05 Dec 2019 19:18 IST

Entrepreneurship is learnt, not taught, says XIME Founder

Prof J Philip says those who have it in their DNA learn faster, and that failure is part of the process

Prof J Philip, Founder and Chairman of Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (XIME), can rightly be called a pioneer in management education. After studying and working at XLRI, he became its Dean in 1970. After a productive stint in industry, with SAIL and the Oberoi group, he returned to academics as Director of IIM Bangalore from 1985 to 1991. After this stint ended, Prof Philip founded XIME in 1991. In this interview with BL on Campus, Prof Philip talks about XIME’s national business plan competition and how it fosters entrepreneurship, and also on how XIME’s entrepreneurship tag has spawned many entrepreneurs in the Indian business scene.

When did XIME start the business plan competition and how has it evolved and progressed over the years?

It has been a continuous process. Creating a business plan competition has been a part of our core course in entrepreneurship development. This has encouraged students to come up with innovative ideas and conduct internal competitions. However, we started the intra-campus competition in 2018-19 among XIME campuses — Bengaluru, Kochi, and Chennai. This academic year, it has evolved as a national competition.

How does an event like this help foster entrepreneurship?

Such competitions extend and support such initiatives as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’. Preparing for the competition instils courage and confidence among students to create and present their innovative ideas. Presenting a business plan gives opportunities to get feedback from an eminent panel, as also to raise funds, It facilitates networking with entrepreneurs and investors, and students get to present their ideas to a larger audience, increasing their visibility.

    Does XIME keep track of its students who take to entrepreneurship? Could you share some numbers and the kind of businesses that XIME alumni have kick-started?

    Of course, we do. Two years ago, we celebrated a day to honour our students who have become entrepreneurs. If we take the first 20 batches, at least 15 per cent of them are owners of business enterprises. Some of the successful enterprises are Hunger Box by Sandipan Mitra, HiGrid Imaging by Harish Francis, Parijatham-silk saree outlets and online sales by Anantram, Organic Farming by Rishab Choubey, Maravanthe Restaurant, a coastal cuisine restaurant in Bengaluru by Sachin Padukone, Multiply Ventures by Sanjay Ramakrishanan, and an overseas enterprise Ignitho in London by Joseph Olassa. .

      From the time you started XIME in the early 1990s till now, do you see that the ecosystem for entrepreneurship has improved vastly?

      Yes. The Centre has been encouraging entrepreneurship through initiatives such as Start-Up India and Mudra loan scheme concessions to SMEs. Many engineering colleges and B-schools have launched incubation centres. There has been a phenomenal growth of angel investors and VCs who are willing to support innovative ideas and start-ups. We have also started an incubation centre. But the most important development was the slow and steady acceptance by society of start-up failures. It is now recognised as a do-while loop learning.

        There is always a debate that entrepreneurs are born, not taught...what is your opinion?

        In my opinion, entrepreneurship is not taught; rather, it is learnt. We facilitate the learning process.

          What is it that XIME does differently from a traditional MBA programme to promote entrepreneurship?

          We have a core course on entrepreneurship. There is a club called Empresario Club which conducts various activities such as inviting entrepreneurs to interact with students, conduct b-plan contests, organise real-time activities, like visiting SMEs or running an e-shop. The biggest canvas is that XIME itself is a social enterprise, that started from almost nothing by a visionary founder. Entrepreneurship is in the air here, with ‘E’ in the name itself.