Entrepreneurship and Education: Lessons from the Journey of IIT & NID Alumni

Entrepreneurship and Education: Lessons from the Journey of IIT & NID Alumni

By: Shailesh Prithani, CEO & Founder of Jumbaya

Over the last few years, India’s entrepreneurial landscape has witnessed an electrifying transformation, as a new wave of innovation propels startups into prominence.

India’s ascent in the world of startups is nothing short of remarkable. In 2022, the nation achieved a momentous milestone by surpassing the coveted 100-unicorn mark, solidifying its position as one of the world’s leading startup hubs. With a cumulative valuation of approximately $350 billion, India now stands in the prestigious company of the US and China in terms of startup activity. Remarkably, it outpaced the UK by adding 33 unicorns in a single year, bringing the total count to 108.

India’s prowess extends beyond sheer quantity; it also holds the second position globally in innovation quality among middle-income economies. This is reflected in its top rankings for the quality of scientific publications and the excellence of its universities.

The Impact of IIT and NID Alumni on India’s Startup Landscape

Remarkably, graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institute of Design (NID) have significantly contributed to shaping India’s flourishing entrepreneurial landscape. As of October 2022, there are 5,489 startups founded by IIT alums, highlighting their substantial influence on the startup ecosystem. Among India’s 108 unicorns, 68 have at least one IIT graduate among their founders.

Meanwhile, NID’s incubation cell has contributed to this growth by nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship in the creative minds of young designers so that their ideas metamorphose into newer and niftier designs.

The Role of IITs and NID in Cultivating Innovative Thinkers of Today

“In the world of startups, ‘overnight success’ usually takes about ten years.” – Jeff Bezos.

To comprehend the reasons behind this impact, we must explore how the education and experiences at IITs and NID catalyse entrepreneurial excellence.

Fostering Innovative and Critical Thinking

At the core of the IIT and NID experience lies a commitment to fostering innovative and critical thinking. The holistic approach of these institutions goes beyond classroom learning. These institutions are hothouses for creativity and imagination, where students are encouraged to push the boundaries of what’s possible. The rigorous curricula, hands-on projects, and a culture of experimentation mould students into visionaries capable of envisioning a better future. 

Encouraging a Solution Mindset

IITs and NIDs are known for instilling a solution-oriented mindset in their students. They encourage curiosity, experimentation, and forward-thinking. Beyond problem identification, these institutions teach students to be relentless problem solvers; whether engineering groundbreaking technologies or designing innovative products, students are trained to see obstacles as stepping stones to innovative solutions. Many alums credit their alma maters for shaping their entrepreneurial spirit. 

Multi-Disciplinary Learning

One of the defining features of education at IITs and NID is the emphasis on a multi-disciplinary approach. Students from various academic backgrounds converge in these institutions’ vibrant classrooms and creative spaces. Here, a product designer student can attend courses that may not be a part of their curriculum. This blend of diverse perspectives fosters an environment where innovative solutions flourish. It echoes the wisdom of the renowned American industrial designer Charles Eames, who famously stated, “Eventually Everything Connects.”

Exposure to High Standards

IITs and NIDs maintain an unwavering commitment to excellence by exposing students to the best faculty and setting exceptionally high standards. There’s a ‘no compromise’ attitude regarding the quality of education imparted and the results expected. This exposure to top-tier instructors and relentless pursuit of excellence further sharpens the students’ skills and instil a sense of dedication that transcends mediocrity.

Mentorship and Guidance

Behind every successful entrepreneur, a mentor or guide often plays a pivotal role in their journey. IIT and NID communities understand the importance of mentorship, and many successful alums actively contribute to nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. These mentorship relationships are built on trust and shared experiences, providing invaluable insights and support to emerging startups. 


While it’s undeniable that students admitted to these institutions are inherently talented, the IIT and NID systems deserve due credit for nurturing these talents and providing an ecosystem that catalyses the transition from learners to innovative thinkers. It’s not just about the knowledge gained; it’s about the mindset cultivated—a mindset that embraces challenges as opportunities and turns problems into solutions.

As India continues its ascent as a global startup powerhouse, the nation can take pride in knowing that these institutions, with their focus on innovative thinking, solution-oriented mindset, and problem-solving acumen, play a pivotal role in shaping the entrepreneurial landscape. 

The future belongs to those who can envision, innovate, and create, and the IIT and NID alums exemplify this spirit. They are living proof that with the right education and mindset, success is not an overnight affair but a journey worth every step.