IITB Central Library 2.0 Service

Startups jump to top of placements queue at IITs

Posted on: December 5, 2013

Source: Times of India
MUMBAI: Life can come full circle in just a year. Advitiya Sharma sat uncomfortably in his dark suit as he pitched himself to top companies at IIT-Bombay last year. This week, Sharma was back on campus, in informal tees—as befits an engineer-turned-entrepreneur—picking up students from the Class of 2014.

The co-founder of Housing.com, a campus-born company, seemed at home sharing space at the IITs with global tech biggies like Google and Oracle—them with their bulge-bracket salary offers and promises of overseas postings—on the opening day of campus placements. The house-hunting portal snared 45 IIT graduates during top slots at campuses in Delhi, Mumbai, Kharagpur and Guwahati.

The mating season spreads across five months at engineering colleges; they have traditionally been fertile ground for startups in search of fresh talent and energy. This year though, a new pecking order appears to have emerged. Several recently incubated ventures have jumped to the head of the queue and are powering the opening days of campus placement.

“Never have so many startups made it to the first few slots. Not only are they paying a lot more, they are also popular among students because they have interesting profiles,” said Avijit Chatterjee, placement head at IIT-Bombay. “A lot of them are students who have graduated from here and they know exactly what they are looking for.” Companies are paying northwards of Rs 12-18 lakh (gross), and many are offering stock options, said placement team member.

Apart from Housing, IIT-B has given pride of placement to online restaurant discovery guide Zomato, online retailers Flipkart and Myntra, job site Naukri and Gulf Talent (for a posting in Dubai), classifieds website Quickr, and multi-screen gaming platform Snapstick. In the coming days, cab companies Ola and Meru, algorithmic trading firm iRagecapital, flight ticket booking site ibibo and customised software developer Skiify Solutions are in line to come.

Over the past couple of years, with the success of tech-based startups like Flipkart, Inmobi and Snapdeal, there is a sea-change in the way students at the prestigious IITs are evaluating offers from this new universe of employers. While most startups said it’s still difficult for non-funded ventures to attract talent from the IITs, the dynamics change dramatically once they’ve got money in the machine.

Bhavish Agarwal, 27, co-founder & CEO of Ola and an IIT-Bombay alumnus, said his two-year-old company will hire as many as 20 IIT students this year compared to five in 2012. “We’ll be at IIT-Bombay on Thursday and look for students who are not necessarily the best academically but have the raw talent to take risks. Ola plans to offer an annual package of Rs 10-12 lakh this year. “The profiles we look for are not typically the ones a big consulting firm would pick,” he added.

Zomato hired students from IIT-Delhi and IIT-Bombay in the first two days of placement season this year at an annual remuneration of Rs 26 lakh. Founder & CEO Deepinder Goyal said his five-year-old venture went for pre-placement talks with students this year to understand what they were looking for while evaluating offers. “We had to give competitive salaries because by Days 5 and 6 the best talent is gone. That’s how campus hiring works,” he said. Zomato raised $37 million from Sequoia Capital and existing investor Infoedge valuing the Delhi-based startup at over $150 million (Rs 900 crore).

One of the older startups Snapdeal hired 40 students from across IITs last year and its co-founder Kunal Bahl, a Wharton grad, said the e-commerce firm is looking to pick another 50 students this year. “For us the fit with the cultural and business needs are more important than the number we hire. The idea is to keep building a pipeline of future leaders who will bring new thoughts and abilities,” Bhal said.

This year at IIT-Kanpur, 18-20 startups are slotted for Week 1 and another 14 for the following week. At IIT-Madras, four startups have been slotted for the first week, with salaries in the range of Rs 8-11 lakh. By the end of Day 3, Flipkart had hired eight students. “Companies have been slotted on the basis of their salary packages and job profiles,” said V Babu, advisor, training & placement at IIT-M. “It goes to show that these startups have graduated,” said a member of the placement team at IIT-Kharagpur, which has also been playing host to a bevy of startups.

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