My first visiting card read ‘from IIM Calcutta’: Bigbasket promoter K Ganesh – Business Today

Kolkata News

K Ganesh, serial entrepreneur and early backer of some of India’s most successful start-ups, remembers his alma mater IIM Calcutta as a place that made him “employable”. The premier management institute topped the BT-MDRA India’s Best B-schools Survey 2022 with an overall score of 902.8 out of 1,000. The rankings are based on five parameters: learning experience, living experience, placement performance, selection process, governance & establishment, and future orientation.

Ganesh, who’s backed the likes of Bigbasket, Portea Medical, Homelane, BlueStone, FreshMenu, Housejoy, among other start-ups, graduated in the 20th batch of IIM-C in 1985, along with his future wife and business partner Meena Ganesh. “That was a passport to a good high-paying job in the corporate sector. The benefits of a top-tier MBA are disproportionate,” he tells Business Today. He recalls his first visiting card, which read “from IIM Calcutta”, instead of stating his company name or designation. “It just helped build credibility and trust in the customer,” he says. 

Further stressing on the positives of a top-tier MBA, Ganesh says those two years of education at a premier institute would give people a “15-year head start”. “There was a clear distinction between engineers and management grads who were working at TELCO [now Tata Motors, his first workplace]. The level, the salary, the position was much higher after the MBA,” he reckons. “If you are able to get into a Tier 1 B-school, by all means you should do it. It guarantees you a position in life and becomes a stamp which gives you entry into opportunities which otherwise you won’t get,” he explains. 

Before starting up, Ganesh went on to work with iconic bosses, including Shiv Nadar at HCL and Sunil Mittal at Bharti British Telecom. “I was the executive assistant to Shiv Nadar, and would report to him. I learnt strategic thinking and on-ground execution from him. The ability to focus from 300 feet to 30,000 feet, I learnt on that job,” he shares. 

Riding on the “confidence and safety net” his IIM-C degree provided, Ganesh later took the entrepreneurial plunge. “It gave me the ability to branch out and start something from scratch. We didn’t even have a house of our own then. But, if the venture didn’t work out, I could always go back and get a top-level job. That safety net lets you take risks,” he says.

Well, he didn’t have to go back to any corporate job. 

His pioneering edtech start-up TutorVista, which he founded in 2006, got acquired by Pearson for a reported Rs 1,000 crore back in 2013. Since then, Ganesh and his wife have identified, incubated, and nurtured budding entrepreneurs and given wings to many new ideas. 

But the 60-year-old laments that IIMs even today have little to no focus on entrepreneurship. “The course content is still steeped in old-age management practices. Upgrading the course to meet today’s environment and start-up environment is the need of the hour. But their focus is on Day Zero jobs rather than on creating entrepreneurs who can create employment,” he states. 

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