event and placed 1st at Nationals with his teammates Bader Alrifai and Hayden Paoletti. He shares his wisdom of the process of creating and presenting a business website, all it’s nuts and bolts and headaches.

DT: When did you start working on your E-biz project?

NK: I think we started in October, we didn’t really work in the winter break because of Junior year, but the best time to start is winter break

DT: You previously said how you had no coding experience when you started the project is that right?

NK: Yes that is absolutely right, we started learning CSS, HTML, JavaScript and then we made the website

DT: What sources did you use to learn all this coding?

NK: The best source would be W3schools it's a free website that teaches you anything from HTML 3 to HTML5 and youtube video tutorials we also very helpful and you can also look up specific problems on stagnant websites

DT: Is most of the focus on the aesthetic appeal of the website?

NK: HTML does the structure of the website, like there's a text there’s a button, but CSS styles it, this button will look green and have this texture, but what JavaScript does is add interactions to your websites for example our website has unique click functions that can access a drop down. I suggest to make a flashy website that actually works. We have an auto cart you can incorporate by doing the math and implementing code.

DT: Ok, alright so after you learned coding what was the next step that you took?

NK:We were graphic designers so first we followed the design process.

But first you should research your competition guidelines, in our topic we were supposed to make a home delivery service.

We looked up last year’s topics to see what they did and we also looked up like the industry standard if you will. Then we did prototyping and brainstorming of how we can make our website look like the standard.

DT: What made you choose the theme of “Paoletti’s Kitchen”?

NK: The theme had to be home delivery service but for the name we brainstormed ideas and one of our team members was Hayden Paoletti and it sounded nice to have Paoletti’s kitchen. It had a home cooked feel to it.

DT: How well did you cooperate with your team and what method did you use to delegate tasks?

NK: So we kind of knew each other before we started so there was cohesion between us since we began, but the best way to organize and delegate work is to basically keep track of what everyone's doing. We had 3 members so I would do CSS and HTML the other person can do JavaScript and the third person could do the design process and coming up with ideas. So we kind of divided the work and it was all the same amount of workload that we were doing .

I would say I learned a bit, I did a few test websites just to sharpen my skills and for regionals and states we did not do many features. For example, our website did not work on the phone. There was kind of progression: as we learned more skills we applied more skill to the website.

DT: That makes sense, how many hours a week did u put in every since you started in October?

NK: Oh it's actually funny because we really procrastinated a lot. And we basically finished right at the the deadline. We had to code the whole day, it was not fun. It was due right after we came back from winter break but after that we learned our lesson and for nationals we paced ourselves. Pacing is extremely important for this event.

DT: How much preparation have you done for the business part of it of presenting your website, explaining it, and answering questions?

NK: Here’s the thing, we joined FBLA through our graphic design class so we didn't really know how the business side works, so we kind of had to figure it out ourselves. The way we thought about it was that we were making a website for a preexisting company who would buy our product and integrate it into theirs. So we prepared a pitch for that and then reverse engineered it to sound as if we were the company explaining our product through the website.

NK: They throw curveballs at you. They’ll ask you how many employees do you have, and we said “Oh 100”. You can use absurd number if you justify it. If you are not business oriented you should work really hard on being able to answer these type of questions.

DT: Is there any last advice you would like to give to people that are competing in this event?

NK: My advice would be not to make the same mistake that we did which is not pacing ourselves. You also have to keep in mind what your competition is. For example this years prompt is very vague so you get a lot more flexibility with your topic. Still keep in mind the business you’re doing, keep up with the industries standards. Make sure to keep in mind that this is E-business, as much as coding matters, business matters too, you have to keep a balance between both.