Young B-School graduates give up dream jobs, choose 'entrepreneurship' over crore-plus salaries

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Reema Mukherjee of the class of 2012 at IIM Bangalore and Angana Jacob (IIM Ahmedabad, 2008) opted to strike out on their own during economic downturns.

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Young B-School graduates give up dream jobs, choose 'entrepreneurship' over crore-plus salaries

  1. 1. Young B-School graduates give up dream jobs, choose 'entrepreneurship' over crore-plus salaries Reema Mukherjee of the class of 2012 at IIM Bangalore and Angana Jacob (IIM Ahmedabad, 2008) opted to strike out on their own during economic downturns. Jacob quit her job as VP, index strategy at Deutsche Bank last year to launch a social gaming website, Couch Gaming. Mukherjee, on the other hand, quit Barclays, Hong Kong two months ago to further her batchmate's idea, SMERGERS, an SME-focused mergers and acquisitions consultancy firm. Vineeta Singh and her batchmate Devashish Chakravarty from IIM Ahmedabad, too gave up offers from Deutsche Bank London and New York respectively, to start India's first high-end lingerie retail chain in 2007 with two other batchmates. The entrepreneurs - mostly in their late 20s and early 30s - had what most business school students can only dream of: a degree from the premier Indian Institutes of Management, a plum investment banking job and a salary of Rs 1-crore plus. But they chose to take the path less travelled, and their fighting spirit has kept them going, irrespective of failures. "Despite my work being challenging, I realised that sitting in front of six computer monitors for 14 to 16 hours a day did not define me as a person. I knew I had to move on for personal fulfillment,"says Mukherjee. 'Kings' of their Domain For most of these youngsters, it's a journey of constant risk-taking. When Singh and Chakravarty found it hard to raise money for the venture, they launched a test preparation company and HR outsourcing firm, Quetzal Verify. With Chakravarty at the helm, Singh moved on to pursue another dream Velvette.com, a beauty subscription service for women which offers members customised premium products. (1) Reema Mukherjee, 28 Institute |IIM-B (2012) Current Venture |SMERGERS (2) Kaushik Mukherjee, 31 Institute |IIM-A (2008) Current Venture |Velvette.com (3) Angana Jacob, 30 Institute |IIM-A (2008) Current Venture |Couch Gaming (4) Devashish Chakravarty, 42 Institute |IIM-A (2007) Current Venture |Quetzal Verify
  2. 2. (5) Vineeta Singh, 30 Institute |IIM-A (2007) Current Venture |Velvette.com Singh launched Velvette.com with Kaushik Mukherjee (IIM-A, 2008), a year ago. Mukherjee, too, had earlier turned down an offer from Goldman Sachs, New York, to start an online insurance business, Fintact. The business generated online insurance leads for agents who would advise and close sales of life and general insurance products offline. Since the business was not scaling up by 2010, he took up a job with McKinsey and left it this year to start Velvette. Those in the HR domain vouch for the entrepreneurs' go-getter attitude. "A king of a small kingdom is still a king, after all. These are the children of liberalisation and abundance," says Manish Sabharwal, chairman, TeamLease Services. They have enough role models in first-generation entrepreneurs, he says, adding, "They want a lot more from their careers and have a longterm view of money." Besides, he says, many do not choose to operate in a data-heavy profession such as banking with uncertainties like downsizing attached to it. Nishchae Suri, partner and country head, people and change, KPMG, agrees. "These are smart people with very high selfesteem. They don't bother about fallback options," he says. Achievers All the Way Indeeed, many of the young entrepreneurs have a history of achievement to their credit and are currently running fairly successful businesses.
  3. 3. SMERGERS' Mukherjee was only the second woman president of the Students' Council at IIM-B, and a topper in her BTech course at West Bengal University of Technology. Her firm, launched in April this year, already has 500 registered clients besides four to five deals in the pipeline. Chakravarty won the gold medal for best all round student in his batch at IIM-A as well as the Numero Uno Future CEO of India Award. His venture, which provides solutions for middle and senior-level recruitment, employee background verification and training, employs around 20 people full time and a large number of associates across the country. It has grown by 50% for the first five years and is now in the process of getting its first round of funding. Velvette.com has scaled up to 12,000-plus members already. "We are organically growing by 10% to 20% every month," says Singh. The company raised seed funding of around $500,000 earlier this year and will raise its second round in the next three to four months. "When I look back, I feel my decision was right. I am happy with what I am doing right now; I don't want a day job," says Singh, who was the best female all-rounder at IIM-A in 2007. Big Learnings The entrepreneurs have learnt hard lessons. To begin with, "New ventures take time to build," says Singh. Adds Kaushik, the best IIM-A all rounder of 2008: "When we graduated, we were on a high. We wanted to start something new but didn't have enough money to run the company; besides there was a housing bust in between. We couldn't see the signs well then." But this time round, they made sure they had a pilot, and arranged for funding before giving it a go. The first big step, of course, came with the decision to move out of their comfort zones. "It's always tough to forego a steady cash flow, especially in banking," says Jacob. But it all depends on how you approach it.
  4. 4. Successful entrepreneurs, she says, are those who "don't attempt to straddle two boats, brooding about opportunity cost and the comfort of their previous job." Jacob joined as an associate, global markets at Deutsche Bank to become a VP, index strategy within four years. She quit the job last July to launch her company. Jacob's first offering, www.betflurry.com, kicked off three months ago. It is now trying to increase traction from a few hundred players to many thousands and plans to roll out a mobile app soon. Chakravarty of Quetzal says time was another huge factor that influenced 'jumping in'. "I realised that though I could be successful and happy with a career in finance, I would always rue the decision to not try my hand at starting up. I also considered the option of working for a couple of years and then setting off on my own, but realised starting up would not get easier with time."

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