Being a successful startup owner is not an easy task- it is counted as one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Many successful people don’t have a college degree but success doesn’t require a degree. The two most well-known names include those Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. These are stories that are known to the world. There are many more dropouts which are yet to be known because of their rigorous hard work and dedication towards the path of becoming a successful entrepreneur. So, let us see the insights on the topic- 5 College Dropouts Entrepreneurs In The Indian Startup Ecosystem.
Successful College Dropouts in India
1. Ritesh Agarwal
Ritesh Agarwal is one of the top Indian college dropouts who became successful in India. He is the founder and CEO of hospitality business and app - Oyo Rooms - a network of 2,200 hotels operating in 154 cities across India - with monthly revenues of $3.5m and 1,500 employees. He holds a high school degree from St. Johns Senior Secondary School. He dropped out of college and sold sim cards to survive in spite of coming from a well-to-do family.
He travelled a lot, stayed at budget hotels and attended customer calls. This proved to be a good experience which helped him establish his business very firmly. OYO Rooms is a room aggregator business. The idea man behind OYO rooms is Ritesh Agarwal. Ritesh founded a company Oravel. He was obsessed with the idea of providing a budget enabled hotel at the age of 18 yrs. Later, he rebranded this concept to OYO Rooms.
His model attracted many investors. Some of these include Light speed Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Green Oaks Capital. It has raised a total of $125million of funding in 4 rounds from 7 investors. Agarwal has won many awards and accolades for his work including the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award. He is a regular speaker at entrepreneurial conferences and institutes across India and the world and a fellow of the Thiel Foundation.
2. Kunal Shah
He is another top Successful Indian College Dropout Entrepreneurs. He dropped out to start Freecharge. He co-founded Freecharge with Sandeep Tandon. Freecharge is a concept in the online recharging system. It offered a three-step recharge with exciting cashback offers. He founded the company in 2010. It was recently acquired by SnapDeal. He studied for his BA at Wilson College. He acquired a degree in philosophy and went onto study business management at NMIMS. But he dropped out. His first venture was Paisaback. This offered cash back from retailers.
3. Mahesh Murthy
He dropped out of Osmania University to sell vacuum cleaners. He went door to door to make sales. Post that he started writing. He wrote for Unilever, Pepsi and MTV among others. He also did a lot of creative ad campaigns and became a creative director. He created several top-notch commercials, which won him awards. He founded the ad agency Pinstorm in 2004.
Pinstorm is a leading search engine marketing firm in Asia. He offered a ‘pay-for-performance’ model. This worked well with most corporate and was received well for a start-up. He has counselled in marketing for 29 years and spent over thirteen years helping start-ups. He has helped seed fund and founded over ten start-up ventures in India alone. He believes that entrepreneurs should “Dream Big. The earth’s the limit.”
4. Kailash Katkar
Born on the 1st of November 1966, in the village of Rahimatpur in Maharashtra, the Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Rs. 200-crore+ Quick Heal Technologies. He grew up in Pune, where his father used to work at Philips as a machine setter. Kailash had to drop out of his studies soon after he completed his SSC (10th Grade), primarily due to family circumstances. He started his career by working in repairs shop to help his family financially. He repaired calculators and radios. Later, in 1990, he started his own repairs shop. In 1993, he started a computer repair zone– CAT.
He was inspired as his younger brother Sanjay, had developed anti-virus software to solve their issue of computer maintenance. As time went on, he rebranded and expanded. By 2007, he named his company Quick Heal Technologies. It is the first company in India to create and market an antivirus solution. It has also started an R&D section for research in security solutions. The company masters the art of cloud-based security and advanced machine learning enabled solutions to stop threats, attacks and malicious traffic before it strikes with the help of its services.
This service includes– Quick Heal Total Security, Quick Heal Internet Security, Quick Heal PCTuner 3.0, etc for the Home Users, along with Quick Heal Total Security for Android, Quick Heal Mobile Security, Quick Heal Gadget Securance, Fonetastic Free, Fonetastic Pro, etc for the Mobile users. The company today has transformed into an IT security solutions empire which is spread across 60 countries worldwide including 31 branch offices across India along with offices in countries like Japan, USA, Kenya and Dubai.
5. Rahul Yadav
Rahul born to a middle-class family from Rajasthan is an IIT (Bombay) final year dropout. He had enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 2007 to specialize in metallurgy. He also went on to serve as the representative and secretary for the university’s student association as well. Dropping out of IIT in the fourth years is not easy. It’s even tougher to succeed after that or so you would believe. But Rahul Yadav proved otherwise.
Not only did he drop out of IIT, but he also launched a successful portal, Housing.com. He co-founded this portal and became CEO. This portal helps to search and sell properties worth millions. Within the first week itself, the portal sold properties worth eight million. Yadav was featured in the Forbes list of young entrepreneurs – “30 under 30”. The company today, with a strong team of 2500 people housing.com is valued at ₹1500 crores.
The company at the moment gets more than 11 million visitors on the website/month and has also crossed a million app downloads as well. And talking about their funding rounds, housing.com has raised a total of $139.5 Million in 4 Rounds from 6 Investors including – SoftBank Capital, Helion Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures.