The B- net­work

Some bud­ding en­trepreneurs are opt­ing for a B- school course after found­ing a start- up. Their big at­trac­tion — the ad­van­tage of net­works that a B- school can of­fer.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - BY E. KU­MAR SHARMA

Some bud­ding en­trepreneurs are opt­ing for a B-school course after found­ing a start-up

Ev­ery year, hun­dreds of man­age­ment grad­u­ates opt out of place­ment ses­sions and go on to set up own ven­tures. But of late, B-schools have been a wit­ness to an­other trend — en­trepreneurs join­ing an MBA course after found­ing a startup. While learn­ing new skills to run the busi­ness bet­ter and gain­ing knowl­edge are some of the ad­van­tages they look for­ward to, sur­pris­ingly, one of the big­gest sources of value for most is the ad­van­tage of net­works that a good B-school can of­fer.

But is it worth the risk? After all, most are in their early-growth phase and join­ing a B-school may slow things down. Also, mat­ters could be­come com­pli­cated if there are part­ners in­volved. “Time is valu­able. You have to bal­ance the gain from the course against the loss of mo­men­tum in busi­ness dur­ing the year the founder is away. The gain when they re­turn has to be huge to com­pen­sate for the loss in mo­men­tum for the busi­ness,” says Sarath Naru, Founder and Man­ag­ing Part­ner, Ven­tureast, a lead­ing VC firm. His sug­ges­tion: “Set clear ex­pec­ta­tions with part­ners on how you run the busi­ness and how you in­tend to make up for the loss.”


The en­trepreneurs are un­de­terred. Ankit Biyani, study­ing at In­dian School of Busi­ness, or ISB, Hy­der­abad cam­pus, is the Pres­i­dent-En­trepreneur­ship and Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Club for the Class of 2018. He also runs a start-up that he and his brother, Pratik Biyani, founded. It is called Lit­tle Things (Magic Palate Ven­tures) – a Café and Patis­serie based out of Hy­der­abad. His brother is han­dling

op­er­a­tions in his ab­sence. “I found I had sev­eral short­com­ings, from lack of net­works in the right ar­eas to not pos­sess­ing the do­main know-how to ex­e­cute bet­ter to fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in find­ing like-minded team mem­bers who could work along­side me to build the busi­ness. Be­ing a one-year pro­gramme that of­fered ex­ten­sive knowl­edge and pow­er­ful net­works, ISB seemed the right fit.” He is clear on what he in­tends to take back: “The most im­por­tant take­away is the net­work I have been able to build. I have met a bunch of tal­ented and smart in­di­vid­u­als in dif­fer­ent do­mains. This will make it eas­ier for me to find my next CTO/CMO and the like.” He is not alone. “Our batch has over 300 peo­ple who have ei­ther worked for a start-up or founded a com­pany. About 40-50 are busi­ness own­ers. That is a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber and adds great value to the net-

work,” he says.

Were there any added spin-offs from the course? “The dif­fer­ence be­tween now and ear­lier is that I have a greater set of tools and frame­works to view the busi­ness. Ear­lier, I didn’t know what to do when faced with a tough sit­u­a­tion and so tried dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to see which one works. Now, it is dif­fer­ent. For ex­am­ple, I now clearly un­der­stand the im­por­tance of mar­ket­ing. This was one rea­son I could not suc­ceed in my ear­lier ven­ture.”

Amit Ku­mar Singh, from IIM-Ban­ga­lore's 2017/19 post grad­u­ate diploma batch, says: “I be­lieve in­ter­ac­tion with peo­ple with sim­i­lar goals will help me or­gan­ise my thoughts in line with my dreams and give an in­sight into busi­ness pro­cesses. The cour­ses are en­rich­ing, the ped­a­gogy stim­u­lates think­ing, and we are be­ing trained to think and man­age time and re­sources. I be­lieve all this will make me a bet­ter man­ager, be it for my own start-up or any other com­pany.”

His batch­mate, Shub­han­shuk Sarkar, says: “Dur­ing my years as an de­signer in the mo­bile gam­ing in­dus­try, I learnt how the right net­work can take your prod­uct or com­pany to new heights. At IIM-B,

I hope to cul­ti­vate a net­work of pro­fes­sional re­source­ful peo­ple for my fu­ture ven­tures. Holis­tic and over­ar­ch­ing learn­ing about or­gan­i­sa­tions, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, and man­ag­ing hu­man and other re­sources should pre­pare me for the un­pre­dictable road of en­trepreneur­ship.” On what prompted him to opt for the course in the first place, he says: “Mar­ket­ing was a ma­jor con­cern, se­verely un­der­es­ti­mated by me. I re­ceived a brief in­tro­duc­tion to mar­ket­ing dur­ing my years as a pro­fes­sional in the in­dus­try. Only after start­ing a ven­ture did I re­alise the scope of the sub­ject. I made up my mind to get train­ing on the sub­ject and other con­sid­er­a­tions that go into run­ning a stu­dio.”

Sandip Garg of the PGPM 2016/18 batch at MDI, Gur­gaon, joined the pro­gramme in June 2016, when he was run­ning a startup called Raw and Ripe to elim­i­nate the role of mid­dle­men in the sup­ply chain for fruits and veg­eta­bles in Delhi, Noida and Gur­gaon. He says the start up was launched in De­cem­ber 2016 and had to be shut down as his part­ner left. He wants to get back to en­trepreneur­ship again after the course, which it says will arm him with skills in mar­ket­ing and man­ag­ing cash flows. Most im­por­tant, he says, the course will help him lever­age the B-school net­work. He plans to pay back his `18 lakh loan he took up to pay the fee, build a fi­nan­cial cush­ion and then head back to en­trepreneur­ship.

More power to him and his ilk. ~

Stu­dent of MDI, Gur­gaon, who used to run a food sup­ply chain start- up “I want to get back to en­trepreneur­ship again after the course, which will arm me with skills in mar­ket­ing and man­ag­ing cash flows”

IIM- B stu­dent who used to work in the mo­bile gam­ing in­dus­try “Dur­ing my years as a de­signer in the in­dus­try, I learnt how the right net­work can take your prod­uct or com­pany to new heights."

Stu­dent of ISB Hy­der­abad and co- founder of a Café and Patis­serie “I found I had sev­eral short­com­ings, from lack of net­works in the right ar­eas to not pos­sess­ing the know- how to ex­e­cute."

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