So the right thing to do would be to understand the gaps in your business plan, try to fill these gaps with the help of seniors and industry experts, and then validate your idea and venture out to start the company. Subramaniam says, “When Apple, for instance, introduced the iPod, it wasn’t that MP3 players didn’t exist at that time. It required a pioneer like Steve Jobs to sell it, and Apple’s top team to innovate on many features including the look and feel.”
Sharing his experience, Chaddha says, “Normally what has been happening with most engineering graduates since the last four-five years is that they settle for IT jobs. Joining IT companies will definitely not give them the right exposure to be entrepreneurs at a later stage. I know at least 20 fresh engineering graduates who have started their own businesses while managing their graduation.” He adds, “I would recommend engineers to work in a start-up in their second or third year itself as interns and understand the environment. Then they can start on their own immediately after they graduate, or even before that. But yes, they defnitely do need some experience, which they can acquire only by working in a good start-up rather than a large organisation.”
Ganesh Shankar shares his belief, “I think it is certainly beneficial to seek employment first (prior to launching a start-up) so as to get first-hand experience in problem solving in the industry, upgrade both technical and non-technical skills, and also build contacts in the supply chain. The bottom line is: Who is going to spend on the learning (read: mistakes) when you start your career? If you start a business right away, you have to pay for the learning yourself.”
Is it worth the effort?
“Honestly, looking at the current employment figures, there is hardly any choice,” believes Chaddha. He adds, “A recent article that I came across reported that 1.5 million engineers graduate every year, and only 150,000 jobs are available in large companies. So, the remaining engineers are either going to join a start-up, become entrepreneurs, or prepare for GATE and pursue a master’s degree. Honestly speaking, even after the completion of their master’s degree, most students are again in the same kind of situation.”
So the bottom line is they need to have skills and guts. Chaddha says, “If you are looking for a very secure and stable life, yes, go ahead with a job. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, the instability and insecurity is definitely high initially, but it’s much more fun.”
Many students give up early. They must have patience and believe in their idea, feels Subramaniam. He says, “They shouldn’t get frustrated, because it’s going to be a tough journey, but the rewards will be very satisfying.” Ganesh Shankar believes it will be rewarding both financially and profesionally only if one is ready to pursue it for a long time, especially if you are talking about a business in manufacturing, repairs or assembly in the field of electronics. Making an important point, he says, “Unlike the Internet and mobile start-ups, these industries are capital intensive—you have got to get equipment, tools and assembly lines. It may take a while to break even and then make profit.
Is it a good time to start a business?
“The ESDM industry is a very large industry, even if you consider just the Indian market. If you ask me whether engineering graduates should immediately dive into it, I would say they should if they are passionate about their idea, and even though it might be risky,” says Subramaniam, who founded Cosmic Circuits.
Ganesh Shankar says, “I personally think it is a good time to start your own business. One of the most important reasons is that, we now have fast computers available at low prices, and there are many software tools freely available online or at reasonable prices. Computer-aided development is the current trend, and anyone with a strong grasp of engineering fundamentals, good creativity and some training in software can potentially design any thing under the sun.”
Chaddha informs, “The biggest pitfall that I have observed is that students take their teachers too seriously. Most lecturers encourage students to settle for a job. If students take their education very seriously, this becomes their biggest hurdle. They must use their education for their own benefit and not merely to excel in terms of scoring high marks.”