Kolkata: Pathikrit Ghosh believes in doing his own thing. “I wanted to do something where I felt what I had learnt would be more relevant instead of sitting before a computer and typing codes,” says Ghosh, the lone first-year student at Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, or IIM-C, planning to take the start-up route.
And in these times of economic gloom, when even the best and brightest from India’s top business schools would prefer a steady job instead of starting a venture, Ghosh intends to set up a consultancy firm.
His own boss: Pathikrit Ghosh, a student at IIM-C, is building a database of potential clients—so far, he has a list of 14,000 enterprises. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
“I don’t think anyone from PGP-2 (the second year of the two-year postgraduate diploma programme in management) is seriously thinking of entrepreneurship as an option,” says Prafulla Agnihotri, placements chief at IIM-C.
This sentiment has not deterred Ghosh. While his classmates at IIM-C are sprucing up their CVs to ensure summer placements, he is working on updating his database of potential clients. “In about three months, I have built up a bank of 14,000 small and medium enterprises,” he says.
Ghosh quit a secure job as area sales manager at Indian Oil Corp. Ltd to join one of the country’s premier business schools to receive training to launch his own business, which he intends to call MyMa Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
After graduating in 2004 with electronics and instrumentation from University of Madras, Ghosh joined an instrumentation firm called Eurotherm DEL India Pvt. Ltd and later IndianOil, where he worked for three and a half years. It was during his stint with the state-owned oil marketer that he firmed up plans to launch his own company. The people he met during his stint with IndianOil form the nucleus of the database for his start-up.
“There are lots of businesses that want to grow but not everyone can afford an A.T. Kearney or a McKinsey,” says Ghosh, who aims to offer quality consultancy at affordable prices by keeping overheads low. MyMa will initially focus on sales, business development and human resources consultancy. The idea of starting a consultancy struck him after he joined IIM-C. “Six hundred of the smartest minds in India who are here (at IIM-C) have acted as the catalysts for MyMa.”
IIM-C has two entrepreneurial cells that encourage students to launch businesses. The institute organizes an annual contest that gives students a chance to sell business plans to venture capital funds.
Last year, four business plans submitted by IIM-C students received venture capital funding, according to Paul Savio, who is a first-year student and the external relations secretary at the institute.
“This year, too, we have got commitment from funds for two proposals, but both are from people outside the institute,” he says. The contest is not restricted to students from IIM-C. “But at least seven more (proposals) are being considered by various venture capital funds and quite a few of them are from IIM-C,” Savio adds.
Ghosh believes people shouldn’t look at entrepreneurship only when the chips are down. “Entrepreneurship requires a passion to say no to a job with a multi-crore package during good times and not just as an option when the offers are not that good.”
Agnihotri also says entrepreneurship shouldn’t be considered as an option merely because the economy is going through a bad patch and jobs on offer during the placement season may not carry the astronomical pay packets people have come to associate with IIMs. “Entrepreneurship can’t be a by default option. You have to really believe in it.”
According to Savio, IIM students aren’t averse to the idea of launching ventures, but most want to work for a few years before taking the plunge. “There are many among us who would eventually launch his or her own business, but initially at least they would want to work to get some exposure in the industry,” he says.
Students other than Ghosh might have been forced to think of their own ventures but for the fact that the entire batch will surely get placed despite the downturn, according to Savio. As many as 60 IIM-C students have secured good jobs even before completing their courses.
The ultimate high for Ghosh, besides the joy of being his own boss, is to come back to IIM-C to recruit. “I want to come here and hire for MyMa some day.”
Dos and don’ts
•Have confidence in your idea/product
• Make it a collaborative effort. Get as many people as possible
• Be passionate about the whole idea of becoming an entrepreneur, not just because it’s the fashionable thing to say or the flavour of the season
• Don’t lose hope or faith after running into initial hurdles
• Don’t do anything in a half-baked fashion. Have trial runs and dress rehearsals. Ensure everything is ready and running smoothly before going public
• Don’t be afraid of the unknown