IITs – Inspiring and Nurturing Entrepreneurship
From guaranteeing a covetable job with a fat dollar pay cheque to creating businesspersons, the IITs in the country are fast emerging as a breeding ground for start-ups. An increasing number of IITians dare to tread a different and sometimes difficult path and reap rich dividend by choosing to become an entrepreneur. Professor Devang Khattar, Director at IIT-Bombay states, “Definitely, it is a good thing that IITians are taking up entrepreneurship and creating jobs for people. A good percentage of students are making this a career choice right in the fourth year of college.”
As an example take the CEO of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal, who is a graduate of mathematics and computer science from IIT Delhi. While he was still working with Bain & Company, he conceptualized Zomato. “To facilitate eating out, we used to upload scanned restaurant menus on an office intranet. The response was encouraging and we e kickstarted Zomato with a database of 1200 restaurants in Delhi NCR.”
This is just one example amidst the ocean of entrepreneurial ventures that have mushroomed at various IIT campuses. What is it that lures an IITian to entrepreneurship? Beas Dev Ralhan, an alumnus of IIT Bombay and also the CEO of Next Education, says, “IITians understand the simple funda of the risk/ reward ratio in life. You have nothing to lose when you are young. If you fail you can always start from bottom at corporations even after three years of graduation.” He explains that entrepreneurs are not really affected with lifestyle, money and perks that come along with jobs in the established firms. Goyal also adds, “A corporate job might offer you a comfortable profile with perks, however, eventually what matters is that you’re doing what you are most passionate about.”
Zomato and Next Education have both been successful in establishing themselves amongst the consumers. The annual turnover of the ventures is about 11.37 crore and Rs 150 crore respectively. IITians have also crossed boundaries of the technology institute and ventured out in businesses like travel, retail, technology, education, etc. Travel Triangle, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Knowlarity are some examples. However, wide spectrums of opportunities are yet to be explored.
So what is this ingredient of IIT teaching that inspires their graduates to choose entrepreneurship as a career choice? “IIT taught me one thing very well which is ‘don’t ever do anything which you are not passionate about because it will be passion of some other 1000 people on earth so you don’t stand a chance,” explains Ralhan.
Goyal discloses. “The biggest takeaways for me were focus, persistence and follow-through. Focus on the goal, perseverance in getting things done and the zeal to put the best product out there has helped immensely.” On asking what differentiates IITpreneurs from other entrepreneurs, Ralhan points out, “It cultivates in you the killer instinct to succeed at all cost.”
Usually IITpreneurs have a combination of BTech/ MTech and MBA (or equivalent qualification) from an ‘A’ listed institution. Does this equation work to become a successful entrepreneur? “If you ask me, there is no such formula. All you need to be a successful entrepreneur is a strong determination and the strength to put in hard work,” explains Ralhan. Goyal, who believes learning is most important and it happens beyond formal education as well, adds, “Learning at an institution like an IIT or getting an MBA equips you with the right skill set and attitude and helps you in moving closer towards your entrepreneurial goals.”
IITpreneurs recommend aspiring entrepreneurs to do “what you feel most zealously about, and until you do that, keep learning and working towards it”. “While campus placements offer students with great work opportunities, it depends on the person whether they’d like to work in a corporate set-up or start something of their own,” concludes Goyal.