Indian-American’s gift establishes Chicago program for launching businesses

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Rattan Khosa, 1979 graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, donated $5 million to his alma mater for entrepreneurial programs for students, the University announced March 6, 2018. (Photo: uchicago.edu)

Aspiring entrepreneurial students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business will benefit from a $5 million gift from Chicago Booth alumnus Rattan L. Khosa, a 1979 graduate who is the founder, president, and CEO of the company Amsysco Inc.

Khosa’s $5 million gift will establish the Rattan L. Khosa Student Entrepreneurs Program at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the University of Chicago announced March 6.

The Indian-American businessman came to the U.S. with a few dollars in his pocket.

“The day I wrote the check for this new program, I sat down, closed my eyes, and thought about my first day in this country and how little I had,” Khosa is quoted saying in the press release. “I’m extremely humbled and equally grateful to be able to give back and help support the next generation of Booth entrepreneurs,” he added.

The four components of the program included:

The Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize for the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge: The majority of the total gift will be used to endow the first place award for the nationally-ranked annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71 New Venture Challenge. For 2018, the winning team or individual will be awarded at least $150,000; in subsequent years, that will increase to approximately $200,000, which is among the largest prizes awarded in a business school competition.

The Rattan L. Khosa Entrepreneurial Fellowships, awarded to two graduating entrepreneurs who are dedicated to building their ventures full-time. The fellowships, part of the overall Polsky Founders’ Fund Fellowship program, will provide a one year stipend, awarded quarterly. The fellowship will also include one-on-one mentoring, which Khosa views as central to his role.

“When more than 80 percent of companies fail within the first year – even those with ample funding – it’s clear that there is much more to a start-up’s success than just money,” Khosa is quoted saying in the press release. “I don’t simply want to provide the money for this new program; I plan to serve as a thought leader, mentor and guide for these aspiring entrepreneurs, so that my years of experience, my struggles and my successes may serve as an additional resource to help them succeed,” Khosa added.

The Rattan L. Khosa Entrepreneurial Interns: Three students will receive financial support to work for either a start-up company or on their own start-up, within the Polsky Center Entrepreneurial Internship Program.

The Rattan L. Khosa “Against All Odds” Student Award: This annual prize will be awarded to a graduating student who has overcome significant hurdles to launch his or her business. Entrepreneurship faculty and staff will nominate candidates.

“Starting a business from scratch is like jumping off a cliff in the middle of the night while blindfolded, hoping that there is a safety net down below,” Khosa said. “I know from personal experience that everyone needs help at some point in their lives. No one has succeeded on their own,” Khosa said.

Khosa started AMSYSCO in 1981 from the basement of his home that he shared with his wife and young son, with lifetime savings of $44,000 and no other financing, the press release revealed. Today, his company is housed in a 55,000 square foot facility and is a highly profitable company that provides post-tensioning systems on commercial structures, capturing some 65% market share.

“Entrepreneurship is now the number one concentration at Chicago Booth, and the Rattan L. Khosa Student Entrepreneurs Program will support our most promising entrepreneurial students,” Madhav Rajan, Booth Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting, is quoted saying.

Khosa is on the advisory board of the Polsky Center and the Polsky Council. He has also provided financial support in a variety of ways for over a decade.