Does a background in IIT/IIM or any A-league business school really matter in the Indian startup space? Does it act like a “selling factor” to an investor who is willing to bet a fortune on an entrepreneur’s vision?
On speaking to a couple of industry experts , we realised that an A-league institute does not carry the guarantee to success for entrepreneurs. However, a top A-league college definitely helps you slip into a influential and magnetic network.
Success stories like Infosys to startup barons like Ola, Flipkart, Zomato and many more, have stemmed from founders who hailed from A-league Indian institutes. This has lead to creation of generalization in the industry that top-notch college pass-outs have a higher success rate. So much so, that at a recent crowd pitch event, an entrepreneur introduced himself as an IITian first and then went on to speak about his product.
Does it matter at all?
College background does not come with the assurance of success in startups. Many startups, which recently shut shops like PepperTap and TalentPad, had founders belonging to top institutes. “A degree with a top notch institute indicates the fact that you’ve done really well at one point of time in your life. It’s possibly an indicator of how you could do in the future, but it’s not the only indicator. There are other indicators as well,” Anup Vishwanathan, Venture Principal at Venture Factory said.
Success stories such as Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Freshdesk’s Girish MathruBootham, act as an inspiration for all non-IITians who want to enter the startup ecosystem in India.
Amit Somani, Managing Partner at Prime Venture Partners, said that entrepreneurship is not the proprietary of an IIT or an IIM student alone. Amit said that Prime Ventures, which is into seed funding, does not take its decisions based on college backgrounds alone. However, Amit also noted that some venture investors, who are flooded with thousands of funding requests, some of them could use the tag as a potential marker.
Access to the best of networks
More than influencing the investors’ decision making, belonging to an ivy league colleges helps you get access to some of the most powerful networks, both national and internationally. A lot of references are made within alumni circles at top league institutes. It’s what one student makes out of his time at these institutes that really matters.
Punit Soni, ex-chief product officer of Flipkart who also hails from Wharton School, said when one joins an A-league institute he basically becomes a part of a club. These clubs have their own advantages without any ill-intent and there is no harm in using that as a source of expanding ones network, he said.
John McEleney, CEO of Cambridge-based OnShape, said that more than where the degree comes from, it’s the set of people one meets and the networks you create during your tenure at the institute which makes a difference.