Which IITs, IIMs have churned out most Indian unicorn founders?
India recently achieved the milestone of 100 unicorns. Interestingly, the country's start-up ecosystem is the third-largest in the world, just behind the United States and China. Unicorns are start-ups run by private players with a valuation of $1 billion or above. So, where do the majority of founders of these Indian unicorns come from and what are their educational qualifications? Read on for more.
According to a report by The Print, most founders of Indian unicorns are graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), while those from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) also aren't far behind. BigBasket, Flipkart, BYJU'S, Paytm, Ola, Oyo, Blinkit (formerly Grofers), MakeMyTrip, Nykaa, and others are part of the unicorn ecosystem, and interestingly most of the founders (read 85%) are engineering graduates.
The IIT Delhi alumni network's list mentions that a majority of these unicorn founders are IIT Delhi graduates, followed by IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, and IIT Madras. A former president of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association, Rohit Koshy, believes IIT-D's environment is conducive for the start-up ecosystem to thrive and gives students the advantage of being close to the civil service community.
Academically, too, IIT-D has a lot to offer to the students who want to venture into the start-up model such as its entrepreneurship program that lets students get familiar with the start-up culture, Koshy says. IIT-D alumni who made it big include Flipkart's Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal; Meesho's Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal; Zomato's Deepinder Goyal, Gaurav Gupta, and Pankaj Chaddah, among others.
Meanwhile, Ola Cabs founders Ankit Bhati and Bhavish Aggarwal and CitiusTech's Jagdish Moorjani and Rizwan Koita are IIT-B alumni. Glance's Naveen Tewari; ShareChat's Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Farid Ahsan; Urban Company's Abhiraj Singh Bhal and Varun Khaitan are from IIT Kanpur. Urban Company's co-founder Raghav Chandra is a University of California graduate. IIT Kanpur's Deepak Garg and IIT-D's Gazal Kalra founded Rivigo.
There are several IIM graduates who have founded well-known unicorns too. Nykaa founder Falguni Nayar and FirstCry's Supam Maheshwari are from IIM Ahmedabad. On the other hand, Paytm's founders—Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Akshay Khanna—are neither from any IIT nor IIM. Both are from Delhi College of Engineering (now known as Delhi Technological University). In fact, Maheshwari also has an engineering degree from the DCE.
India's 101st unicorn—edtech start-up PhysicsWallah (PW)—was founded by Alakh Pandey and Prateek Maheshwari in May 2020. While Pandey studied mechanical engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur, Prateek is an alumnus of IIT BHU, Varanasi. Notably, PW recently raised $100 million in Series A funding from WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures. Students can access PW content in the form of lectures, videos, and notes.