Start-ups to attract top B-School talent this placement season

B-School students, no longer eyeing the stratospheric salaries, are taking the opportunity to sample the freedom and exposure of working in entrepreneurial and innovative companies. The pattern of summer placements indicates the new-found importance of start-ups. At IIM-C, ten students will intern at start-ups. At IIM-A, eight opted for small firms.

Similarly, IIM-K had 25 start-ups on campus picking up 23 interns. Sensing the mood, IIM-L, for the first time, introduced an ‘Entrepreneurship Day’ during the summer placement process, and had 40 students placed at 20 start-ups. VS Bhargav, who worked for big corporations before joining IIM-L, says: “If I get to head an entire function, why should I bother about the package?”

Start-ups typically pay interns about Rs 30,000 for six weeks, a far cry from investment banking highs. A variety of start-ups have moved in to fill in the slots emptied by regular recruiters, which include the likes of Inkfruit (a portal for T-shirt designs for custom-made products), (a Rs 30-crore online bus ticket travel agent), Rupeetalk (a personal finance services portal), Convonix (a search engine optimisation firm), (a microfinance firm) and (a social networking site for entrepreneurs).

From the entrepreneur’s viewpoint, it’s an unforeseen opportunity to access top-of-the-line talent in the country. Rupeetalk advises people on personal finance and sells financial products. The company received requests from 50 interns, and finally settled on three.

“It’s important for us to hire the right resources as the stakes are high for start-ups. With IIM graduates you know that things will not go wrong,” says Satkam Divya, one of the Rupeetalk’s founders. An IIM-L alumnus himself, he claims his team generates 2,000 leads a day for fixed deposits and insurance products despite the downturn. B-Schools and students are beginning to realise the attractions of start-ups—students get a lot more to do, and the chance to try out their own ideas. Bhargav, for instance, feels that in large corporations ideas have to be approved by the entire hierarchy, and even then can end up looking like something else.

Says Kashyap Dalal, CEO of Inkfruit and a BITS Pilani graduate: “People come here as they enjoy big responsibilities and some aspiring entrepreneurs want a feel of this.”

Also, it gives students a chance to be engaged in innovative businesses. Like at the year-old Inkfruit, the most popular designs and products are put up for sale after a voting process every week. Inkfruit is already selling 5,000 designs every month and has two students from IIM-L and IIM-C interning with it this summer. “We believe this is a very good opportunity for start-ups and smaller firms to compete with bigger corporates and MNCs as students look forward to varied roles and different career tracks,” an IIM-K placement committee member told ET .

That’s what makes Phanindra Sama, founder of RedBus, confident enough to visit IIMs for final placements in March.

“People are coming to us because we are good and we will take in anyone who is a culture fit for us,” he says. What’s adding to the enthusiasm of these small companies is the fact that the number of bigger firms and MNCs lining up to recruit this year will be less compared to earlier years. This will give start-ups a chance to take on board future managers.

(With inputs from Sreeradha D Basu in Kolkata & Kumar Anand in Ahmedabad)


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