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Spotting Entrepreneurs is a Fairly Multi-faceted Process Says IIM Professor Several students also take up project courses aimed at validating their business models or designing a go-tomarket strategy for their planned ventures

By Sneha Banerjee

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The Indian Insitute of Management franchise has given India some of the finest entrepreneurs and leaders. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Professor Amit Karna, Chairperson, Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, IIM Ahmedabad, helped us understand the course structure of these institutes, which nurtures entrepreneurship and leadership qualities in their students.

Speaking strictly about IIMA, Karna said, "Across different programs at IIMA, we offer
various courses that inspire and encourage students to take up entrepreneurship. These courses are sometimes
elective courses and in some programs also a part of core curriculum. These courses include developing entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurship and new venture planning and managing new and small firms. In addition, there are also courses in business model design, fund management, design thinking, innovation and creativity management that help our students learn these skills as a part of their curriculum,"

"Moreover, several students also take up project courses aimed at validating their business models or designing a go-tomarket strategy for their planned ventures. Such courses provide the students enough flexibility to work on their ideas, at the same time also enable them to earn academic credits as the projects are closely supervised by a faculty member. There are also regular speaker sessions and workshops arranged by CIIE and student entrepreneurship cell to inspire and encourage students to take up entrepreneurship."

Adapting to fluctuating market conditions
The start-up ecosystem in India has also evolved over the years. From being an investment friendly space, today
it has witnessed several shutdowns, decline in investments and varying government policy changes. An entrepreneur needs to be prepared to understand and adapt himself to the changes of this space. "The start-up job market has its ups and downs and our students are well-equipped to face the market trends. We have also supported those alumni who choose to take the entrepreneurial plunge after working for a company for a few months or years. We offer our graduating students the option to take up entrepreneurship under the "IIMAvericks Fellowship Program' that gives them an option to return to seek placements from the institute within two years and also supports them with mentoring and a sustenance allowance for a period of two years," Karna said.

Spotting the entrepreneur among executives
While the IIMs act as shepherds to many enterprising entrepreneurs in the country, Karna agreed to the fact that
not every student has the aptitude to become the owner of the next billion dollar unicorn. Speaking about the programs at IIMA, Karna said, "We have our IIMAvericks Fellowship Program that supports students to take up
entrepreneurship. The program is application based and the selection is done by a panel of faculty and entrepreneurship experts from CIIE. We also work closely with our students by organizing periodic "idea factory',
a two-hour session to brainstorm entrepreneurial opportunities across different sectors. We also discuss ideas on an individual basis with our students. In addition, there are also several competitions and programs that we run for our student community, in order to provide a platform to present their ideas. Many of these
competitions, such as Master Plan, are open to not only IIMA student teams, but also across those in other
management institutes.

The process of spotting entrepreneurs is a fairly multi-faceted and involves a variety of activities where we not only "spot' them, but also help those on the fence to make up their mind - either way." Experts have always believed that entrepreneurial talent is innate; true! But this does not take away credit from the fact that IIMs in our country have served as a talent pool for the entrepreneurial society. From VCs,
accelerators and entrepreneurs – these institutes have honed every form of talent which today contributed to the
start-up ecosystem. An environment that encourages students to experiment topped with an inventive coursework has the ability to produce more entrepreneurs in future.

(The article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine)

Sneha Banerjee

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

She used to write for Entrepreneur India from Bangalore and other cities in South India. 

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