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Mind your own business
Super success: Bill Gates is a spectacular example of someone who made it big as an entrepreneur

Moumita Paul dreamt of it when she was in Class VIII. Today, this third-year student of a private engineering college in the city is busy realising her dream of setting up her own business, with a little help from IIT-Kharagpur. Her project deals with an online financial transaction system. Paul is determined to steer clear of any conventional tech job. 'I am not even going to attend campus recruitment,' she asserts firmly.

Even a few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine students preferring entrepreneurial ventures to cushy jobs. But clearly, times are a' changing. With more and more youngsters opting to set up their own businesses, every B-school worth its name is offering courses in entrepreneurship, as electives or otherwise.

For instance, IIM-Ahmedabad has a Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship and IIM-Calcutta has a Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. There is a Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Park at IIT-Kharagpur and Jadavpur University too will soon be launching an entrepreneurial development programme.

Why is entrepreneurship gaining so much importance these days' It is primarily because, industry experts say, there is now a growing awareness of the fact that job-givers, and not job-seekers, are the key to economic progress. 'The basic concept of the knowledge or entrepreneurial economy, is that it doesn't matter how big you are, but how smart you are. Future employment will come from new ventures. In India, small-scale and medium enterprises are the second biggest employers. And innovation is increasingly becoming the forte of small firms,' says Anjan Ray Chaudhuri, MD, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, IIM-C, adding that according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, India has the highest point for entrepreneurial orientation.

The centre, primarily catering to in-house students, focuses on research, teaching and training, venture support and community outreach programmes. Various short-term entrepreneurship courses are offered to postgraduate students, managers, entrepreneurs and policy makers. The topics covered include 'managing new ventures' and 'corporate entrepreneurship'. The research facility deals with developing business case studies. The centre provides consulting services to would-be entrepreneurs and helps them create new ventures.

'Today, entrepreneurship is generating a lot of interest among students. Many of them have fresh ideas, but no money or infrastructure to translate their ideas into reality. The idea is to incubate such fresh talents,' says Prof. Nishith Ranjan Mandal, managing director, Science and Technology Park (STEP), IIT-Kharagpur.

STEP helps IITians and students from other institutes as well. The selection is through an informal evaluation. If an idea is approved, STEP provides the candidates with seed money, office space and technical support, helps them develop a business plan and identify prospective customers.

So what are the qualities needed to be a successful entrepreneur' 'You have to think big,' says Mandal. 'You have to take failures in your stride and you have to have a risk-taking mentality,' he adds.

But can entrepreneurship be taught' Look at Bill Gates. He was a college dropout, never learnt how to be an entrepreneur in theory and yet achieved staggering success as the creator of Microsoft. 'You have to have a natural inclination,' admits Ray Chaudhuri. 'But courses do help to get a wider perspective. You need knowhow and 'knowwho', meaning, knowing who to get resources from.' The faster you learn the mantra, the sooner will you succeed on your own.

Where to study'

• The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at IIM-A.
• The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at IIM-C.
• K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research has a Centre of Excellence in Entrepreneurship in collaboration with Strathclyde University’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship.
• Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (Mica) has an entrepreneurship development centre (EDC).
• ISB Hyderabad’s Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurial Development.

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