From classroom to boardroom - these entrepreneurs are a class apart


Entrepreneurship is not just the forte of students passing out of colleges. The professor who guides a student, might become his co-founder and lead from the front.

The general view is that academic institutions have an idyllic environment where ideas are debated and discussed in the confines of a theoretical world. To make that big leap where ideas are put into action requires gumption, instinct and moving into an uncomfortable zone. Academicians are now donning the robes of entrepreneurs to venture bravely into this new adventurous startup world.

Professors from premier educational institutes in the country like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) are bringing that marriage between theory and action. Being entrepreneurial and a risk taker now is not just the forte of young students. The professor who can a guide to a student, might become a co-founder and lead from the front.

Faculty Entrepreneurs

Professor Dornadula Chandrasekharam, IIT Bombay

Startup: GeoSyndicate Power

Mumbai-based GeoSyndicate is a cleantech startup incubated at and graduated from IIT Bombay. The company’s chairman is Professor Dornadula Chandrasekharam who teaches at the Department of Earth Sciences since 1987.

GeoSyndicate Power aims to promote the use of non-conventional energy to deliver high efficiency and low-cost electricity to the Indian rural market, simultaneously limiting the environmental pollution. The company’s website claims geothermal is the future of energy. Besides power generation using Geothermal energy, the company also intends to develop products related to various Geo-resources and geo-processes.

Professor Krishnan Balasubramanian, IIT Madras

Startup: Detect Technologies

The startup was founded by Daniel R David, Tarun Mishra, Professor Krishnan Balasubramanian, Harikrishnan and Karthik R. It provides a holistic solution to the inspection needs of energy sector focusing mainly on the pipeline integrity management. According to its website, “The technologies developed at Detect are of highest novelty and ensures thorough inspection of our client pipeline assets.”

Professor Krishnan Balasubramanian teaches at the Mechanical Engineering Department. The other co-founder, Daniel is an alumnus of IIT Madras, and completed his engineering from the same department.

Professor V Ramgopal Rao, IIT Delhi

Startup: NanoSniff

Deep tech startup NanoSniff Technologies was founded by Kapil Bardeja and Dr Nitin Kale in 2011. NanoSniff builds nanotechnology-based products for security and surveillance, hazard detection, medical diagnosis, and applied research. Its clients include the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Germany’s Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science.

Professor V Ramgopal Rao (Director of IIT Delhi) is the chairman of the company. He has been working in the area of micro-cantilevers and nano-sensor based devices for over 20 years.

Professor HS Shankar, IIT Bombay

Startup: Vision Earthcare

Vision Earthcare is a green tech startup working in the area of wastewater management. It was founded in 2004 by HS Shankar (a professor at IIT-B’s Department of Chemical Engineering) and his daughter Malini Balaji. The startup has developed a sustainable bio purification engine which turns sewage into potable water. Its clients include the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Godrej Group, ITC, Taj Hotels, Jindal Steel, and more. 

IIT Bombay

Professor Prabhu Rajagopal, IIT Madras

Startup: Planys Technologies

The startup designs and manufactures compact underwater vehicles for immersed structure inspection and environmental survey. It integrates advance marine robotics with the next-generation inspection techniques to provide efficient, safe and reliable indigenous solutions to challenge underwater and immersed conditions. Its current clients include PSUs and corporates in maritime (ports, terminals, shipping), infrastructures (dams and bridges) and energy (oil and gas, power, hydroelectric) sectors.

The founders of Planys are Tanuj Jhunjhunwala, Vineet Upadhay, Rakesh Sirikonda, Professor Prabhu Rajagopal and Professor Krishnan Balasubramanian. Professor Krishnan Balasubramanian and Professor Prabhu Rajagopal teach at IIT Madras.

Dr Sobhan Babu, IIT Hyderabad

Startup: Plianto Technologies

Plianto Technologies was founded in January 2010 by Dr Sobhan Babu, a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay and currently a faculty member at the department of Computer Science at IIT Hyderabad. The startup builds comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions that automate the management processes of higher education and research institutes. The other team members of the company are Dr Ravindra G, Dr Shiv Govind Singh and Dr Asudeb Dutta, all faculty members at IIT Hyderabad.

 Dr M Manivannan, IIT Madras

Startup: MerkelHaptics

The start-up Merkel Haptics was founded by Dr M Manivannan, a pioneer in haptics - the science of touch - and professor of Biomedical Engineering in IIT Madras, Department of Applied Mechanics. It designs and develops hardware and software for healthcare simulators using advanced virtual reality systems along with haptic feedback technology for training of clinical skills in an immersive environment.