IITians take road less traveled

By agencies   |   Monday, 12 June 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: 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, a newspaper reported.

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, the Economic Times said.

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 $10,000 per 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 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 percent of the IIT graduates went to the U.S. In the mid-1990s, marketing and finance MBAs from the IIMs were the fad. Says Rajeev Agrawal, CEO, Innoviti, “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 2005, IIT Mumbai works at Innoviti as a system design engineer. Says 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, the paper said.

Adds Ankur Lal (IIT Delhi, 1990 batch), CEO, Infozech, “IIT engineers are encouraged to be entrepreneurial. The incubation centers 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 neighborhood?”

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 centers 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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