Entrepreneurs who graduated out of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have built the fourth-largest number of Unicorns or privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion, according to an analysis by UK software firm Sage.

India, which has emerged as the world's third-largest startup hub, has seen IITians building 12 Unicorns, the fourth-highest number in the world -- next only to Stanford University, which tops the list with 51 Unicorns, Harvard (37) and the University of California (18). IITs' ranking on the list is higher than Massachusetts Indstitute of Technology (MIT), whose alumni have set up nine unicorns.

Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, co-founders of India's largest e-commerce firm Flipkart graduated from IIT Delhi, as also Rohit Bansal, co-founder of smaller rival Snapdeal. InMobi, the ad tech firm, which turned profitable last quarter, is founded by Naveen Tewari, Abhay Singhal and Amit Gupta, all from IIT Kanpur.

Bhavish Agarwal and Ankit Bhati, co-founders at Ola, the country's largest taxi aggregator graduated from IIT Mumbai.

IIT's rank among the best educational institutions in India after the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), but getting to the elite schools is considered among the toughest in the world with just one or two per cent of the 1.4 million students pass through the Joint entrance test to get into the institutions.

Students from IIT's also among the favoured by multinationals and large Indian companies over other colleges in jobs, which gives them a natural advantage to start on their own.

A 2014 study by Pitchbook Data, a US private equity and research firm had ranked IITs as fourth among top 50 universities globally, whose graduates were entrepreneurial. It said around 264 entrepreneurs founded 205 companies and had raised a total of $ 3.15 billion in venture capital and private equity funding. 

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