Many of today’s top engineers have been graduating from schools in India and at record speeds. According to the HRD Ministry, more than 1.5 million students take post-secondary engineering courses every year in the country. Unfortunately, however, nearly half and 48 percent of those engineers are jobless.
One reason, based on a study by employment evaluation company Aspiring Minds, is that the majority of engineers in India are unqualified for the job despite a university education. The report indicates that about 80 percent of engineers fail to demonstrate critical economic skills, which may seem atypical for an engineering job but required in today’s market.
It’s no longer enough to prevail in technology, business, marketing, and accounting have all become important aspects of a successful engineering career.
For some graduates, this has not served as a deterrent. Although they may not be hired for technical or corporate gigs as planned, many are going it on their own. This means becoming self-employed or trying their luck at a startup.
Here are a few examples of engineers turned entrepreneurs who’ve found success:
From CCTV to fashion
Electrical and electronics engineer, Zubair Rahman, worked as a CCTV operator at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, when he received a call to install CCTVs in the office of an eCommerce business.
“I went to fix the CCTVs and got curious about the operations of the company,” shares Rahman. “I talked to the manager there, and he told me how the business was making money by sourcing and selling items online.”
This idea interested Rahman because it means a few overhead costs — he could work eCommerce from a computer at home. In 2015, he quit his technical job and spent just Rs 10,000 to start The Fashion Factory at his house.
Rahman discovered a unique strategy for marketing kids apparel in combo packs. It worked so well that The Fashion Factory now accepts 200 to 300 orders a day. By accomplishing these orders, Rahman’s company earns about Rs 50 lakh each month.
An online menu
Deepinder Goyal, a graduate from IIT Delhi, was working with management consulting firm Bain and Company when he noticed something. His colleagues would spend a lot of time and effort going through different restaurant menus just to order lunch.
Although most people wouldn’t think twice, Goyal decided to make life easier by collecting and scanning the restaurant menus to upload online. He created a website with his co-worker, Pankaj Chaddah, also an IIT Delhi graduate. Eventually, the two turned the site into a company, Zomato (initially, called Foodiebay), which offers an extensive list of restaurants, ratings, and even helps users make the ideal foodie choices.
Accounting made easy
Vyapar software engineer, Sumit Agarwal, identified a business opportunity when he was operating for Intuit’s QuickBooks, an accounting software combination for small businesses. He recognized the need for a platform that offered small companies and MSMEs simplified answers for accounting and inventory management.
With Rs 8 lakh in savings, Agarwal launched Vyapar in 2016. It is a simple business accounting and file management application for small businesses.
“By utilizing Vyapar, an entrepreneur can stay on top of his or her finances, manage payments on time, keep track of inventory, generate GST records, and make smarter business decisions,” he shared.
Today, the app is accessible for smartphones and desktops and has been downloaded by over one million MSMEs. Agarwal’s company has also reached Rs 3 crore annual revenue.
“In today’s day and age, it is important that Indian MSMEs go digital. Using manageable software like Vyapar to manage billings, receivables, and payables helps Indian MSMEs stay on top of their game,” he added.
After a bad experience when taking a cab, Bhavish Aggarwal decided to begin his own company. An entrepreneur at heart, with a degree from IIT Bombay, he quit a two-year job at Microsoft to do so.
That’s how Ola Cabs, an Indian ridesharing company, began in 2010. It started to offer better service that includes ride service hailing, peer-to-peer ridesharing, as well as food delivery. Today it’s valued at about $10 billion.
A payment app
Sharma may have come from humble beginnings but he’s since experienced major in e-commerce business. He went to the Delhi College of Engineering and founded a One97, a communication company that eventually led to the development of the multi-million dollar Paytm platform.
Paytm is an Indian e-commerce payment system that’s currently available in 11 Indian languages, offers users several online functions — such as making utility bill payments, event bookings, grocery store payments, pay parking tolls, educational institutions, and much more.
What began as a prepaid mobile and has become India’s first payment app to hit more than 100 million downloads and attract well-known investors, such as Warren Buffet.
Founder, Urja Gasifiers Ajay Kumar Jaiswal, first started Urja Gasifiers to produce renewable energy and provide energy-efficient and eco-friendly products to customers. An engineer and a technocrat, he wanted to make a difference in sustainability.
He says the company quickly became well-known for pollution control and quality manufacturing, performance, and after-sales service. However, things changed when he began manufacturing and adding cremation systems to his product list.
“My focus shifted to developing cremation systems through years of research,” he says. “It is now patented and is gaining acceptance among the Hindu community as it takes care of their religious and spiritual beliefs.”
Jaiswal offers an eco-friendly cremation system that reduces wood consumption by 70 percent. The market size of the cremation system in India is more than Rs 5,000 crore and Urja differentiates itself from competitors in terms of its technology, quality, and price. Today, the business has an annual turnover of more than Rs 1.25 crore.