Entrepreneurs take a break from work, go back to B-schools to equip themselves with business skills

August 5, 2017

Before joining this year’s batch at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Shubhanshuk Sarkar was the founder of Blupot Games, a mobile game development startup that released its first offering last August. “My venture taught me a great deal about taking a product from prototype to marketable stage. But I also understood that I need a better idea of how to run a company, and that’s why I joined IIMB,” he said.

Apurva Gajwani, co-founder of farmtech startup GrowSmart, realised he lacked certain business management skills when he and his cofounders were pitching the idea to venture capitalists for funding. He’s joined the Mumbai-based SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) as a postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) student this year to pick up the skills he felt a full-fledged management programme would equip him with.

Sarkar and Gajwani belong to the fast-growing ranks of entrepreneurs/startup founders in the current batch at top B-schools across India. At IIM Bangalore this year, nearly 35 students in the current batch are entrepreneurs; IIM Lucknow has 14 in its xxx (IPMX) programme. IIM Shillong has seen startup founder numbers double since 2016, as they have at SPJIMR in the last two years. While this trend has long prevailed at global B-schools such as Harvard, Wharton and Stanford, it’s fast gaining ground in India as well, according to the institutes.

Most of these startup founders helmed small ventures and started off right after college with little or no experience. Some ventures have closed, while others are still running. But what they have all realised is this: the merits of an MBA in equipping them with the proper knowledge and business skills as well as the network these top B-schools give them access to.

“As founders graduate from building the product to managing the business, people and growth, a formal education in these skills can be exceptionally helpful,” said Karan Girotra, professor at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University. “Not only do they encourage others to take the same road, but the classroom can be an excellent place for the founder to make new partnerships, find cofounders, and others with skillsets they might lack.” There has definitely been a sharp increase in such students, said B-schools, many of which have just started tracking this data as the numbers were too small earlier.

IIM Shillong’s 2017-19 batch for instance has six entrepreneurs compared with last year’s three. They includes Yammanuru Dharma Teja Reddy, who runs an educational consultancy called ED Guide; Jasmeet Singh who had an online platform for on-demand laundry called Dapper; and Rishabh Jain, who ran an online fashion jewellery venture. SPJIMR has four-five such students including Saurabh Gandhi, who cofounded a startup called KrishX in the farmer supplies space, and Kartik Kukreja, founder of Rred Makeup Studio and Academy.

At IIM Bangalore, entrepreneurs in the current batch include Amit Lanjewar of OMG Trip and Amir Kumar Singh, co-owner of The Litti Treat. Business schools are gaining as well. Institutes say that these entrepreneurs bring tremendous value to the classroom. Besides, their experience tends to give them an edge in admission.
“When it comes to the personal interview, entrepreneurs tend to perform better because they have been in the trenches. They have seen the ups and the downs and they have a more nuanced understanding of business,” said Rajendra K Bandi, chairperson, admissions, IIMB.

“They have a greater risk-taking ability and bring in different experiences to the classroom, thus enhancing class discussions and leading to higher learning.”

Bindu Kulkarni, head of admissions (PGDM) at SPJIMR, agreed. “They have a greater risktaking ability and bring in different experiences to the classroom, thus enhancing class discussions and leading to higher learning,” she said. The students also make the most of on-campus entrepreneurship cells as the B-schools on their part step up the focus on grooming job creators as well as managers. Gajwani has been learning about pitching ideas, adding value and market research at the Institute’s incubation centre. “These are the skills I will need to scale up my venture in the future,” he said.

Originally published at: http://bit.ly/2wm2VbU

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