Accelerator launched for IIT alums in Valley

The non-profit aims to provide workshops, mentorship and more to members of the exclusive club


Ritu Jha


So IIT alums are going beyond business and reunions – up to the next level.

More than 400 IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) alumni, from veterans like Vinod Khosla, (IIT Delhi) to unicorn entrepreneur Dheeraj Pandey, (IIT Kanpur, of Nutanix fame) came together January 18 for the launch of the IIT Startups Accelerator, a non-profit to support and promote Silicon Valley-based startups, at The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Monishi Sanyal (IIT Madras, 1965-1970) who came up with the idea of setting up the accelerator told indica he did not expect such a huge turnout, even in Silicon Valley.

“I thought hardly 200 people would come, but to my surprise, 425 landed up. We have to refuse many due to the space issue,” Sanyal said, “There is a demand that we didn’t realize existed.”

Sanyal, the founder of Intersoft Corporation, also set up the Pan IIT Alumni Association and is the brand ambassador of the IIT Madras Research Park in Silicon Valley.

Sanyal said the plan came together only a few months ago. There are 11,000 IITians in the Silicon Valley and IITs are currently ranked fourth in the world, coming in after Stanford, Harvard and Berkeley, in having alumni running unicorn startups (companies valued at $1 billion).

“We want to get it further up. There are need and demand,” said Sanyal, asserting that IIT Startup Accelerators will address a long felt need and help IITians do even better.

Sanyal admitted that the idea had germinated recently and a team was being formed, among other things to address funding. He said this would involve getting grants from bigger companies to keep things going. The goal is to help the IIT Silicon Valley-based startup, offering workshops and mentorship to conceptualize products, prepare a business plan, raise funds, have effective marketing and more.

Meanwhile, present at the event was Vish Mishra, (IIT-BHU) and a senior venture capitalist as well as chairman of TiEcon 2017, told indica he expects to run a clinic for the entrepreneurs and mentor them.

He conceded that TiE, established in 1992, has been dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship does the same thing but this venture was limited to startups of IIT alumni.

Mishra said the modern generation of IIT graduates were different in that they did not want to work long years in corporate jobs, preferring to do something on their own.

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