To Desi Student Entrepreneurs: Here’s Why Romanticizing Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg Is Harmful For You!

Posted on February 25, 2014 in Education, Entrepreneurship, Staff Picks

By Adhitya Iyer:

Dear Indian fans of Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Mark Zuckerberg,

Firstly, before I progress with my rant, let me share your admiration for the gentlemen I mention above. After all, it is difficult to resist regard for anyone who has the rarest claim of being in the top 1% of their profession, right?

This letter is a reaction to the romance that you profess and regularly enjoy by sharing videos that suggest young blokes like me ‘Not Think’, ‘Drop out’, ‘Just do’ and the various ‘Do what you love’ quotes that you vehemently share as Facebook updates before you count likes, shut your device and conveniently go to bed. Not to forget the desktop wallpapers.

Let me also introduce myself and establish some relevance to the reader. I, like many fellow Indians who grew up in the 90’s when the economy had historically been liberalized, would like to consider myself an ambitious and enterprising young bloke. Do check my bio for more on me but I am basically like most of you still trying to figure things out, which probably makes it relevant we share thoughts?

So, let’s consider a few things that you may suggest I do:

Drop-out of college

Gates and Zuckerberg were Harvard drop-outs. Harvard. Face it, being a Saraswati Vidyapeeth Mahalay or a Dwarkadas Jamnabhai Sanghvi drop-out isn’t half as cool. In India, best case, you’d want to be an IIT drop-out but you know, when you have spent 2 years preparing in Rajasthan and regretted making that otherwise avoidable trip to the washroom just so you could get into IIT, you’d want to stick around.

Quoting from this insightful article:

“There are 34 million Americans over 25 with some college credits but no diploma. Nearly as large as the state of California, this group is 71 percent more likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to default on student loans. Far from being millionaires, they earn 32 percent less than college graduates, on average”

Dropping out is easy. The real glory is in clearing your degree, no?



Do not listen to your parents/elders. They just don’t make sense.

Remember, your parents brought you up without any guaranteed RoI. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you know that means a lot. If they resist you, they probably do it out of care and genuine concern.

In the west, parents stop looking after their kids once they turn 18. Your parents and mine do not stop till they die.

Also note, Bill Gates’ father was a prominent lawyer. Not sure what Zuckerberg’s father did but hey, he could afford his son a degree at Harvard.

Don’t know about your folks but my dad had once legendarily filled petrol worth 50 bucks into my Santro. I don’t recollect seeing that pump attendant ever again.


Care Less

Your life is not a Bollywood movie. Fortunately or unfortunately, duties, logic and sense do apply to your living.

Unlike in Amreeka, Indian weddings for some inexplicable reason, are supposed to follow the KSO (Karan Johar film Shaadi Organization) 9001 standard for conducting a wedding. Also, if you are a girl or have one in the family, don’t forget your parents are shedding tears on your Vidaai primarily because it starts sinking in that they nonchalantly ended up spending 98.3% of their savings on KSO 9001 standard for conducting your wedding. So yes, KSO 9001 standard for conducting a wedding. You may want to consider this and other obligations to your family.

There are practical realities in your life.

Don’t Think

With the start-up failure rate as high as this, the last thing you’d want to do is not think. More importantly, why would you not want to do something that is the solely differentiates you from an animal?


Does it mean, as an Indian, you cannot become an entrepreneur? Of course, you can! Just that, in a country where the spoken language changes every few kilometers, it is difficult to apply standard guidelines to everyone, no?

For any entrepreneur, there can of course, be no substitute to actually doing things but then the ‘When’ and ‘How’ can be figured by applying some subjective thinking and not over some romantic talks we watch over Zuckerberg’s venture or otherwise.

Next time you start thinking like an MTV Roadies contestant, do consider having a Plan B because you know ironically, the companies Gates, Jobs and Zuckerberg founded, don’t hire drop-outs.