Which universities produce the most #startups in #India?

It is not uncommon to see most startups have founders from IIT and other top schools in India. I wanted to only take a look at the funded startups (Yes, that funding is not a guarantee of success is not lost on me). While Crunchbase only has about 103 startups from India in their database, most of them are not funded.

I expanded the list of early adopter VC’s in India to take a look at their portfolio list from their websites (yes I know that many dont list all their investments on their website, but we have to start somewhere). That produced a list of 219 companies in total.

Thomson Reuters gives us about 316 companies funded both by angel investors and VC’s since 2010 in technology. This is possibly the most comprehensive source of funded startups.

This produced a total of 478 founders and co-founders. Of those, 228, 47% came from the IIT’s and IIM. That’s a lot. Even for funded companies that is a lot.

I only took the top 9 colleges (since there were 3 colleges that all were #10). All this data is from Linkedin (where available). I also realize that most people do not put all their educational qualifications on Linkedin, so this data may be slightly off. I do know that 60% of the LinkedIn profiles associated with the founders were complete.

There were 11% of these (52) that had both an IIT degree and IIM degree. Here is a list of those colleges and the # of founders.

Tech founder universities in India
Which universities do tech founders graduate from

Keep in mind these are funded companies alone, not all companies. I was not surprised that IIM A and IIM C were near the bottom of the list, but what surprised me was that IIT Kanpur was lower than IIT Mumbai. Why? Most of the folks I know in the US (entrepreneurs and others) are from IIT K. The image has IIT Bangalore, which does not exist, and it should say IIM Bangalore.

This does raise a few questions that I would like your opinions on. Lets just dwell on one question first.

Why is it that nearly 50% of funded companies have founders from top colleges? Is it a selection bias – given that over 60% of investors (VC’s) are from IIT and IIM?

P.S. I know all the data heads and junkies want access to the “raw data”, but Thomson Reuters, which is a paid service, will not let us share this.

P.P.S If you compare this analysis to top universities in the US for funded startups, they make up a far less % of funded statups.

32 thoughts on “Which universities produce the most #startups in #India?”

  1. Mukund,

    It may be an idea to do a quick survey of Ange / Seed / VC investors to check this parameter for the companies they have invested in. One seed investor told me that they have a bias against IIM graduates and one incubator, in fact, said that top engineering and business colleges is a NO from his side. There may be reasons for this, but would be worth evaluating.
    For an entrepreneur, it may help to play on such empirical ‘biases’ and reduce the funding cycle time.

    1. Vishwas
      It also is a case of I say one thing and do another. I know most VC’s say they dont care about the educational qualification of entrepreneurs, but they end up selecting ones from the top institutions anyway.

  2. In some IIT’s, there is (or atleast was) a strong preference to pursue masters/phd in the US. There should be a higher number of US based startups from those IIT’s. That may also explain the lower number of Indian startups from IIT Chennai/IIT Kanpur.

  3. Mukund,
    One reason why these results might look a bit skewed is that you seem to only considered startups based in India – a lot of folks might have graduated from IIT or IIM and moved to other countries and raised funding locally to start companies there. Presumably, these startups wouldn’t have shown up in this analysis.

    1. Hello Sumanth,

      There is already a study on entrepreneurs in the US done by Monica Rogati- a Data Scientist at LinkedIn – the methodology used for this study was different (she didn’t care about whether the startups were VC backed or not) – this was for startups operating only in America.

      On page 10 you’ll find the list of common alma maters for American Entrepreneurs. Green = Undergrad unis, Blue = Business Schools, Orange = Tech schools. There are only 4 Indian schools on that list: All usual suspects- IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur and BITS.

      This also fits in well with Mukund Mohan’s observations about a high number of IIT K alumni in entrepreneurship in America. Your statement seems valid- at least for the tech schools- a very big chunk of their startups take birth in the states. There are no stats for IIMs though.

  4. Mukund, Is there a strong correlation between investors with IIT/IIM credentials and the companies that they have funded (having IIT/IIM founders). In other words – do investors with IIT/IIM credentials show a bias towards investing in companies with IIT/IIM credentials.

    It is a well known fact that the top universities have excellent alumni networks and their alumni also work for the betterment of their respective alma mater.

    IF there are 3 companies that start at the same time in the same space (say e commerce) – let us say, one of them is founded by IIT grads, and the other by IIM grads and the third by non IIT/IIM grads – then all things being equal (unique hits, conversions, early adoption etc), who stands to get funded. As an investor (who needs to rationalise his investment to LP’s/investment committee) will the academic backgrounds of the founders not be a strong differentiator ?(especially when there is a great degree of importance placed on team composition and ability to attract future talent).

    Assuming the investors are not IIT/IIM – will they still not pick the IIT/IIM founded teams as they get to rationalise their investment decision at some point in time.

    Despite the bias that could exist, “Is there is a 50% chance for a non IIT IIM graduate to get funded (which is good). Are the odds nearly the same for a non IIT IIM graduate to secure funding?

    1. Good points Ashok. I agree with everything you say except your last point about 50% chance if you are not from IIT /IIM. The # of colleges and universities that make up the remaining founders is over 100. So really your chances are a lot less if you are not from IIT / IIM.

  5. Do you think the data reflective of the traditional ‘strengths’ of the institutions mentioned in the list ? For instance, IIT Chennai is strongly associated with Chemistry sciences, and IIM Calcutta with Finance, which may be the reason why there are not many founders from these institutions ?

  6. If we analyze this in terms of students per student per batch,
    IIM A, 15/335 = 0.04477
    IIT K, 28/830 (UG only) = 0.03373
    IIT D, 43/850 (UG only) = 0.05059
    IIT KGP, 38/1370 (UG only) = 0.02773
    IIM(?) B, 29/380 = 0.0763 (?!)
    IIM C 19/462 = 0.0411
    I think its better to analyse this way because some kind of of normalization is required to compensate for the wildly different batch sizes. Also most companies (in IITs and BITS) are started by 3rd and 4th year students. I guess the case is different in IIMs. Looking at the case this way we can see that:
    -The stats shown in the graph above are misleading.
    -IIMs actually perform equal to or better than IITs
    -Things would get worse for IITs when you consider that postgrads also start companies.

    1. You are comparing on the basis of current batch size. and i m really surprised that there is no IT BHU and BITS Pilani and XLRI considering the age of all the institute.

      1. Agreed it would be better to sum the batch sizes for the past 5 or 6 years. But then it shouldnt change much. I find it surprising that there is no ISB or IIITH in the top ten.

  7. At a visit to IIM A 3 yrs ago, I heard the Asia head of Citi Bank say this : “IIM A is the toughest place to become an entrepreneur. The temptation of high salary and job security is too much to chuck and get your pants dirty in startup “.

  8. In my opinion, this number looks skewed because most of the start-ups in India currently are founded by IIMs/ IITs graduates to begin with, so it is but obvious that funded start-ups will have higher percentage of these companies. Though, I am not very surprised to see IITs ahead of IIMs because most of the VCs believe that engineers are much better for start-ups than MBAs. Finally, I believe the only person VCs prefer is serial entrepreneur. Rest of all depends on the idea of the person and how well he understand the intricacies of his own idea. In order to get any useful result from this analysis, we have to look the percentage of total start-ups founded by IITians and IIM graduate.

  9. Quite Obvious results IITD and Bits -Pilani are know for inculcating entrepreneurial skills

  10. This might hurt some of the sentiments out there but I will say it honestly. I believe Indians are not innovators as such and most of our start-ups are based on the ideas those are already prevalent in USA. To some extent it makes sense because they are tried and tested ideas and already successful in other countries. Now we have to look at the people who are mostly exposed to these ideas and they are the ones who are mostly working in MNCs e.g. IITIans . IIMites etc. and the other rich class. Now this second category of people are not exactly looking for funding as they already have resources. So finally it boils down to the fact that IITians are best suited to go for tech start-ups. Most of the times Indian start-ups depend on foreign funding and don’t think they have any particular preference for any particular universities. I have done my MBA from Queen’s University, Canada and almost nobody knew about Indian universities. I also interacted with people who were working in Mckinsey and PWC and they know nothing about IITs. Infact some of my classmates who have done Btech from local colleges(not even NITs) have got much better job than IITians in my class.

  11. On the question that is it a selection bias, I personally don’t feel so.

    I am an entrepreneur from BITS-Pilani and with experience now, I have the same selection bias while hiring employees due to the simple fact that the chances of getting a smart thinker, and a fast executor from a reputed college stands much higher than any other college. I don’t deny that other colleges do not have great guys, but it is just a matter of less trust and references.

    Same applies for VCs as well!

    1. That reaaly lks biasd bcoz..it dosnt means that a person nt frm an iit/nit…is a wise thinker.a startup involves logical thinking,cmn sense,a way with people.a person frm iit dsnt mean he will do amazing in startup a startup.narayen murthy is nt an iitian…satye nadwlla is neither.stp the bais nd lk at others also u might feel smthing different.

  12. Mukund,
    Is the bias justified?? Do the IIT/IIM founded startups do better than the others after funding – therefore justifying the bias?
    Do we have data on what happened to the funded startups? % startups who got 2nd round funding? Growth in the startup’s valuation? Number of people employed? % of multi-bagger exits for the VCs, and other criteria.

  13. mukund…i think it is more to do with alumni and the like minded environment that supports incubation of strong ideas and also support to their community. A stand alone entrepreneur is as much a success as a stand alone VC. Like people seeking investment, people making investments also need and will hunt in groups.

  14. The analysis may “appear” to be skewed, but in reality, the nos. could be even more tilted in favour of the institutes mentioned here. The very fact that the “the world of possibility” opens up for a lot of us only at the campus of these IITs and IIMs. For the first time, we hear successful entrepreneurs speak of their journeys to their respective and hallowed stands in the industry at present. Many of inspirational orators speak, who founded their companies when they had no clue, and their brilliant stories of hard work and beating the odds. The whole atmosphere is buzzing with the e word, e for electricity in this case. Everyday, you wake up to a new idea, with ample of guidance to validate it. At IIT Bombay, we have SINE, and the staff there is friendly and you can drop in any time to discuss your “plans” and “ideas” at any stage, and they encourage you to think wild.
    THAT versus, a usual household, where the usual conversation goes something like, “when is the next promotion” or “when are you getting married” and god forbid, if you say you are starting up your own business, then you hear, “why do you even want to leave this great job at XYZ company!” The world is different, inside and outside of these campuses. And isn’t it so much the eco-system, as much the individual, which will eventually decide the fate.
    And yes, everything else others have mentioned, the network, the funding, the pre-proven credentials, by the virtue of having cracked JEE & CAT! Well, …

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