An increasing number of B-school students are opting out of placements to set up their own ventures, and their institutes are trying to help them at it.
With an increasing number of students opting out of placements to start their own ventures, most premier management institutes in India are gearing up to introduce policies to facilitate entrepreneurship among students.
The idea is to encourage students to take up entrepreneurial ventures while simultaneously offering them a safety net in case the venture does not take off.
The Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) and Vinod Gupta School of Management (VGSOM), for instance, recently introduced an initiative -- the Deferred Placement Programme (DPP) -- to provide a safety net to students willing to take up the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Under this programme, students interested in starting entrepreneurial ventures will be allowed to push back their participation in campus placements for a maximum period of two years.
Also, the fact that students could opt for placements later is expected to be a deciding factor for many students in taking up entrepreneurial ventures.
The DPP at IIT-KGP has already found takers like Arpit Jain, Mayank Jain, Joy Deep Nath and Udit Sajjanhar. The four final-year students of computer science and engineering, have launched a Web 2.0 company called Intinno to provide a platform that promises to extend the classroom experience to the Internet.
The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), too has a similar policy in place to encourage entrepreneurship. A professor at IIM-A points out that "the number of students opting to launch their own business has doubled after the introduction of this policy".
At IIM-A this year, as many as 11 students have either opted out of placements, or rejected job offers to start their own enterprise. Two of these students rejected associate offers in excess of Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) from investment banks to start off their own venture.
At IIT-KGP and VGSOM, students willing to opt for the DPP will have to submit a letter of intent informing the authorities about the decision to opt out of the placement process.
The student will also have to submit an application to the training and placement section along with the proposed business plan.
Then, the sponsored research and industrial consultancy unit will conduct a feasibility study of the project and on the basis of its report, the training and placement section will register students under the programme.
The process will ensure that the students get proper guidance in terms of the viability of their projects before they take the plunge.
Likewise, XLRI-Jamshedpur has introduced a deferred placement policy this year, applicable to the 2008 batch of students and onwards.
Uday Damodaran, placements chairman of XLRI, notes: "From this year, we will allow students interested in starting entrepreneurial ventures to take the plunge and push back their participation in campus placements for a maximum period of two years. Our aim is to extend as much support as possible to students who wish to become entrepreneurs. A policy like this will provide students the emotional security needed while taking a risk during the initial years of a career."
XLRI Jamshedpur has also decided to support a group of six first-year students with Rs 300,000 for their entrepreneurial venture. These six have decided to start Parichay.co.in, a portal to link tribal artisans with the mainstream market and provide them a platform to reach out to connoisseurs of art across the world.
"As the six students put together the portal and decided on the revenue earning model, we at XLRI thought of supporting them with the initial funds required to put the project in place," reasoned Madhukar Shukla, faculty at XLRI.
Similarly, the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C) is in the process of putting together a policy to provide a safety net to students willing to become entrepreneurs, but at the same time, a reassurance that they can fall back on campus placements in case the venture does not take off.
This year, Ankur Gattani is the only student from the 2006-08 PGDM batch of IIM-C to have opted out of the final placements and start a blogging tool -- lifeinlines.com -- where people can post their write-ups and also keep in touch with others.
IMT Ghaziabad is looking at tying up with the National Entrepreneurship Network, to start an entrepreneurship cell on its campus. It is also in talks with venture capitalists to fund any entrepreneurial venture its students may come up with.
According to Nilanjan Chattopadhyay, placement chairperson, IMT Ghaziabad, "We are looking at various means of promoting entrepreneurship on our campus. We will also be coming up with a policy on the lines of IIMs where we could give a two-year placement holiday to students who plan to start on their own."
S P Jain Institute of Management and Research has reportedly brought in a policy where students opting out of the placement process to pursue entrepreneurial interests would have the opportunity to sit in the placement process for the next two years.
IIM-Indore, on its part, has given its students the option to sit for final placements the very next year, in case the entrepreneurial venture does not take off as expected.
The Indian School of Business, Hyderabad too is reportedly in talks with some companies to fund a scholarship programme for its students who opt out of placements to set up their own businesses.
The scholarship would take care of the financial needs of the students in the form of monthly stipends. The institute also plans to give these students a two-year placement holiday where they can opt to participate in placements after two years if their entrepreneurial venture fails to take off.