IIT Dropout Series: How Madhya Pradesh duo quit IIT-Kharagpur and founded Intugine

Nearly ten years ago, when startups and entrepreneurship were not the buzzwords, two young guys from Madhya Pradesh decided to write their own destiny. Indore boy Ayush Agrawal and Harshit Shrivastava, a resident of Bina, Madhya Pradesh, first met in Kota in 2009. Little did they know that they would eventually make some crucial decisions in their lives together.

After two years of preparing for the IIT entrance exam in Kota together, Harshit and Ayush both joined IIT Kharagpur in 2011 with AIR 1423 and AIR 2913 respectively. Harshit took the mechanical engineering dual degree while Ayush completed a five-year mathematics and computer science degree. training followed.

Harshit, 29, said by the end of the first year he was pretty clear that entrepreneurship was his way forward. “We started working on a wearable device in college itself and had early success building a prototype that was recognized on many startup platforms. It was an exciting time for wearable gesture technology and I felt it was high time that I dropped out of college to scale this up,” he recalls.

For Ayush, things were a little different. While his goal for getting into IIT was clear, he had no idea about the academics or the post-IIT career scenario.

In my first two years I clearly understood that software engineering was not my thing. Meanwhile, I joined the college’s organizing committee, where I met people from diverse backgrounds ranging from CEOs, HRs for university administrators. I realized I really got a kick out of being up front, talk to people. While I was still unsure how to turn this into a career option, my ‘aha moment’ came when I discovered entrepreneurship,” the 28-year-old said. Biharengineering.com.

As the duo developed Nimble, a wearable gesture recognition product, they began to feel the need to spend more time exploring the market. “We felt the need to pursue this full-time and be in the ecosystem to scale it up. Initially, we didn’t think of stopping because IIT Kharagpur had introduced a semester withdrawal program around the same time where student entrepreneurs take a sabbatical of a could take a few semesters to continue their startups,” said Harshit.

As a result, they got more involved with the startup and ended up missing their lectures, semester exams. That’s when they both finally decided to drop out in 2014.

Dropping out is still a very conventional path, Harshit said. “Ideally, there is a set path when a student joins IIT. Internship; receive an internship offer at the tender age of 22 with more than a decent package. Dropping out is received with a lot of skepticism all around us,he added.

Although Harshit’s parents supported them after the initial concerns, the decision to stop did not sit well with Ayush’s family.

“My parents were confused and wanted to understand what quitting really meant. They were not very supportive at first and thought it was just a hobby I was looking for. After a few years, when business got better, they finally understood why I quit, Ayush added.

After they quit, the duo started looking for use cases for wearable gesture recognition technology and then collaborated with four or five companies on various projects, most of which were related to logistics and supply chain.

While working with these companies, we found that the largest manufacturers and e-commerce companies have little or no visibility of trucks traveling in front of them. Unlike in the B2C space, where customers follow Swiggy deliverers minute by minute, there is no real-time tracking of trucks carrying multimillion-dollar products,” the duo said.

They then built a multimodal visibility platform for shipments across all modes of transport: road, rail, air and sea. Over the past four years, they have helped more than 100 companies, such as Philips, Bridgestone, Diageo, Flipkart, Mahindra Logistics and Instamart, to make their supply chains more visible and digital. Their company, Intugine, is currently valued at Rs 250 crore.

The IIT Kharagpur dropouts advise students to think before making the decision to drop out. “College is a great time to try different avenues, and get a sense of what each of these really feels like. Of course, if starting is your thing, you don’t have to give up right away. While you’re in college, let the idea brew and take off as far as you can. If the university starts to become a major bottleneck, don’t hesitate to call,” the duo said.

Sajal Jain
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