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A year ago, students at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) were cautious towards job offers from start-ups, given a gloomy economic scenario. Not today. Placements at the IIMs and other B-schools have seen an increase in the number of students lapping up offers by start-ups — including even those visiting campuses for the first time, thanks to the high level of creative freedom. For instance, a first-time recruiter at IIM Ahmedabad, Embibe.com, an education technology start-up, saw 100 per cent job offer acceptance by students in the recently concluded final placements process at the premier B-school. Of the total six offers Embibe.com made, half of them were accepted by students who had other job offers from large companies. “There is a lot of intellectual integrity and high level of ownership, along with creative freedom being given at Embibe.com. I believe these were some of the reasons that despite visiting IIM-A for the first time we met with 100 per cent offer acceptance rate, with all six offers accepted. We are seeing students, too, are looking for creative freedom at the workplace and opportunity to grow within the organisation over just some high profiles,” says Aditi Avasthi, chief executive officer of Indiavidual Learning, which runs Embibe.com. IIM-Lucknow, one of the first IIMs to complete its final placements process, attributes the increased number of start-ups on its campus to the successful completion of the placement process. The institute saw start-ups such as TaxiForSure.com and Flipkart, among others, offering jobs during placements. “We could finish our placements in record time because apart from regular recruiters, a good number of jobs were created by start-ups this year which also saw quick acceptance by our students. While start-ups are willing to benchmark their salaries in comparison to their larger competitors, students too are willing to work with them for better exposure,” says Pushpendra Priyadarshi, Chairperson Placements at IIM-Lucknow. On their part, start-ups believe offering competitive compensation allows students to work without worrying about money. For instance, Housing.com has offered salaries of Rs 12-Rs 18 lakh in the IITs and Rs 15-Rs 20 lakh in the IIMs. “Students are looking at the quality of the work that they get to do in start-ups.
We also pay people adequately, so that they do not have to worry about money,” says Advitiya Sharma, co-founder of Housing.com, adding the start-up has the backing of its investors in offering good packages. However, start-ups and B-schools alike believe apart from compensation, it is also the degree of responsibility and autonomy that has been attracting students this year. “We look to give a Silicon Valley kind of environment, and since it is a venture backed product company, we challenge our co-workers to give their best. We look to facilitate growth of our co-workers at Embibe.com. I want people joining us to become CEOs of their own dreams in the next five years. Apart from IIM-A, we have also been approached by Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurgaon and National Institute of Design (NID) Bangalore where students have shown tremendous liking towards work opportunities with start-ups.” Avasthi adds. According to Sharma, it is the “sense of ownership” that has worked in favour of Housing.com which has offered 20-25 roles to students of business schools, including IIM-Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Lucknow, Bangalore, and Indian School of Business. They had also hired 40-45 people from the IITs. Through this, the start-up has grown from its initial workforce of 12 people to 800 in about 18 months. Placement officials say as long as the role is challenging, students do not mind if the salary is a little less. A placement official of one of the older IIMs said students now prefer to join start-ups where they can work freely and implement new ideas, rather than work for a big company where the vision and values are already in place. In terms of sectors, new companies from the real estate and rental car segment have also thronged business schools during placements. This is because these companies are expanding aggressively and need good management talent at a short notice. “Being in their initial stages of growth, start-ups look for top management roles early, and, hence, offer good profiles and responsible roles. On the contrary, growth in large organisations has become slow over a period of time,” says Bhavya Kapoor, placement officer at IIM-Indore.