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IITians joining startups June 13, 2006

Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, india, startup, technology.
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[Via Economic Times] – After slogging it out at IITs across the country, graduate engineers are giving up jobs with the bluest of the blue chips to work at start-ups. And as a result, a Silicon Valley type start-up culture is taking roots in India. This is very different from what the earlier batches of IIT graduates did: go to the US or slog another two years at the IIMs to land a plum job.

27 graduates out of the 35-student electrical engineering batch at IIT Mumbai have opted for jobs with start-ups rather than top-tier companies.

 

Garage start-ups like Innoviti in Bangalore, Generic Systems in Mumbai and Kritikal in Delhi (incubated at IIT Delhi) is where IIT engineers find it more gratifying to work. Such companies could well be India Inc’s shining stars of tomorrow much like Infosys, Wipro, TCS and i-flex are today.

Sample this: 27 graduates out of the 35-student electrical engineering batch at IIT Mumbai have opted for jobs with start-ups rather than top-tier companies. Vinay Salva (IIT Mumbai) landed a job with ST Microelectronics for Rs 4.5 lakh a year through campus placement. Two of his colleagues landed jobs with the Boston Consulting Group and Appian (a software company). However, the three of them had a common interest in ‘mechatronics’ (a combination of electrical and mechanical engineering) and thus they started a company around it called Generic Systems. It has become a trend among IITians to work at such start-ups. The risks are high but then, so are the rewards.

Says Mr Salva, director, Generic Systems, “The jobs are not scarce. It’s just that our interest could not have been satiated at any of the blue-chip companies.”

Till the early 1990s, almost 90% of the IIT graduates went to the US. In the mid-1990s, marketing and finance MBAs from the IIMs were the fad. Says Rajeev Agrawal, CEO, Innoviti, (IIT-1990 batch), “In the past couple of years there has been a move back to engineering. We are able to attract recent IIT graduates. The starting salary at start-ups can be more than double of that offered in any of the top tier IT services companies.”

Vibhu Manya, batch of ’05, IIT Mumbai works at Innoviti as a system design engineer. Says Mr Manya, “As an engineer, I wanted to create something. With a big company like Intel or ST Microelectronics, I would have been just a small cog in the wheel. Here, I can suggest and see my changes take shape.” Another recent IIT graduate Gaurav Kaurang never went for campus placement interviews and instead started his own company.

Adds Ankur Lal (IIT Delhi, 1990 batch), CEO, Infozech, “IIT engineers are encouraged to be entrepreneurial. The incubation centres at the campus have helped a lot in boosting the start-up trend. Lot of the recent graduates have seen their seniors return to India from the US. They are asking why should they go abroad when opportunities are in the neighbourhood?”

Getting a funding of around $100,000 for a start-up is not too difficult for graduates with a sound business model. Says Kamal Aggarwal, vice-president, marketing and strategy with SoftJin (an electronic design automation company), “The generic software companies cannot match the compensation that some of the start-ups can offer. The incubation centres at IITs have accelerated the garage start-up trend. This is also helping to create a Silicon Valley-type entrepreneurial culture in India.”

 

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Comments»

1. ann michael - June 13, 2006

This is really interesting. I especially like this line:

Says Mr Manya, “As an engineer, I wanted to create something. With a big company like Intel or ST Microelectronics, I would have been just a small cog in the wheel. Here, I can suggest and see my changes take shape.”

While I know you’re focusing on India here, it’s interesting to me to see people opting out of corporate America in general to pursue their own interests and have a higher impact. More and more people don’t want to be cogs in anyone’s wheel anymore!

2. Vaibhav Domkundwar - india 2.0 - June 13, 2006

Rajat:

Definitely an interesting development, but I still think its too little too late. It may be interesting to really find out how many of these startups are early stage startups where IITians take a lower salary for the excitement of working at a startup. I bet this number won’t be encouraging.

I agree a 100% that there is a clear shift – but the media needs to push it further saying this is just the start (which came too late) and India needs to cultivate a startup culture that Israel has successfully development for the last two decades.

Best,
-Vaibhav

3. Murali - June 15, 2006

Thats a welcome news. I don’t think it is too late, because graduates from other colleges have started this a long back. Graduates from other colleges have ventured in to this brave path IITians havenot taken for a while, when IITians are busy getting jobs in multinationals. IITians haven’t shown any promise to the rise of India as such other than producing good employees to multinationals. Now that would change for a good thing. Remember now media will focus on these startups, giving the attention they deserve. That is a good thing, whether these guys from IITs tick at startups or not.

4. INSPIONS » IIT-ians joining startups - Thought Garage by Murali - June 16, 2006

[…] Rajat’s DreamOn blog : Post here. […]

5. Biswajyoti - January 4, 2009

Is is indeed very inspirational to see such entrepreneurial steps taken by IITians. But one thing I wud like to mention is that all the startups have been crudely technical and appeal to a very small percentage of Indian population. It would be very remarkable to witness a start up that spreads to the rurals , that can affect a typical Indian villager’s life.


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