IIT Guwahati Alumni: Where are you! – Part 1
[Warning Disclaimer] : The title is misleading as I couldn’t think of any other title for this post. Continue at your own risk!
IIT Guwahati, will complete 20 years of establishment in 2014. 20 years for a university is still considered young (we always boast about being young and being beautiful, “the most beautiful campus”! ). It feels proud to see that IITG was ranked among the Top 100 young universities across the globe, and was the only institute from India in the list.
15 Convocations have been held till now and we have IITGians trying to make mark in almost every corner of the world, in every popular company and in every popular university doing all kind of jobs you would expect an
engineer(IITian!) to do. Don’t believe? Here are some statistics. A snapshot from the link where you can set the graduation year and dig some insights.
But when it comes to pointing out few notable alumni from IIT Guwahati whom the world recognizes we don’t have anyone like Vinod Khosla, Rajat Gupta or Raghuram Rajan. I was faced with this question in 2012 while attending the regional finals of CIMA Global Business Challenge 2012 in New Delhi. The presenter was introducing every IIT with a popular alumnus name and I was wondering who would be there for IITG. Suddenly the name comes up Prabhat Gupta, founder of TravelTriangle ( BIG RELIEF! We too have one, though I didn’t know anything about him!)
So here starts my first blog post about few of our entrepreneurial alumni and their startups.
What happens when 3 IITian from 3 diff IITs come together to plan your trip. Prabhat Gupta(IIT Guwahati), Sankalp Agarwal (IIT Kharagpur ) and Sanchit Garg(IIT Bombay) co-founded this fast growing startup in the travel domain which was clocking revenues of Rs 1.2 crore in just 7 months. The startup has won many awards since its inception like “NASSCOM top 50 emerging companies of India” and has been featured among 10 Successful startups by IIT IIM BITS by ET. The startup also raised $200k in funding from Akshay Saxena. Being in the travel domain where every day startups come up and vanish, Travel Triangle has been competing quite well since 2011.
Prabhat Gupta who works as CTO at TravelTriangle, graduated with B.Tech,Computer Science and Engineering in 2008 and worked at Oracle for 2 years before taking the plunge.
You might also like to follow their Facebook Page to see trips they have on offer for you.
Read the various press releases to follow their development story.
Featured Story about Travel Triangle from 2011 on YourStory.
We all are bombarded with Ads while surfing online and its annoying most of the times. But the feeling when you see ads from a startup from your alma matter is amazing. Undoubtedly the most successful startup from IIT Guwahati. Druva Inc provides integrated data protection and governance solutions for enterprise laptops, PCs, smartphones and tablets. Druva has US Army, NASA, Nikon and universities such as Stanford and Berkeley as clients. Druva recently raised a funding of $25 Million (125 Crores) from Tenaya Capital, Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture. Behind all this success was none other than our alumnus Jaspreet Singh who graduated with B.Tech in CSE, Class of 2004) and worked for around 3 years before founding the company in 2008. One of the very few product companies India has every produced despite being the leader in IT and ITes space. (Try naming some product companies which produce hardware or software(product) of their own..? )
My entrepreneur journey started in college. During my fourth year I did an internship at a research lab for a private company. I did my internship in Germany, and while I was there my roommate was Dutch. He and a few of the others who were there really had a taste for Indian food. They offered to buy a regular supply of groceries, and my friends and I started to make some money by cooking various types of food. The group of us from India ran this as a small operation and even had a balance sheet. It was fun until the racket was busted and we got thrown out of the hotel. Fortunately, I had an apartment. That is when the entrepreneurship bug bit me. At that time I was planning on joining Infosys and eventually going on to get my MBA. When I was telling my friend about my plans, he told me that he was going to do a startup. When I got back to India, the startup idea was still in the back of my mind during my fourth year of school. When I graduated I joined a startup, Ensim.
Jaspreet was recently invited as a speaker to TechCrunch Bangalore Event.
Watch these series of videos of Jaspreet Singh :
What happens you have 3 IITGians from the same Class of 2001( B.Tech CSE), working to find a way out of their job life and make an impact. Meet Bishal Lachhiramka, Nayan Jain and Sachin Bhatia who were among the early entrepreneurs from IIT Guwahati and founded Drishti Soft Solutions. Drishti is a leading provider of communications solutions that empower enterprises and contact centers (IP Telephony, Unified Messaging, Conferencing, Presence Management, Application Collaboration and Software as a Service-SaaS).
Sachin is among the popular entrepreneurs from IIT Guwahati probably because he turned himself to Sales and Business Development despite having a love for programming. He is treated as a new Markets specialist and has travelled to over 40 countries for Drishti. Here’s an excerpt from 2010 interview of Birshal on YourStory.
According to Bishal, in the field of technology, India is yet to be a known source for innovation and quality deliveries. “The key pain points any entrepreneur experiences are procuring the required investment, right human resources, partners and value-add customers. Acceptance of Indian products would come with delivery of quality innovations which we are very much capable of developing. Also a major point we usually omit is – getting the right guidance.” says Bishal. He wants to share his words of advice and says “Create a team first then opportunity. Identify the areas where you can deliver differentiators and then give it your best. Don’t compromise on hard work, smart work is a myth.”
The kids of the 90s must have read articles stating how an IIT or IIM grad is not joining a corporate job and following his/her passion to start something new. Though we now know that many people also start because they don’t get jobs !. Anyway we are talking about those who have the entrepreneurial keeda. Here’s the story of Nimesh Bhandari which some of us might have read back then.
Nimesh was inspired from a talk by Sanjay Bhargava, the cofounder of Paypal, which was held at IIM-A in 2005. Sanjay Bhargava insisted students to come out of the cosy walls of corporate rooms to take challenging roles in the start-ups. Subsequent to the inspirational talk by Sanjay Bhargava, Nimesh started the “Startup Day” at IIMA as a part of placement process in 2006. Interestingly Drishti Soft was one of the 3 companies invited for placements. An IIT Guwahati alumni startup going for placements at IIMA in those days! That’s something very big. Imagine Sachin Bhatia answering to a query from prospective candidate : “Guwahati mein bhi IIT hai kya (Is there an IIT in Guwahati “! ).
IIM Ahmedabad is well known for its entrepreneurial alumni and probably Nimesh had a role to play in starting that culture.
Nimesh’s dream is to make IIM Ahmedabad as Wharton where students are known to ‘make’ jobs as opposed to ‘take’ jobs. It is to realize this dream the initiative of calling startups for the placements was started in 2006. This makes IIM Ahmedabad as the only B-school to take this special initiative of calling the young companies for the placements.
I wish we have someone who takes a similar vision forward for IIT Guwahati.
Nimesh worked closely with ValueFirst since his student days at IIMA and later as Vice President led many new intiatives. Some of them like “SMS to ask for help for women” and “Glocal messaging to empower farmers traders” were probably the pioneering solutions in their space.
Nimesh has worked at top level positions heading business development at companies (which probably where startups in those times!) like Paytm, Goibibo, Reliance Big , TomTom. (Remember I said IITGians in every popular company of the world!) More details available at his LinkedIn profile . Also you should definitely take a look at Nimesh’s resume at IITG Alumni website which has some more details showing the caliber Nimesh had and his achievements.
This is just the prologue to the story about his startup BlitzKreig Technologies which owns RealtyCompass. RealtyCompass brands itself as the first ever property search engine of India and plans to list each and every project going in a city. Launched in 2013, the startup was clocking revenues of 20 lakh per month when it had 3,500 listed projects in Bangalore and Chennai markets after successful angel funding.
Again a competitive market which has huge potential and we wish RealtyCompass takes the lead under CEO Nimesh Bhandari.
Featured Story on YourStory.
A blog about entrepreneurship and IIT Guwahati cannot be complete without mention of Raghu Khanna, Founder and CEO of Cashurdrive.
Does the name sound familiar. . ? You might have read about Raghu in the bestseller book Connect the Dots by Rashmi Bansal where he is featured among 20 entrepreneurs who never went to a B-School and dared to make their own path. He is also a popular entrepreneur known in campus and his story probably has driven recent IITG grads to take up entrepreneurship seriously. At times I have also heard people saying that they came to know about IIT Guwahati (Guwahati mein bhi IIT hai! ) by reading his story in the book. For those who haven’t read about Raghu’s interesting journey, you should either buy the book or read from the preview on Google books.
He had a job offer from Samsung and MS offer from Georgia Tech but suddenly some events made him an entrepreneur. I would recommend everyone to read his full story from the book and hence not reveal much here 🙂
Cashurdrive is the pioneer in outdoor advertising on vehicles. Cashurdrive has worked with top brands from Google to Visa , Flipkart to Levi’s and there is a very high probability that we would have come across an advertisment which was delivered via Cashurdrive. From a simple idea Cashurdrive has grown to dive into multiple advertising options and have 20,000+ Airport cabs for advertising. They were the media partners of IPL7 Team Kings XI Punjab and helped Dabur Pudin Hara brand 14,500 Autos across India.
Raghu Khanna graduated from IIT Guwahati with B.Tech,Electronics and Communication Engineering in 2008 and is probably one of IITG’s youngest entrepreneur who tasted success. He won many awards like Top 30 Young Entrepreneur in India by BusinessWorld 2010, Paragon 100 – Asia’s 100 Emerging Young Entrepreneurs by Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship 2010 etc.
What does a techie have to do with the tax filing process? Automate it and make it fast,hassle free ! That’s what the startup ClearTax by Archit Gupta and Anupam Mediratta does. Anupam and Archit who graduated with B.Tech CSE in 2004 and 2006 respectively met again in Silicon Valley and decided to tap into the online tax filing domain. Anupam says experts in this field always had a blind side towards their shortcomings, which someone from a complementary branch could fill-up. ClearTax was founded in 2011 by Anupam , Archit and Archit’s father RR Gupta who is a CA professional and decades of experience as tax expert. Recently YCombinator backed ClearTax and it probably is the first IITG Alumni startup to be backed by YC .  300,000 people filed taxes online through their website in 2013 and they expect to grow rapidly as more and more people start paying taxes online. The subsidy that government pays for an IITian could be justified if ClearTax could encourage people to pay taxes !
Anupam and Archit both went for MS and took up corporate jobs before diving into entrepreneurship. Anupam was also awarded the Unbox fellowship in 2013.
Connect with them Anupam Archit
Featured Stories from NextBigWhat: What is takes to build an online Tax filing website and YourStory : File your taxes online
IIT Guwahati is still very young to have lots of stories about successful serial entrepreneurs. But the c0-founders of Vivu and Baarzo, Siva Yellamraju and Sarath Ciddu are among the very few successful serial entrepreneurs. Siva graduated from IIT Guwahati in 2006 (B.Tech CSE) and co-founded Vivu Inc and was joined by Sarath and Sundeep Katasani(B.Tech CSE, 2005) in mid-2008. Later Kartheek Dommaraju (B.Tech ECE,Class of 2008) joined them in Dec 2009.
Vivu Inc was a privately held video collaboration company which got acquired by Polycom in 2011. Polycom is the global leader in standards-based unified communications (UC) for telepresence, video, and voice which are powered by the Polycom RealPresence platform to which Vivu was integrated.
After the team got acquired they worked for a couple of years with Polycom and later started Baarzo. Baarzo is building a search engine for video and enables users to search specific moments in a video. Baarzo has the same founding team except Sundeep and has been joined by two more IITGians, Pritish Jetley (B.Tech CSE, 2006) and Arun Reddy( B.Tech ,ECE 2006). Baarzo has been acquired by Google and it is reported that Eric Schimdt was impressed by the demo of the product when Siva met him during his convocation at Stanford Global School of Business. and if Baarzo delivers on its promises,which we all believe they would, could be a huge success. Having so many alumni in a team which is acquired by giants like Google even before releasing the product publicly definitely shows signs of something huge.
Featured Story: Why Polycom acquired Vivu
In an era when we are seeing the boom of e-commerce how can there be no successful e-commerce startup from IIT Guwahati. Many of you might have purchased something from FabFurnish.com which is largest company is online home furnishing space.FabFurnish was founded by Vaibhav Aggarwal (B.Tech CSE, Class of 2006!) along with Vikram Chopra(IIT Bombay) and Mehul Agrawal(IIM Calcutta) in March 2012.
Backed by the world’s largest incubator Rocket Internet, FabFurnish offers products in various categories such as home furnishings, furniture & fittings, home décor items, lighting, kitchenwareand more. E-Commerce for furniture is a rapidly growing market with tough competitions from the likes of Pepperfry, Urban Ladder and Zansar. By end of 2014 FabFurnish is targeting a revenue of Rs. 200 Crores in a market which is expected to grow to $20 billion in 2015.
After graduating from IITG,Vaibhav Aggarwal worked at DE Shaw and later went for MS at University of Michigan. Vaibhav worked as a vice president at Groupon India, and as a consultant at Bain & Company, he also holds a MBA degree from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. According to latest report, Vaibhav has quit Fabfurnish (also confirmed by another alumnus)
Connect with Vaibhav : LinkedIn Facebook Blog
That’s it for the first part of this series. It’s been a long post on the short journey of IIT Guwahati Entrepreneurs so far! I can’t answer why we have only these 8 companies featured in the order. But another post will be up soon featuring some more emerging startups from IITG Alumni.
8Stories, 9 Startups and 15 Alumni working in such diverse areas(data security,travel,video search, property search,e-commerce etc.) is a “proof” that IITGians are carving their own way and and soon we too might have entrepreneurship schools named after some famous alumnus or an alumni angel fund to help the students drive their ideas!
Key Takeaways: ???
- Lot can happen in collaboration with your batchmates (Drishti, Vivu,Baarzo)
- MS/MBA degree helps?
- What’s so special about 2006 Batch especially CSE, was it recession that led to entrepreneurship?
- It takes time to realize the miseries of a 9-5 job and then one feels they should startup!
- CS@IITG is a different league or it’s easy to start if you are from CS.
Bonus for scrolling till this point !
Anyone interested in following entrepreneurship related updates on Facebook,here’s a curated list you might find interesting 🙂