IITs and their legacy of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship 

Learn from these successful owners of businesses, who were students of the Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), as they impart their knowledge on how IITs helped
Innovation and IIT go hand in hand | (Pic: EdexLive)
Innovation and IIT go hand in hand | (Pic: EdexLive)

Learn from these owners of businesses, who were students of the Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), as they impart their knowledge on how IITs helped them build an outlook that would prepare them to take up innovative entrepreneurial endeavours and strive to make a change

A hub for budding entrepreneurs 
Sneha Biswas is the Founder and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Early Steps Academy, an online platform that teaches essential skills outside school and deals with subjects that include entrepreneurship, SpaceTech and beyond. She is also a student of IIT Kharagpur (KGP) and an MBA (Master in Business Administration) graduate from Harvard Business School. She shares, “One big thing that helped shape my entrepreneurial mindset was the company I found. Like-minded people who were equally ambitious and hardworking truly inspired me. The environment at an IIT fosters creativity and leadership and inspires students to take up bigger goals in life." 

Vikram Aditya, CEO and Co-Founder of DAOLens, which operates in a crypto setup as SAS (software as a service), is a Bachelor of Design graduate from IIT Guwahati. He says, “The benefit of being in an IIT is that you have more opportunities and this opportunity is more likely to catapult you to the first step of your career."

He also states, "If one is from any other university or college, it might not be so easy for them to get into global companies such as Goldman Sachs or Microsoft just after their graduation.” 

Ravi Kaushik, CEO & Founder of Airth, the world's first antimicrobial air purifier, developed at IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur, and an MTech in Environmental Engineering and Technology from IIT Bombay, says that the entrepreneurial environment of the IITs has changed a lot with changes in the policies. 

He adds that now entrepreneurship courses are taught along with academics by qualified individuals. Students can defer their placements by a year and after the completion of four years, can try various entrepreneurial activities. If they do not succeed, they can readily take up placements offered by the institution.

Aiming for the IITs 
"I personally do not think children need to prepare for IIT for many years. But yes, the journey is going to be difficult — the preparation especially. And it is totally worth it," says Vikram Aditya. 

Vikram Aditya says, “When you are preparing for IITs, remember what you are preparing for is to go to a place that will inspire you to do really big things in life. You might or might not end up being an engineer forever, but the learnings from this phase of life will be with you forever. They will be your fuel for life." 

He also states, “It is wise to see where one is headed to and where one sees themselves after the next five to six years.”

Ravi Kaushik suggests that students must aim for such institutions and opt for entrepreneurial ventures during their time there as it would give them the much-needed mindset, add a boost to their professional career, offer them a hands-on experience and most importantly, he asserts that students will learn the art of expressing themselves at an early stage of their venture.

The cog wheel of change
When we asked Sneha Biswas about how being an IITian brought in a change within her, she says, “My journey at IIT helped me in many ways. From opening doors for fantastic opportunities — internships and first jobs — to receiving mentoring from professors to most importantly, gaining access to a really smart bunch of people who have become my life-long friends, career advisors, guides and role models.”

Ravi Kaushik emphasises the importance of the availability of research opportunities. He says that the professors at IITs have become more aware of start-ups and also put in their ideas to help students. There are incubation centres which help with funding as well as mentorship opportunities which are offered by industry experts who have a hands-on experience of more than 15 years. 

Developing the zeal 
“When you are at a place like IIT, you realise that you are not the smartest one in the room and that's a very humbling feeling. That pushes you to work even harder — a skill for any entrepreneur. The experiences and exposure through my early life and later going to IIT led me to find a job in the world's largest oilfield services company in the world, enabling me to work across the USA, the UK, India and Africa. I then went to Harvard Business School where I started my education venture, Early Steps Academy.”

Sneha postulates that IIT led her to understand that one cannot give up after tasting success and of course, for her clearing IIT wasn’t enough. It only urged her to do more and take risks and that is exactly how she left her high-paying job in the US and started her own company.

Ravi Kaushik says that for entrepreneurship IIT Kanpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and IIT Madras are the best because they are already well-established in the field and have produced many success stories. Second-generation IITs like IIT Guwahati, IIT Gandhinagar and IIT Roorkee are following suit.

Even his company, Airth, was incubated at IIT Kanpur which provided him with the necessary mentorship and funding for his projects and this further fuelled his passion towards passion for doing something for the environment.  

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