If you thought that heavy workload and long study schedules are leaving students with very little time to explore life, think again!
India has seen a spurt in the number of young people treading the path less travelled and running successful companies, even before they are out of college. The number of start-ups that have been founded by students- many of them still in their teens and early twenties, bear testimony to the fact that if you have the passion and the tenacity to stick to your dreams, then age is no bar for success.
Consider this. 14- year old Sindhuja Rajaraman, a class IX student, is the CEO of an animation company called Seppan and the youngest CEO to be recognised by the National Association of Software and Service Companies. Fifteen- year old Farrhad Acidwalla is the Founder and CEO of web development and media company Rockstah Media. After becoming the world’s youngest certified professional web-developer at the age of 14, and today, aged 24, Suhas Gopinath is the Chairman and CEO of Globals, an IT consulting firm that has offices around the globe. While the young age of these achievers certainly adds to the ‘wow’ factor, these are not one off stories. India’s entrepreneurs are getting younger, savvier and more innovative it seems. Interestingly, a majority of student entrepreneurs are not from the urban elite but are first generation mavericks from conventional, middle-class families and that too from non-metropolitan cities.
The National Entrepreneurship Network, which is an initiative that aims to support young entrepreneurs across the country, works with over 540 institutes across India, offering guidance, support and resources for budding entrepreneurs within college campuses.
In the National Entrepreneurship Network’s First Dot Competition for student start-ups held earlier this year, 99 applications were received from 19 cities. Fifty-four of the 99 applicants came from non -metropolitan cities and only four of them had families that had an annual income of more than twenty- five lakhs.
The trend seen in recent years reveals that a large majority of student enterprises center on technology, IT services, mobile communication and e-commerce. The reason may not be hard to deduce. Since these sectors are skill based and require low capital investment, students are naturally attracted towards these sectors.
“Technology related entrepreneurship requires minimal investment. I started my business with only my laptop and a couple of orders for website development in my kitty. Today I make 35,000 per month, selling my services on freelance websites,” says Shyam .S, a first year engineering student.
“Manufacturing and other capital intensive sectors do require considerable amount of seed money, but there are institutions like NEN that support young entrepreneurs,” says Shailaja Reddy, a budding fashion designer who has set up her own block printing unit in the garage of her house.
Even fields like agriculture and clean energy are receiving a lot of interest from students, who are keen on doing something for the society.
“Although there is considerable interest in the student community towards entrepreneurship, we lack the kind of infrastructure and funding that the students in West enjoy,” says Smriti.S who has joined IIM after completing her engineering from IIT. “In campuses like IIT and IBS, we have the kind of eco-system where a large number of innovative ideas are generated. But only a handful of these ideas materialise and even fewer succeed in the long run. Once out of college, most students get lured by high pay packets and comfortable, no-risk jobs in big companies and these ideas are put on the back burner. Unless the government and the private sector step in with better policy push, incentives and financial support, we may continue to lose some of our most talented student entrepreneurs to the big multinational giants.”