GeneralHr Library

IITs and Dead Horses

Source | LinkedIn : By Ashim Roy

The recent announcement from Flipkart that they are delaying the start date of new hires has led to a flurry of activities at the placement offices in IITs and IIMs campuses. It was reported that all IIT Placement Committees will “aim to come up with a well thought out start-up placement strategy”. There is much being written about Flipkart’s problems such as lack of GMV (Gross merchandise volume) growth, declining market capitalization and many other problems. It seems that the financial pundits woke up all of a sudden and decided to kick the proverbial dead horse. And yet a year ago, the same financial pundits were tripping over each going gaga over India’s most beloved unicorn.

I was one of the early adopters of e-commerce and started using Flipkart for books and music when very few people in Bangalore knew about their services. Since 2014, I haven’t made a single transaction on Flipkart platform and have been using Amazon from kettles to lamp shades and much more, simply because there are better choices on Amazon. The problems at Flipkart that are being articulated by the pundits now are not new. Peter Lynch was one of the most successful fund managers at Fidelity Investments in the 1980s. He once bought 48 pairs of stockings and gave them to his female colleagues to try them out. Two weeks later they came back to told him that stockings were not comfortable. Peter Lynch decided not to invest in the company and invested in a competitor instead. That’s what fundamental research is. If anyone bothered to ask thousands of loyal Flipkarters in 2014 where they were shopping, it would have become abundantly clear to everyone what was going on in the minds of consumers. What is the relevance of Peter Lynch’s fundamental research in the world of hiring? Everything. You are IIT-ians. You should be able to connect the dots.

It seems that placement officers have a problem or two on hand. Let’s face it – They are not really bothered about the fact that some of the graduating students may not have an offer on hand at the time of graduation. What keeps them up at night are two problems – a) 100% placement track record is broken; b) wrath of the parents. They must be seen by the university administrators and parents that they are doing something about the problem created by the likes of Flipkart. They want the world to know that they are in control and demanding information from the startups (IMHO: Flipkart stopped being a startup long time ago). No startup will share information about its investors or divulge balance sheet details to have the privilege of campus recruitment at IITs, unless of course, it is really desperate. So, here is a piece of unsolicited advice to the “caring” Placement Officers – If a startup shares this kind of confidential information, please make sure that it is not invited for campus interviews.

I cannot recall meeting a placement officer after I completed my M Tech from IIT-D. We had to fend for ourselves and we did not do too shabbily on our own. To all the students who are impacted by the situation at Flipkart, I would like to tell you – a) Everything happens for a reason. It is just as well you know it now rather than getting fired six months later. Now, you can blame it on Flipkart, VCs who invested in it, financial pundits who were going gaga over Flipkart last year and your family who celebrated when you got the offer at Flipkart etc. However, if you were to get fired six months later, everyone would question your capabilities and ability to work hard. So, now is the time for celebration, because you are free to make better choices; b) Now that the Flipkart monster has been exorcised from your brain, it is time to dream big. Challenge yourself to come up with ideas to make this world a better place for everyone, think of the next generation of Flipkart that delivers healthcare or education or microfinance across the country with the same operational efficiency and offers a wide spectrum of choices to people seeking such services on a large scale. Or, take the opportunity to write to one of the many Bansals in the country to invest in your startup; and finally; c) always remember that IIT-ians are successful because of their own hard work, not because a placement officer who arranged some interviews for you.

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