Bengaluru Can’t Guess the Background of India’s Unicorn Founders

A remarkable trend among these exceptional entrepreneurs has been revealed by recent analysis, despite the variety of academic histories one might expect.

YNOS Venture Engine, an organisation that was established at IIT-Madras, conducted an investigation and discovered that over 67% of Indian unicorn company founders have technical degrees.

Almost one-half of the founders in this exclusive startup club, with a combined valuation of more than $1 billion, were engineers two years ago. The diversity of unicorn founders and co-founders has grown along with the number of unicorns, which rose from 100 in 2022 to 114 in 2023.

Presently, a higher percentage of the 206 co-founders and founders of unicorn enterprises have backgrounds in business, economics, architecture, hotel management, and fashion technology.

Women presently make up just approximately 7.2% of this category, whereas non-engineers, including degrees in business, commerce, and economics, comprise up 9% of this group. Notably, approximately 300,000 startups are registered in India.

“Today, there is more diversity among startup founders compared to a decade ago,” says Rajesh Sawhney, founder of GSF Accelerator. “Sector like D2C and deep tech sees a wider variety of educational backgrounds and gender.” Engineers continue to have an advantage because of their rapid iteration, high level of confidence, and willingness to take risks.”

Sixty percent of these engineers are graduates of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), while seven percent of them also hold degrees from Delhi Technology University and Birla Institute of Technology.

India’s Engineering Dominance in the Startup Ecosystem

The startup scene in India is a vibrant centre of creativity and enterprise. By 2023, the nation will have produced over 114 unicorns, solidifying its position as the world leader in tech-related businesses. Most of these unicorn founders have engineering backgrounds rather than MBAs, according to a recent report by YNOS Venture Engine, which is housed at IIT-Madras.

Engineering Dominance Among Unicorn Founders

Over 67% of unicorn company founders in India have engineering backgrounds, according to YNOS. This pattern demonstrates the technical expertise and problem-solving abilities that engineers possess. Nearly 85% of founders were engineers two years ago, an even greater percentage. The educational backgrounds of founders have become noticeably more diverse as the startup ecosystem has developed.

Rising Diversity in Educational Backgrounds

In India, there are already 114 unicorns in 2023 compared to 100 in 2022. The diversity of the academic backgrounds of the founders has increased along with this growth. Presently, there is a higher representation of people from industries including business, economics, architecture, hotel management, and fashion technology among the 206 co-founders and founders of unicorn businesses. Women make up just approximately 7.2% of this elite group, with non-engineers, including graduates of business, commerce, and economics, accounting for 9% of the group.

The Importance of Diverse Skill Sets

The creator of GSF Accelerator, Rajesh Sawhney, observes that compared to ten years ago, there is greater variety among company founders today. This is especially true in industries where there is more diversity in terms of gender and educational background, such as deep tech and direct-to-consumer (D2C). “Engineers still maintain an edge due to their ability to iterate quickly and their high confidence and risk-taking capabilities,” says Sawhney.

Educational Institutions Shaping Unicorn Founders

The data also shows that many of these engineering founders are graduates of highly recognised universities. Sixty percent of these engineers are graduates of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), while seven percent of them also hold degrees from Delhi Technology University and Birla Institute of Technology. The fact that these universities are known for turning out highly skilled engineers is demonstrated by the success of their graduates in the startup scene.

Evolving Dynamics in Founding Teams

Diverse talents in establishing teams are becoming increasingly important, according to Thillai Rajan, founder of YNOS and professor in the Department of Management Studies at IIT Madras. Finding co-founders with complementary expertise has been easier over time, which has helped these businesses succeed. “The diversity in educational backgrounds brings different perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, which is crucial for innovation and growth,” says Rajan.

The Role of Engineers in India’s Startup Success

Given the technological difficulties and innovation-driven nature of many firms, it is not unexpected that engineers make up the majority of Indian unicorn founders. A degree in engineering gives people the abilities necessary to solve challenging issues, create cutting-edge technologies, and launch ground-breaking goods. This technological base and spirit of entrepreneurship have been major contributors to the success of Indian startups.

The Future of Startup Founders

There will probably be more diversity in the educational backgrounds of founders as the startup ecosystem develops. Even while engineers already predominate, the ecosystem will be enhanced and innovation will be driven in new directions with the participation of entrepreneurs from business, economics, and other professions. The growing representation of women among startup founders, although still relatively low, is a positive sign of increasing gender diversity in the tech industry.

The Results

Important information about the educational backgrounds of the founders of India’s unicorn startups can be found in the YNOS Venture Engine analysis. The prevalence of engineers emphasises the need of technical know-how and problem-solving abilities for startup success. Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to see that entrepreneurs come from a wider range of educational backgrounds. This will probably spur innovation and expansion within the startup community. The future of India’s startups appears bright, with a multitude of varied viewpoints and abilities contributing to their success, as more founders from a variety of fields enter the market.

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Saiba Verma, an accomplished editor with a focus on finance and market trends, contributes to Atom News with a dedication to providing insightful and accurate business news. Saiba Verma analytical approach adds depth to our coverage, keeping our audience well-informed.