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Fellow to Founder: Coming a Full Circle

Mahesh Jakhotia was part of the first batch of the Young India Fellowship. An engineer turned entrepreneur, Mahesh is the second alumnus to join the Ashoka Founder community

Mahesh Jakhotia, a banker and venture capitalist turned entrepreneur, embodies the transformative power of education and mentorship. His journey started with an engineering degree from BITS Pilani, followed by joining the first batch of the Young India Fellowship (YIF) at Ashoka University.

Joining YIF was a significant leap of faith for Mahesh. At that time, Ashoka resembled a startup in its early stages, where trust in the people and their vision was paramount. The program was backed by influential figures in India’s economic and social landscape, including the founders of Infoedge, MakeMyTrip, the Dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB), and over 50 other prominent founders. The multidisciplinary, liberal arts approach of YIF, distinct from traditional business or engineering schools, further convinced him. The decision was also influenced by the fact that many of his batchmates had foregone significant opportunities to join the Fellowship.

After completing the Fellowship in 2012, Mahesh began his career in investment banking at Avendus Capital, where he was involved in VC/PE fundraising totaling about USD 1 billion for leading Indian tech companies. He also worked with Transit Capital, a VC fund that invested in companies like Ixigo, Truecaller, Healthifyme, Scandid, Zapr, and Transerv.

Transitioning from venture capital and banking, Mahesh took on an operational role as the founding member for Revolt Motors, India’s first electric motorcycle by Micromax founder Rahul Sharma and expanded it across more than 20 towns and cities. He was also India head for Asia Innovations Group, a Chinese content provider. Under his leadership, the company became India’s second most monetized content app in 2018.

In 2019, Mahesh founded Bijak, a leading Agri-Tech company in India. Bijak operates in over 28 states and 1500 regions and has raised approximately INR 250 crore from global investors such as Bertelsmann (BII), RTP Global, Sequoia Capital, Omnivore Partners, and Omidyar Network. Currently, he is venturing into new endeavors.

Mahesh attributes his success to three key lessons he learned at YIF and Ashoka: righteousness, knowledge acquisition, and empathy development. He views these pillars as essential for handling challenging situations in any business environment. Mahesh emphasized that empathy, in particular, enabled him to understand people, persuade them, and motivate them to reach their full potential. In conclusion, he highlighted that both YIF and Ashoka equip individuals with skills that can’t be quantified.

Reflecting on his journey, Mahesh expresses deep gratitude towards Ashoka University. He believes the University has significantly improved his life trajectory. Returning to Ashoka as a Founder, for Mahesh, is a way to help others gain the same benefits he did. For him, it’s not just about giving back, but also witnessing the joy of others flourishing.

He encourages fellow founders and alumni to engage more closely with the university, through their time, resources, or presence. As a pioneer of the Young India Fellowship, Mahesh hopes to see more alumni join Ashoka as founders or contribute in other ways. This reinforces the legacy of an institution that has played a key role in their lives.

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