In downturn, fortunes of IIT-B firms look up

While the global downturn has hit most businesses, IIT Bombay entrepreneurs comprising former students and faculty, among others, have remained largely unaffected.

The percentage of companies incubated at IIT Bombay Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) has gone up significantly in the past five years from 25 to 75. The firms have been attracting steady investment from venture capitalists, with three receiving funding to the tune of Rs 2-3 crore this year.

"Most of these companies are technology based and have strong intellectual property. These will do better as time progresses. Investors look at all these aspects," said C Amarnath, former professor-in-charge of SINE.

The society, which was formed in 2004 and administers a business incubator that supports technology based entrepreneurship, is currently incubating 15 companies.

"Only a few companies would get funds a few years ago, but today most are attracting investment, which is a good sign for budding entrepreneurs. This year, Covacsis Technologies and iKen Solutions have been the beneficiaries," said SINE CEO Sushanto Mitra.

He said recession, when most big companies tend to focus on routine, not so much on new products, was the best time for start-ups.

"A start-up focuses on products, innovations and solutions and is less affected by recession."

Rahul Prakash, head of marketing and alliances at iKen, said while the eco-system was better than what it used to be a few years ago, one must have a product to convince a venture capitalist.

iKen is an analytic company for personalised user experience and is the brainchild of an IIT Bombay professor. "We also struggled a lot initially and had to come up with live clients before we could convince the investor. The funding we received this year is very important as it will help increase our operational efficiency as well as our reach in India and abroad. It will also help expand our team," said Prakash.

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