If you aspire to create a billion-dollar business in India, one of the IITs is your best bet. Sage, a UK-based accounting and payroll company, stated this in a research released on Friday.

In a study that lists universities that have produced the most unicorn founders, India's premier institution chain, the Indian Institute of Technology, bagged the fourth spot. US-based Stanford University claimed the top rank with 51 unicorn founders followed by Harvard University with 37. University of California comes in third with 18 unicorn founders and IIT follows with 12.

Unicorns are start-ups with valuations of more than a billion dollars. India is home to 10 unicorn companies, making them the poster boys of the country's start-up ecosystem. From e-commerce giants Flipkart, Snapdeal and ShopClues to Ola, Zomato, Quickr and Paytm, from InMobi, to Hike and Mu Sigma, these startups have grabbed spots in the elite club and almost all of the founders have had stints at one of the IITs. Within the various IITs, it is Delhi that produ ced the maximum unicorn founders. Sachin and Binny Bansal of Flipkart, Sanjay Sethi of ShopClues, Zomato founders Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah, Snapdeal's Rohit Bansal and Quikr's Pranay Chulet and Jiby Thomas (now founder of Webbutterjam Digital) are all products of IIT Delhi. Ola's founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati went to IIT Mumbai.

Inmobi's founders Naveen Tiwari, Abhay Singhal, Amit Gupta studied at IIT Kanpur, while their co-founder Mohit Saxena went to IIT Roorkee.“Good students and faculty is a given with IITs. What is probably the differentiator with IIT Delhi is the institute's culture that has been cultivated over decades. They are more connected to society and have a deep awareness of its problems. Hence, they are able to look for solutions and become entrepreneurs,“ said professor V Ramgopal Rao, director, IIT Delhi, who is an alumnus of IIT Bombay .

Industry experts say that while earlier it was the rigour of the entrance exams and the competitive culture within the IITs that led to creation of such companies, over the last 5-7 years, there has been a structured effort to foster unicorns.

“Over the last 5-7 years, each of the IITs has made significant strides in creating the right ambience to promote entrepreneurs. From bringing in seasoned alumni to assist start-ups, to encouraging students and alumni to take the entrepreneurial plunge, setting up mentoring clinics and offering assistance of professors, a disciplined effort has been made to create the right structures to foster start-ups and their founders,“ said Suresh Kalpathi of Kalpathi Investments, alumnus of IIT Madras who is involved with Pan IIT Alumni Association, a volunteer driven organisation that brings together IIT alumni on a single platform.

According to the study, for over 60% of the founders, the current unicorn was the only company they had ever built. However, indicating that experience pays, the research said those who founded more than one company have, on average, a 34.5% higher valuation than those who founded just one company ($4.29bn vs. $5.88bn).In terms of nations home to the most number of unicorns, US tops the list with 144 unicorns followed by China with 47. India grabs the third spot with 10.