Dean of Resources and Alumni Office
Vol. 2, Issue 2, July 2021
Many alumni of IIT Kanpur are highly successful entrepreneurs. Their start-ups have grown into big businesses and attracted large international funding. The year 2020-21 saw some such companies started by our alumni reach unicorn status. This highly remarkable feat was achieved by five of our alumni.
Founded in 2014 by Mr. Abhiraj Bhal, Mr. Varun Khaitan and Mr. Raghav Chandra, Urban Company (formerly UrbanClap) is Asia’s largest home services company. The company offers home services such as cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, appliance repair, painting, and more through its mobile app and website. It operates in more than 35 cities in India (including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Surat, Vadodara and Visakhapatnam) and 5 international markets (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Singapore and Riyadh). Urban Company is building a fulfilment-led services platform to reimagine and organize the key verticals of the home services industry. At scale, this platform will enable 1 million+ service professionals to become micro-entrepreneurs and deliver high-quality services at home. Urban Company today is home to more than 40,000 trained professionals who earn a better livelihood through the platform. The company provides these micro-entrepreneurs with financing, insurance and product or consumables support.
Moglix, one of Asia’s largest and fastest-growing B2B commerce companies has entered the Unicorn club with investment from Falcon Edge Capital and Harvard Management Company (HMC). HMC has made its first ever direct investment in India by participating in the Series E round of Moglix. Its current investors Tiger Global, Sequoia and Venture Highway also participated in this round. Moglix provides procurement and supply chain solutions for the manufacturing sector with a tech-first approach. Moglix embarked on this journey 6 years back to disrupt the traditional manufacturing sector and transform procurement and supply chain through technology. Over the years, the company has grown to serve 500,000 small businesses and 3000 manufacturing plants. The company has always been capital efficient and probably one of the rare Unicorns to reach this milestone with a sustainable growth model. Moglix was founded in 2015 by the IIT Kanpur and ISB alumnus Rahul Garg. It has been a pioneer of disrupting B2B Commerce with technology. It provides digital procurement and supply chain solutions to more than 500,000 SMEs and 3000 manufacturing plants across India, Singapore, the UK and the UAE. Many manufacturing majors such as Hero Motocorp, Vedanta, Tatasteel, Unilever and PSUs such as Air India, NTPC and ONGC procure indirect material through its platform. It has a supply chain network of 16,000 suppliers, 40 warehouses and logistics providers globally. With 700,000 SKUs, its marketplace, moglix.com is the largest e-commerce platform in the industrial goods category in India. Moglix also has an award winning suite of SaaS products for contract management. Global FMCG Giant Unilever uses the platform for ~$19 Billion of material spend annually. Moglix recently launched Credlix, a supply chain financing platform for suppliers and manufacturers.
Pine Labs, founded in 1998 by Lokvir Kapoor, is a merchants payment solution that enables businesses to accept online and offline digital retail transactions. The company powers over 140,000 merchants, 3.5 lakh Points of Sale (PoS) terminals across 3,700 cities and towns in India and Malaysia. Its customers include Apple, Starbucks Corp, McDonald's Corp., among others. The company is now headed by Mr. Amrish Rau. The company serves prominent large, mid-sized and small merchants across Asia and the Middle East. Pine Labs’ cloud-based platform enables it to offer a wide range of payment acceptance and merchant commerce solutions, including enterprise automation systems such as inventory management and customer relationship management.
Pine Labs also has a stored value platform that enables merchants to issue, process, and distribute digital gift cards for corporate customers around the world. The company acquired Fave, a Kuala Lumpur-based payments and discovery platform, in April 2021. Pine Labs was looking to build a consumer-centric vertical for discounts and discovery in India and Southeast Asia with this acquisition. Over 6 million consumers across over 40,000 merchant establishments now have access to the Fave app. Pine Labs has raised over $1.2 billion to date, and counts Sequoia Capital, Temasek Holdings, Actis, PayPal and Mastercard, among others, as investors.
ShareChat, a Bangalore based social media and social networking service, was founded by Mr. Ankush Sachdeva, Mr. Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Mr. Farid Ahsan. Incorporated in 2015, the company has over 180 million monthly active users across 15 Indian languages. The company's application offers features that include private messaging, tagging and a personal messaging feature, enabling users to share videos, jokes, songs and other language based social content with other unknown users. Initially, ShareChat primarily worked as a content sharing platform, without any scope of users generating their own content. Later in the year 2016, ShareChat enabled user-generated content creation on its platform, allowing its users to share their own posters and creative content. It also introduced open tagging for users, which would allow anyone to create their own hashtags depending on the content.
In 2020, ShareChat raised $40 million from investors Dr. Pawan Munjal of Hero MotoCorp, Ajay Shridhar Shriram of DCM Shriram, Twitter, SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Ventures and India Quotient. By April 2021 ShareChat had raised $500 million from investors and was valued at over $2 billion. The founders of ShareChat were featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia 2018, for having been recognized for their work with language-first approach in the social media landscape.
Glance, co-founded in 2019 by Mr. Naveen Tewari, Mr. Abhay Singhal, Mohit Saxena, and Piyush Shah, is an artificial intelligence based software company headquartered in Bangalore, India. The company delivers personalized content to the lock screens of smartphones. Glance, a part of InMobi group, owns and operates the world’s first screen zero platform that uses artificial intelligence technology to deliver personalized, relevant, ad-free, and live content across different categories such as games, stories, and news on the lockscreen of the users’ devices in multiple languages such as, Hindi, English, Telugu, and Bahasa. In December 2020, Glance raised $145 million from Internet giant Google and investor, Mithril Capital, taking the company to unicorn status. Glance currently has 115 million daily active users who average 25 minutes on the app each day. The app operates only in the Android ecosystem and has partnered with leading device makers including Electronics Co., Xiaomi Corp., Oppo, and Vivo.
You retired as Chairman and CEO of Inner City Fund (ICF). You spent over 30 years with the company. What motivated you to stay with the company for so long and what were your major contributions toward the rise and success of ICF?
The work at ICF was always interesting. I worked with a variety of public and private sector clients on environment and energy issues. I developed strong and trusting relationships with our clients. ICF gave me increasing responsibility and therefore the nature of the job changed over the years. I did not have to look elsewhere for a ‘new’ job. It was available within ICF if I wanted a change. My contribution to ICF was to always ensure that the interests of the primary stakeholders of the firm - employees, clients, and shareholders - in that order - were clearly kept in mind as we grew. The firm has a strong set of values, it carefully chose its clients and it worked in certain domain areas. ICF is a specialist consulting firm and not a generalist one. It strives to always recruit the best talent that enables it to keep its edge and grow steadily with a diverse and expanding client base worldwide. I helped develop a clear strategy for the firm – stay focused on the industries and domain areas where the firm had clear analytical and domain knowledge, advise clients in these domains and be ready to implement the advice if the client desired to achieve the results.
ICF has long been associated with many social programs. Could you tell us more about it?
ICF works on environmental, climate change, energy, public health, housing, and disaster management issues. The solutions that the firm develops are focused on contributing to the public good. Therefore, the firm has been involved in developing and implementing social programs since its founding. Some examples include:
ICF adopted many green-practice initiatives and has been carbon neutral since 2006. Can you give us a few examples of these initiatives?
ICF employees have always believed that if the firm is advising organizations on sustainability it should also ‘walk the talk’. ICF has worked with its landlords to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings it occupies, sets up offices close to public transportation and reduce its travel footprint to the maximum extent, amongst other measures. To account for its residual emissions, ICF also buys high quality carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality.
What has been ICF’s USP?
Employees join ICF because it has a mission they like - to improve the quality of life worldwide. They want to work in the ICF domain areas. Clients hire the firm because of its domain expertise. ICF provides a community of practice for employees and clients in these areas. ICF is not all things to all people and has a very distinctive brand in its specialty areas.
How did working with ICF for over three decades shape you personally?
It has helped me understand that engendering trust in all interactions is key if you want to be successful.
What challenges did you face as an immigrant during your early career phase in the US? What motivated you to stay back?
I had no intention of being an immigrant when I moved to the US in 1982. After I graduated from IITK in 1976, I had an offer of a fellowship from Cornell University to do a Ph.D. in process control systems. I had a good GPA, or CPI, as we used to call it, but not nearly as good as some classmates. It was clear to me that I would make a better manager than a teacher. So, I decided that if I got an offer from IIM Ahmedabad I will go there. I did get that opportunity. I graduated IIMA in 1978. I then worked in India for 4 years in Delhi and Mumbai before I decided to get a degree from the US. The only reason I applied was because I was bored. My job paid well but was repetitive and opportunities in 1982 in India were limited. I applied for a master’s degree from the Technology and Policy Program at MIT, because I was intrigued by the interdisciplinary nature of the Program. ICF offered me a job while I was at MIT and I have been here since.
Had you not been in industry, what would you have been rather?
I would love to be an architect.
How would you sum up your life so far?
I would say, it's a work in progress.
What is your most favourite leisure activity?
I am Test match cricket watcher and if that is not available - reading.
Tell us about your childhood days.
My younger brother and I went to St Xavier’s High School in Delhi. Great school, brilliantly run by Jesuits. In high school I took ‘science’ while my brother opted for the humanities. Parents worked for the central government and were based in Delhi. I grew up around government housing in central Delhi. We spent summer vacations in Jaipur at my Mausi’s (Aunt) house, eating langdas and swimming in the Rajasthan University pool.
What role did your parents play in shaping your personality, especially your mother?
My mother made sure that we always knew that she was the most educated amongst us all so that kept us humble. She was the disciplinarian but always practiced non-interference in school and college affairs if the grades were good! Always told us to study what interested us. My father engendered our interest in arts, literature, and cricket. He built two institutions and was always keen on helping future generations. We had the best of all worlds – north Indian married to a south Indian, science and arts, and a commitment to community.
What are your fondest memories of IITK?
The incessant bull sessions.
If you could go back in time and meet your younger self in IITK, what would you tell him?
I would tell him these are amongst the best years of your life – enjoy them. Get a pilot’s license at the IITK airfield.
What extracurricular activities did you participate in while at IITK?
I was in the track and field team for all the inter-IITs- 100m, 200m, and triple jump. Captained the team in my last year. Also acted in plays for the IITK entry to the Cultural Festivals.
What role can alumni play in the image branding of IIT Kanpur?
Most alumni I have met have very fond memories of IITK. I am sure they say good things about the Institute. If IITK has a way of involving them, I am sure they will step up.
What message would you like to give to young IITK students who would like to emigrate to the US to either pursue higher studies or start a career?
Whatever you do, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Do what interests you. The 21st century is the Asian century, so the opportunities are likely to be in India rather than in the US.
What are your future plans?
To stay healthy!
Your message to IITK.
It is a great institution and has an important and significant role to play in India and the world’s future. We all must contribute to make it even better.
Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh Ji launched an AI & Data Science driven grievance management application developed at IIT Kanpur, intended to automatically summarize & utilize the gist of public grievances received on CPGRAMS pertaining to the Ministry of Defence. The application has been developed by Professors Shalabh, Nisheeth Srivastava and Piyush Rai of IIT Kanpur.
IIT Kanpur 'Makersclan' was been declared the Toycathon 2021 winner for their board game 'CheMystery' under the theme of "Learning, Education & Schooling". The team was led by Prof. Shatarupa T. Roy, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences & Design Programme, along with Abhinav Basak (PhD scholar, Design Programme) and Vivek Banra (MDes/2015).
IIT Kanpur emerged as the champion in the recently conducted Inter-IIT TechMeet 9.0 organized virtually by IIT Guwahati, becoming the only IIT to win 4 Tech Meets in total.
An MoU was signed between Prasar Bharati, India’s Public Service Broadcaster and IIT Kanpur to establish a Centre of Excellence for Media and Broadcasting Technologies at IIT Kanpur. Research projects, such as Next Generation Broadcast Technology Trial, Automatic Speech Recognition for Speech Subtitling, and Archival Content Retrieval through Audio & Text Query will be taken up by IIT Kanpur in these three areas leveraging funding provided by Prasar Bharati.
IIT Kanpur, and Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow, signed an MoU to advance innovation in accessible healthcare through indigenous solutions. It will lead to advanced healthcare systems in the form of advanced mobile vans for rural areas to Smart Kiosks for smart city framework. The innovations will include developing portable evaluating systems along with point-of-care testing and diagnostics.
SIIC, IIT Kanpur signed an MoU with the Department of Training and Employment, Uttar Pradesh, to train principals of Industrial Training Institutes across the state on new-age innovation technologies. Participants will be exposed to the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous world which now experiences amplified dynamism in the post-COVID era.
IIT Kanpur announced a new e -Masters programme for working professionals to enhance their skill sets & improve their employability. The eMasters shall be a completely online program with well-designed industry relevant course content designed and delivered by IIT Kanpur faculty. The four eMasters include programs in Cybersecurity, Communication Systems, Commodity Markets & Risk Management, and Power Sector Regulation, Economics & Management.
FICCI and IIT Kanpur will set up a Center of Excellence on Artificial Intelligence in Noida under the UPGovt Startup Policy 2020. The CoE will support 50 startups per year. IIT Kanpur will give the technological expertise & incubation support, FICCI India will provide industry tie-ups and business connect.
Technithon International Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company with a specialization in cutting-edge sulf(on)ation processes & environmental technologies, has collaborated with Technopark@iitk as its esteemed member to engage with IIT Kanpur on R&D collaborations. Mr Sanjay Trivedi, Founder and Chairman, Trivedi Group of companies, is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur of 1975 batch.
IIT Kanpur will launch 4-year BS & 5-year BS-MS programs in “Statistics and Data Science” from the coming academic year 2021-22. The admissions to the programs will be through JEE (Advanced). Students undergoing this program will be exposed to various types of structured and unstructured data with applications. It will help them build flourishing careers in industry and the new entrepreneurial India, and pursue higher studies as well.
Department of Electrical Engineering, won the 2021 IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS) Outstanding Educator/Mentor Award for his outstanding contributions to education & mentorship of students & young engineers within the field of interest of IEEE Industry Applications Society.
Department of Civil Engineering, was appointed as an honorary member of the WHO Global Air Pollution & Health - Technical Advisory Group (GAPH-TAG).
Department of Material Science & Engineering, Vivek Verma, Aparna Tripathi & Thiruvenkatam Venkateswaran were awarded the 2020 Gordon E. Pike Prize for the JMR Paper, recognizing excellence in advancing materials knowledge through written scholarship.
Department of Chemical Engineering, was selected for the Academy Excellence Award of DRDO.The award is given to either a team or academician of an institute for technology excellence of innovative nature related to defence R & D that may have a multiplier effect.
Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw ji (MT/IME/1994) was appointed as the Union Minister of Railways and Minister of Electronics, IT and Communication.
Prof. Jainendra K. Jain (MSC2/PHY/1981) was inducted as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He currently serves as the Evan Pugh University Professor and Erwin W. Mueller Professor at the Department of Physics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA.
Prof. Arup Chakraborty (BT/CHE/1983) was named the Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. He is a chemical engineer by training, has wide-ranging research interests that span biology, chemistry, and physics.
Prof. Sanjay Ranka (BT/CSE/1985) was promoted to Distinguished Professor at the University of Florida in the Department of Computer Information Science and Engineering. He specializes in the field of Parallel and Distributed Computing, Data Mining, and Machine Learning.
Ms. Vartika Shukla (BT/CHE/1988) took charge as the Chairman & Managing Director at Engineers India Limited. She is the first woman CMD of EIL, and has been associated with the company for about 32 years.
Prof. Thirumalai Venkatesan (MSC2/PHY/1971) was elected as the Fellow of the Royal Society, UK. He is the Director at the Center for Quantum Research and Technology and Professor of Physics and ECE, University of Oklahoma, and also an Affiliate Scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Gaithersburg, United States.
Prof. Kamesh Subbarao (BT/AE/1993) was elected as the American Astronautical Society Fellow 2020. He is a Professor and Director of the Aerospace Systems Laboratory (ASL) in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington, USA.
Mr. Pankaj Agarwal (BT/EE/2004), got featured in Fortune India 40 Under 40, 2021. He is the Founder and CEO, TagHive Inc. Founded in 2017, TagHive is a Samsung-funded education technology company with headquarters in South Korea and offices in India.
Mr. Satya Gupta (BT/CHE/1982) was honored with the CTO of the Year Award 2021. Mr. Gupta is the Founder and CTO of Virsec Systems. He is a technology leader who holds more than 40 patents in complex firmware architecture with products deployed to hundreds of thousands of users.
Mr. Aan S. Chauhan (BT/EE/1995) got appointed as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Mindtree. He has over 26 years experience in building world-class products, platforms, services and high-performance teams across diverse industry sectors such as banking and financial services, capital markets, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare, ecommerce, retail and technology.
Mr. Rajinder (Raj) Singh (BT/ME/1983) was appointed as the Chief Risk Officer at NewRez LLC. His career background includes leading risk management teams at Genworth, Citigroup, GM Financial, and GE Capital.
Prof. Rajiv K. Varma
1988) was elected as Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, 2021. He serves as a Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at The University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Mr. Asutosh Padhi (BT/ME/1993) became the Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company, North America. He has helped high-performing, iconic industrial companies with their functional, business unit, and enterprise transformations, drawing on his strategic, organizational, and operations expertise.
Dr. Snigdha Chaturvedi (BT/CSE/2009) received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests are in the natural language understanding with a focus on understanding narratives, and social aspects of natural language.
Dr. Eshan Chattopadhyay (BT/CSE/2011) got selected for the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Awards. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University, USA. He works in the area of computer theoretical science.
Dr. Pravesh K Kothari (BT/EE/2010) got selected for the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program Award. He is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
Mr. Kartik Mani (BT/ME/1992), got appointed as the Head of Asia Consumer Bank by Citi. He holds strategic and operational management responsibility for Citibank's 18 consumer banking businesses across 17 markets.
Co-founders of Noccarc Robotics, Mr. Nikhil Kurele and Mr. Harshit Rathore, won the Technology Development Board, Government of India National Award 2021 for technology startup by IndiaDST. Noccarc won the award for its indigenous ICU ventilator, Noccarc V310 and Noccarc H210, which was developed during the first wave of COVID19.
Mr. Dilsher Malhi (BT/CHE/2017) Co-founder and CEO, and Mr. Siddhant Saurabh (BT/CSE/2016), Co-Founder & CTO of Zupee, got featured amongst young tech entrepreneurs in the coveted Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia ', 2021 list, in the Consumer Technology category. They founded Zupee in 2018 with the aim to engage, empower and entertain through tech-led innovations in gaming and gamification.
Mr. Dheeraj Mekala (BT/CSE/2017) was awarded UCSD CSE MS Student Achievement for Excellence in Research, 2021. He is an MS student majoring in Computer Science at the University of California, San Diego.
Mr. Prithvi Raj (M.Des/2016) and his team (Team Aakaar 15321) won the Toycathon 2021 URA Career Cards category. It is a career awareness card game for the children of India (age group 8 - 13). He is a Lead UX Designer at Trimble, Chennai, India.
Covid-19 Relief Fund was created to provide medical financial support to IITK students, their families, and IITK staff dealing with heavy medical expenses related to during and post Covid-19 treatment. This Fund gave the much needed financial assistance to the beneficiaries that helped them pay their medical bills of medications, injections, oxygen cylinders, ICU beds, etc. The monetary aid provided to 22 applicants was also in the form of moral support who were going through a severe financial crisis with rising medical bills.
More than 850 donors from across India, US and the rest of the world supported this campaign with a contribution of INR 1.49 crore in a very short span of time. Our beneficiaries included alumni, non-alumni, and IIT Kanpur campus community.
We share with you one of the stories of our student who was provided financial assistance. Emayavarman S, a PhD student from the Department of Aerospace and Engineering, IITK, got financial help from this fund as his family was badly infected with the Coronavirus -19 during the second wave in April 2021. His father, who suffered severe symptoms, had to be hospitalized in Trichy, India, and with the rising medical bills that included cost of an ICU bed, oxygen cylinders, medications, etc., Emayaarman's family was soon in a deep financial crisis. Unfortunately, he lost his father on the fifth day of hospitalization, and huge medical bills had to be paid. Emayavarman reached out to IIT Kanpur for assistance and an amount of Rs. 1.5 lacs was given to him to clear his medical dues. Emayavarman's loss is irreparable and the emotional trauma of going through the harrowing experience of trying to save his father’s life with dwindling finances at home, is certainly indescribable. Nonetheless, he expresses his gratitude to IIT Kanpur for providing him monetary aid when he needed it the most.
It is to keep one's mental faculties functional and fit, that one looks for suitable
pastimes. Ones that provide a pleasant mental jog while helping discover interesting
knowledge. Setting cryptic crossword clues and solving cryptic crosswords is one such
pastime for me.
A thank you to IITK DoRA Office for the opportunity to set this cryptic crossword.
My cluing style is Libertarian, so a request to Ximeneans having a heady go at this
crossword to bear with me. However, I don't dream the clues up in my indolent
absentmindedness. I do keep "fairness to the solver" as a priority. Also this is not a
professional effort and there is occasional use of non-standard phrases, words and
acronyms. So please excuse that. Further clues marked * are IITK (mostly of the '80s)
oriented, in terms of either the wording of the clue or the answer. They may not work for
a general audience.
Thank you to Gajendra Singh (82073) for vetting the grid and giving suggestions.
I hope this puzzle succeeds in transporting the solver to idyllic IITK days.
- DT (82243)