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At least one founder from IIT is involved in 73 of India's 100 unicorns: Reports

by Shailee Mishra

Date & Time: May 14, 2022 8:00 AM

Read Time: 2 minute


• The founders of the majority of India's 100 unicorns have an IIT background
• IITs investing in entrepreneurs

Serial entrepreneur Kashyap Deorah described how Lee Fixel, a former partner at Tiger Global, used to screen potential startups based on the founders' caste and JEE (advanced) ranks in his book The Golden Tap.

Only candidates with high JEE (joint entrance examination) scores are accepted into India's premier technical institutes, the centrally funded Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Fixel preferred young, first-time entrepreneurs who were North Indian Marwari banias with single or double-digit JEE ranks.

According to Deorah, "an analysis had probably revealed that such entrepreneurs were the best performers in the companies Tiger liked funding."

Fixel was in charge of Tiger Global's funding rounds in unicorns like Flipkart and Ola, which were among the hedge fund's biggest bets in India.

Both companies best fit Deorah's description, as Flipkart's founders, Sachin and Binny Bansal, and Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal, both graduated from IIT Delhi

IITs are increasingly investing in entrepreneurs

Even today (roughly seven years after Deorah's book was first published), Fixel's strategy of investing in entrepreneurs from IITs appears to be a common trend. In fact, founders with an IIT background make up the majority of India's 100 unicorns, the majority of which were only named unicorns in the last two years.

According to a data by analytics firm Tracxn Technologies, 73 of India's 100 unicorns have at least one graduate from one of the country's 23 IITs.

According to the data, the 73 unicorns have founders from seven of the 23 IITs, with IIT Delhi leading the pack.

IIT Delhi has about 21 unicorns with at least one founder, followed by IIT Bombay with 16, and IIT Kanpur with 12. The IITs behind the remaining 24 unicorns are IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IIT Roorkee, and IIT Guwahati.

"I won't say this (an entrepreneur from an IIT) is a parameter or the only parameter we look at," said a venture capitalist who requested anonymity after investing in a unicorn founded by an IIT alumnus.

"However, it (an entrepreneur with an IIT) definitely adds credibility to the candidate's pitch." "It's not just about IITs," the investor continued, "but also about some other top colleges like BITS."

Also Read: JEE Advanced 2022: Expert advice on how to ace the exam, here's everything you need to know

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