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Here’s a great news to start your week with. If you’re one of those who aspires to build themselves a billion-dollar business in India in the near future, then enrolling yourself in one of the country’s IITs is your safest bet to success.

Sage, a UK-based accounting and payroll company, recently carried out a study in which it listed universities all around the world that can be credited with having produced the most unicorn founders. According to the report published, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), which are considered premier institutes in the country, are the fourth largest producer of unicorn startups in the world. The first position was bagged by US-based Stanford University for having churned out 51 unicorn founders and the second position went to Harvard University with 37 unicorn founders. The third rank was occupied by California with 18 unicorn founders, which was followed by IIT for fourth rank with 12 billion-dollar founders.

For the unversed, a unicorn startup is the one that has more than a billion-dollar valuation. Currently, India houses 10 unicorn startups that have been responsible for putting the country on the world map of startup ecosystem.


India is home to 10 unicorn companies making them the poster boys of the country’s startup ecosystem. From e-commerce biggies Flipkart, Snapdeal and ShopClues to restaurant aggregator Zomato, mobile adtech firm InMobi, analytics company Mu Sigma, classified ads platform Quickr, cab aggregator Ola, digital payments company Paytm, and messaging app Hike, these 10 are the members of the elite group of unicorn companies in India and almost all of them have founders from one of the IITs.

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When it comes to IITs, IIT Delhi has churned out the maximum founders and has names like Flipkart’s Sachin and Binny Bansal, Quikr’s Pranay Chulet and Jiby Thomas, Snapdeal’s Rohit Bansal, ShopClues’ Sanjay Sethi, and Zomato’s Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah as its esteemed alumni. Inmobi’s founders Naveen Tiwari, Abhay Singhal and Amit Gupta went to IIT Kanpur while their co-founder Mohit Saxena was a student of IIT Roorkee. Ola’s founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati are a product of IIT Bombay.

According to a statement given by IIT Delhi director V Ramgopal Rao, who is himself an alumnus of IIT Bombay to TOI, “Good students and faculty is a given with IITs. What is probably the differentiator with IIT Delhi is the culture of the institute which has been cultivated over several decades. They are more connected to the society and have a deep awareness of the problems that exist. Hence, they are able to look for solutions and become entrepreneurs.”

According to industry observers, while in the earlier days it was the rigorous entrance exams and competitive spirit among the students that gave birth to such establishments, nowadays the institute is placing a special effort in fostering unicorns.

Sage’s elaborate study also revealed that for over a 60% of the unicorn founders, the current unicorn was the only business that they had built and nurtured. However, the study also indicated that experience surely does play a crucial part in success as the study found out that people who have founded more than one company have, on an average, had a 34.5% higher valuation than those who founded just one.

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When it comes to counting the number of unicorn companies that a country houses, US emerges at the top with 144, followed by China with 47. Here, India settles for the third position with 10 unicorn companies.

Sage’s study also said that the year 2007 emerged as the bumper founding year as many as 29 companies joined the unicorn companies club, including Indian ecommerce biggie Flipkart. Further, the study also identified the year 2015 as the year of the unicorn as many as 86 companies added the unicorn credibility to their companies. However, the year 2016 wasn’t that great as only 41 companies joined the unicorn club.

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