What IITs and Others Can Learn from BITS Pilani’s Successful Startup Machine
At the heart of India’s new wave of startups, lies a uniting factor: their Alma Mater. As keen observers of India’s startup ecosystem, it is impossible for us to miss that the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani, Rajasthan, has been churning out entrepreneurs, quite a lot more than others.
Some of the newest startups from BITS Pilani include GharPay, Zivame & Exotel. Founders of redBus, the bus ticketing business which sold to Naspers for $138 mn, trace their roots to the deemed university now headed by top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla.
Although many Indian colleges pay lip service to entrepreneurship (cells), very few actually do something about it. Campuses that have strong entrepreneurial culture can be of a big boost to the economy. Take for example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The total revenues of all active companies founded by MIT graduates will cross $2 trillion- that’s more than India’s gross domestic product (GDP)!
Over the past 5 years there has been a rise in both the number as well as the maturity of the startups coming out of the Rajasthan based college. One of the entrepreneurship programs in the university is looking at over 100 startups in its pipeline! This pretty much unheard of in other institutions.
Startups like Scripbox, Online Prasad, Grey Orange Robotics, Forus Health, BigBasket and Attune have co-founders from BITS Pilani.
Inspite of not being an “Indian Institute of Technology”, BITS Pilani has been able to build and sustain a brand of its own. The culture and mentorship shared by the alumni and the new batch of students is one that seems to have a strong connect with alumnis and has sustained through a very long time.
What’s the secret? Well, a great mix of freedom and the right attitude to entrepreneurship.
redBus, one of the most recent Internet success stories in India was founded by BITS graduates Phanindra Sama, Sudhakar Pasupunuri and Charan Padmaraju. Preetish Nijhawan the co-founder of Nasdaq listed Akamai technology, Sabir Bhatia of Hotmail and Manoj Saxena of Webify are all from BITS. Gullu Mirchandani of Onida, Gagan Chaddha of Value First and Rajesh Hukku who sold iFlex to Oracle for $900 mn are also BITS.