Entrepreneurship. Valuations. Venture Capitalists. Exits.
One cannot escape the buzzwords these days. Reflecting the soaring startup environment in the country, IIMA has seen a distinct push towards inculcating and encouraging an entrepreneurial attitude in the student body, and providing substantive support to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Integral to this are the institutions and the people involved. Unknown to many students, the Centre for Incubation Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) is the largest incubator in the country. The vibrant ceramic tree at the entrance welcomes you with the slogan of “fostering innovation driven entrepreneurship”, leading to spaces both exciting and solemn at the same time. A hotbed of startup activity across a number of sectors, CIIE is a rich resource for aspiring entrepreneurs at IIMA.
CIIE has 44 faculty members associated with it, either directly or indirectly, making it the body at IIMA with the highest faculty involvement. All faculty members are always willing to assist students in every way they can, from giving their expert opinions, connecting you to the right individuals and organizations, or just providing some necessary encouragement. From an academic perspective, two new courses have been introduced for PGP2s: Having an Entrepreneurial Mindset (HEM) is a compulsory course offered by a wide range of CIIE faulty, and an elective on Design Thinking – a practical framework that helps entrepreneurs navigate the haze of entrepreneurship.
A landmark move by the Institute has been the IIMAvericks Internship Program, now in its second year of operation. For the uninitiated, under this program, PGP1 students may opt out of the summer placements and work on their startup ideas ideas during April and May. To cover their travel, accommodation and food expenses, interns receive a stipend of Rs. 15,000 per month. With the opportunity to work with total freedom on an idea of one’s passion, while being mentored by CIIE, along with the security of final placements, the Mavericks Internship Program is the ideal platform to test one’s entrepreneurial mettle.
An alternative to the Mavericks Internship is the Entre Fair, organized by the Entre Cluba few weeks before the summer placements. On the lines of job fairs, startups line up to attract students to internships that usually involve working closely with the CXOs of the firm – dotted with offers to become CXOs yourselves.
The Mavericks Fellowship Program, on the other hand, is a two-year program that allows PGP2s and PGPX to opt out of final placements. Mavericks Fellows work on their startups while still being associated with IIMA. Fellows receive a stipend of Rs. 30,000 per month. With the same perks as those for Mavericks Internship, this is a coveted option for every entrepreneur. Fellows have the choice to return for final placements at any time during the two years. Historically, with hardly anyone choosing thus, it is little more than a pacifier for the almost inevitable opposition from the entrepreneur’s family.
Often a milestone event for anyone with an entrepreneurial seed – and even otherwise – is Prof. Sunil Handa’s legendary Laboratory in Entrepreneurial Motivation (LEM) sessions. An IIMA alumnus and a highly successful entrepreneur himself, Prof Handa’s LEM sessions have inspired hundreds of students all across the country to embark on the path of entrepreneurship. A must-attend for every PGP1, he outlines with emotional candour and a moving force why a corporate job is not the best utilization of an IIMA graduate’s abilities and that the financial rewards of entrepreneurship can be far higher than what a corporate career has to offer. For a number of the current Mavericks Interns, including yours truly, the LEM sessions played a significant role in pushing them towards the path less trodden.
From the students’ side too, facilitating entrepreneurship is gaining traction. The Entre Club remains active throughout the year and hosts a number of events including speaker sessions and panel discussion, and conducts activities such as the Management Clinic and the Entre Fair. The Entre Club, together with CIIE, links to the A-League, a network of colleges from Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. The A-League holds events such as IdeaThon and IoT Hackathon, and helps connect individuals from different backgrounds to come together and collaborate towards starting up.
All in all, IIMA is pushing the right levers to promote the entrepreneurial spirit. Its success ultimately depends on whether the attitude seeps into the students and how far they’re willing to go with the myriad of opportunities on offer.