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Over 67% of Indian unicorn startup founders have engineering backgrounds, not MBAs, says Report

Jaya Vishwakarma
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Bengaluru cant

Guess the background of India's unicorn founders. While you might expect a variety of academic histories, recent analysis reveals a surprising trend among these elite entrepreneurs.

Over 67% of Indian unicorn startup founders have engineering backgrounds, according to an analysis by YNOS Venture Engine, an organization incubated at IIT-Madras.

Two years ago, nearly 85% of the founders in this elite startup club, each valued at over $1 billion, were engineers. As the number of unicorns has increased to 114 in 2023 from 100 in 2022, the diversity among founders and co-founders has also grown.

Currently, of the 206 co-founders and founders of unicorn ventures, there is a greater representation from those with business, economics, architecture, hotel management, and fashion technology backgrounds.


Non-engineers, including graduates of business, commerce, and economics, now make up 9% of this group, while women constitute only about 7.2%. Notably, India has over 300,000 registered startups.

Rajesh Sawhney, founder of GSF Accelerator, notes, "Today, there is more diversity among startup founders compared to a decade ago, with sectors like D2C and deep tech seeing a wider variety of educational backgrounds and gender. Engineers still maintain an edge due to their ability to iterate quickly and their high confidence and risk-taking capabilities."

Among these engineers, 60% are from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), with 7% having graduated from Delhi Technology University and another 6% from the Birla Institute of Technology.

Thillai Rajan, a professor in the Department of Management Studies at IIT Madras and founder of YNOS, highlights that entrepreneurs are increasingly recognizing the importance of diverse skills in founding teams and the improved ability to find co-founders with complementary skills over time.