Nishant Saxena, who passed out of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, in 2000, is quitting a high profile job in one of India's leading companies to start his own venture called Elements Akademia -- a chain of vocational schools which has been conceptualised, funded and run by a group of IIM-Lucknow alumni.
Though this entrepreneurial trend has caught on well with Indian management students working abroad, the case of IIM-Lucknow alumni is a little different. These alumni -- who have now become entrepreneurs -- are coming back to their alma mater to recruit their juniors as partners for their overseas ventures.
The alumni give projects to the students at IIM-Lucknow through their international start-ups, in places like Zurich, Singapore and New York. If the performance is found satisfactory, they offer the students a chance of becoming a partner in their business.
The alumnus-turned-entrepreneur gives a brief of the project which includes a note on the start-up, brief on the research to be done, key deliverables, duration of the project and methodology to be used to the students.
"This programme aims to boost the entrepreneurial spirit of IIM-Lucknow students. It is the first of its kind initiative across all IIMs. The programme helps students learn about the difficulties faced by a new international venture, and is a big value-addition to the budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow," said Ankit Agarwal, a student and coordinator of the Industry Interaction Cell (IIC), IIM-Lucknow.
The students engaged in these projects also get a stipend in the range of Rs 5,000-10,000, based on the nature of the project. So far, the institute has completed four projects and the fifth one is in progress.
"We are constantly trying to reach out to more alumni and as and when we get more projects, we will take them up and release them to students. We intend to continue this exercise for the entire academic year," Ankit added.
"As students, we craved for real life projects. I wrote to the alumni network and the current batch through the IIC of IIM-Lucknow to see if there were more takers for the idea. And very soon we had a critical mass," said Nishant, coordinator, IIM-Lucknow, ASEAN Alumni Association.
According to Nishant, B-schools in India are significantly behind the best B-schools abroad in terms of the level of industry exposure, and IIMs in smaller cities face an even bigger challenge.