Pursuing his Passion: Rajeev Ranka, Aspiring Entrepreneur
This piece follows the ‘Why Students do not study at IIT-Bombay?’ article that was published in the January ’13 (15.2) issue of InsIghT. We speak to Rajeev Ranka who tells us how he pursues his passion for entrepreneurship, at times, even at the expense of his academics.
What are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about starting a new business venture, which is evident as I along with a few others have started a venture called ‘Startup Today’, which has been functional since last 4 months. It is a business networking portal that connects Potential Startups to VCs, Angel Investors and Private Equity Firms. What inspired me to pursue this domain of Entrepreneurship was my Internship at IIM –A’s Centre of Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I met many IIT and IIM Grads who were working in big MNCs but were not satisfied internally with their work, in fact they felt that identity was lost in the Company primarily due to delays in implementation of your ideas but also the fact that you get molded into the company’s objective rather than your own. The fact that you get to brainstorm a lot and start things from scratch, and see things actually grow and be implemented gives me a huge deal of satisfaction. Additionally, I believe having your own start-up, is a huge value addition to society, apart from the fact that there is a huge long term growth prospective, i.e. in Start-ups there is a higher scope of growth, as you are the master of your own future.
How much time do you devote on your Entrepreneurship Venture vis-à-vis Academics? Is your Passion affecting your Academics, if so, does it bother you?
I generally spend 4 hours a day on average on my passion. Sometimes much more that ! The work involves Updating FB Page of ‘Startup Today’, Profiling Investors, meeting Prospective Investors etc. When it comes to Academics, on an average, I barely study. The only time I study is right before the Quiz /Midsem-Endsem. In spite of this, to answer your question, I think it is affecting my academics only to a certain extent, because even if I had not been following my passion, I certainly wouldn’t be studying everyday for 3-4 hours! I feel the courses here are too theoretical, and do not prepare you for a job. Also, the issue is about the professors also. However to a certain extent since my Entrepreneurship Venture, demands a lot of time, it surely factors in my academics, for sure, but I generally am not that bothered about it, as I truly believe that my Venture is creating Value, and my ideas are being converted into actions, that is what is currently giving me satisfaction.
What are your expectations from IIT Bombay in terms of helping you realize your passion?
To a certain degree our Institute supports my passion, as it has a policy of Deferred Placements, along with SINE, which acts as a huge boost as it shares and has a database of huge Industry Stalwarts. However, on a more Personal level, apart from the above Policies and Institutions, it seems that Institute (i.e. our Academic Professors or Administration) inherently prioritizes Academics over our Passion. For them the only reason that acts as a sufficient excuse for being absent in a Quiz is a Pink Slip and nothing else. I could not attend a B-Plan Competition at another University because of this.
A suggestions or expectation that I have from our Institute is that apart from SINE, they could try give make access to the database of past IIT Alumni, in the field of required expertise/Angel Investors and VCs more available, and promote Entrepreneurship apart from E-Cell propagated ideas but rather more Institute supported Activity, and finally factor in a reasonable excuse like meeting Angel Investors etc. valid for Bunking Quizzes or at least be more supportive of it.
Where do you see yourself after Graduating from IIT Bombay?
Till I graduate, I would be focusing on my current Start-up, which currently requires a bare minimum cost of operation, after which I would look forward to take up a Job through Campus Placements for a year or two, so that I can amass some Initial Capital, and then use that money to support a new venture in the future. I want to run a start-up, completely funded by my money, and I don’t want to depend on a Venture Capitalist firm, as then again it would lead to loss of Original Idea, as it would then be guided by the VCs interest. I believe in self sufficiency and independence.