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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

IIM-A grads give a lukewarm response to entrepreneurship; but all mint gold in the end

Ahmedabad It is a fact that very few students who pass out of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), opt for entrepreneurship. This year only eight students of the total 281 who graduated, opted for entrepreneurship. But those who have done so are all pursuing a success path.
IIM-A Director Samir Barua says: “There is a policy by the name of ‘Placement Holiday’ at IIM-A wherein ex-students, who have opted for entrepreneurship, can approach the institute for placements. But not a single application has been made under the scheme till now, indicating the success of the entrepreneurship ventures.”

The start-ups have also been as diverse as they possibly can be.

Rohit Shankar and Nikhil Vaswani, who passed out of IIM-A in 2006, operated a pilot fitness centre at Gandhinagar for over a year, before starting their first wellness centre, ‘Wellocity’, in the heart of western Ahmedabad in February 2008. After a year of operations, it has 600 active members, with an 80 per cent renewal rate. Rohit adds: “We will soon come up with another centre in Rajkot. Diversification into ‘Healthy Food Joints’ and ‘Corporate Parks’ is also in the pipeline.”

Another IIM-A graduate, who is helping Gujaratis to remain healthy is Sidharth Jaiswal, a 2008 pass out. He started his joint, ’Juice’, where 69 certified organic and natural drinks are served. “We are also working in ‘Organic Farming’ with farmers from Gujarat and Bihar, and taking care of front-end as well as back-end operations of the business,” Sidharth says. His plans include opening ‘Juice’ outlets in Mumbai, Gurgaon and Delhi soon.

It is not only the service industry that has attracted IIM-A graduates. Akshat Khare and Sudhindra Tatti, both 2007 pass-outs, started a company, ‘Pegasus Semiconductors’, which manufactures Solar Energy powered LED Lighting Systems, both for homes and streets.

“Our USP is the price which is about two times lower then the conventional solar lighting systems,” Akshat says. Recently, Pegasus has started operating its own manufacturing facility in Gandhinagar, employing 12 people. Another successful venture includes ‘Mantis Technologies’, a provider for online ticketing platform for the bus industry in India using Software As A Service (SAAS) model, and ‘Bipler’, an Internet media company aiming to provide quality entertainment content.

The foremost reason for the low rate of entrepreneurship ventures from IIM-A, according to these brave-hearts is that the incubation centre at IIM-A supports only technology-related ventures.

“This leaves a big chunk of those who want to establish something new at the grassroots or in the service industry, out of the loop,” says Sidharth.

Akshat adds, “Factors like high opportunity cost, the high risk involved and earlier returns also aids the decision.” Another trend observed is that some graduates believe that a certain amount of work experience is essential before starting their own ventures. So they just delay their entrepreneurship ambitions by a few years.


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