From Classroom To Boardroom: How Educational Institutions Nurture Budding Entrepreneurs

With the country having emerged as the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, the prospects for aspiring entrepreneurs in the country have never been brighter. Let us dive into how educational institutions serve as powerful enablers for their dreams.

Kirti Kabra
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There’s a popular perception that successful entrepreneurs tend to be ‘bad students’ or college dropouts. While there are certainly numerous examples of entrepreneurs with such backgrounds, it is far from a universal truism. The fact is that institutions of higher learning have played a key role in nurturing entrepreneurial talent and shaping the lives of many successful businesspeople. 


With India having emerged as the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, the prospects for aspiring entrepreneurs in the country have never been brighter. Let us dive into how educational institutions serve as powerful enablers for their dreams.

Instilling a propensity for learning

Being a successful entrepreneur requires you to, first and foremost, be a lifelong learner. Business leaders need to constantly learn and evolve as they scale up their ventures amidst a dynamic market environment. This is particularly true in the early stages of a business when a founder must don multiple hats, but it also applies to leaders of large-scale, even global, enterprises. 

While “life is the best teacher”, as the old adage goes, formal education does play a significant role in shaping individuals into expert learners. The academic rigour of attending classes, studying course materials, and completing assignments within deadlines hones an individual’s discipline, work ethic and learning skills. Students become accustomed to learning about multiple subjects at the same time, and efficiently absorbing the information that they need from it – an immensely valuable ability for an entrepreneur to possess.

Teaching prioritisation

An entrepreneur needs to make the optimal use of limited time and resources. This makes prioritisation a key entrepreneurial skill. It’s essential for an effective business leader to be able to prioritise the most important tasks, meetings, events or other commitments, as well as the projects or actions that will add the highest value to the venture. 


Student life instils prioritisation skills in individuals, as it forces individuals to juggle a packed academic schedule, extracurricular activities and other campus pursuits – teaching them to identify which tasks/commitments need the most focus and attention at the moment. Knowing how to make the choice to prioritise one assignment over another in terms of allocating time can one day prepare an entrepreneur to make the harsh but necessary decision to kill a resource-intensive project in favour of other initiatives.

Building communication skills

Written and verbal communication are critical skills for an entrepreneur. The ability to present your work to an audience is particularly important in business – from pitching to potential investors to presenting strategic plans to a board of directors.

Educational institutions contribute significantly to honing an individual’s communication skills. Examinations, assignments and oral presentations compel students to work on their written and verbal communication. Extra-curricular activities and pursuits, such as public-speaking courses, dramatics or involvement in a student council, also shape students into powerful communicators. Frequent opportunities to present their views and their work provide students with valuable practice in the art of presentation, which will serve them well in their entrepreneurial careers.

Access to resources and professional networks

Institutions of higher learning are often home to innovative research and facilities that can prove to be a valuable resource for an aspiring student entrepreneur. Indeed, many institutions run initiatives such as incubators or accelerator programs that empower students to leverage campus resources to develop and grow their start-ups.


Another great resource budding entrepreneurs gain access to at educational institutions is their fellow students. Batchmates form a robust talent pool that entrepreneurs can tap into while looking for business partners or team members. 

More broadly, educational institutions often serve as the starting point for entrepreneurs' professional networks – enabling them to come into contact with influential faculty, alumni, business leaders or industry experts who can someday add significant value to their ventures as investors, mentors or partners.

Unleashing the Power of Education for Entrepreneurship

It’s fair to consider higher education, particularly management education, to be somewhat of a double-edged sword when it comes to nurturing entrepreneurship. After all, the lucrative placement opportunities offered by educational institutions provide a ‘safe-haven’ with a clear career path to talented students, nipping many entrepreneurial dreams in the bud. 

However, with the growing wave of successful startups in the country, entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming a viable career option for many young Indians. In addition to the many ways educational institutions help build valuable skills in aspiring entrepreneurs, they can proactively nurture a startup culture by incorporating entrepreneurial skills into their curricula to a greater degree, facilitating connections between successful entrepreneurs and students, and encouraging entrepreneurship on campus. By producing job creators, rather than just job seekers, educational institutions will make a further invaluable contribution to the nation’s economic growth.

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