Incubator or B-School?

Came across this piece of news recently about JGI Ventures floating a Rs 500 Cr startup fund. JGI Ventures is a part of the Bangalore based education group Jain Group of Institutions. The ‘eye catching’ part of the news – however – is not that. It is what appears in the second paragraph –

Budding entrepreneurs would be able to undertake a 30-month postgraduate course for a fee of Rs.30 lakh under JGI iDEA, or Incubating and Developing Entrepreneurial Ability.

This made me curious and I went through the programme brochure. They have chalked out a comprehensive 30 month course which covers subjects across domains (Finance, Marketing, IT etc) – and also includes some ‘International Exposure’ to make your business plan ‘global’.
Now, at first sight, it sounds more like a B School programme (and a damn expensive B School programme at that!). Only difference is that a B-School programme typically ends with Campus Placements. This won’t.
And if it sounds like a typical incubator, then the fact that there is a fees of Rs. 30 lakhs makes it ‘different’. Moreover, one need not even have a business idea in the head to be a part of the programme. As the brochure reads –

Having a pre-conceived business idea will be a part of this process but will not be a mandatory criteria for selection. While aptitude is important, the primary focus of the selection process is to assess your attitude and passion to become an entrepreneur

In fact, this is in stark contrast to PayPal Co-Founder and Facebook early investorPeter Thiel‘s 20 Under 20 programme where he wants to "invest upto $100,000" in 20 Under 20 kids and "teach them about entrepreneurship".
Is this just an attempt at a new B-School trying to position itself differently (with a sweetener of a Rs 500 Cr startup fund at the end of the course replacing the traditional campus placements). And if one thinks of it as an incubator, then doesn’t the huge fees upfront remove the incentives for the ‘mentor’ to really mentor like an investor?
Moreover, the well chalked out structure of the program – while it looks impressive on a brochure – might not be what is required. For example, not everyone would really require a visit to seven different countries to crystallize a business plan. So at least there could have been an option to pick and chose parts of the course (and thus also cut down on the course expenses).
Certainly there are lots of aspects that pique curiosity. But still, 30 lakhs?

[Guest article by Mandar Kulkarni/Reproduced from his blog]

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