Out of 34 such people listed on Wiki, 6 are Indian, and others are mostly Americans.
Let’s take Indians first. Gautam Adani worked as a diamond sorter for 2 years and then set up his own diamond brokerage business. Note it was a brokerage business.
And his father had a textile business. Micky Jagtiani drove a taxi in London, then went to a family shop in Bahrain and finally to Dubai, diversifying his family’s business.
Shahid Balwa entered his father’s hotel business and then later partnered with another college dropout billionaire Vinod Goenka for a real-estate business.
Now some Americans. Bill Gates had started finding bugs in operating systems while in school. At age 17, he had a venture with Allen called Traf-O-Data.
Mark Zuckerberg built a music player called the Synapse Media Player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user’s listening habits while in high school. Later, Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase Synapse and recruit Zuckerberg, but he refused.
How Your Situation is (Most likely-ish) Different
If you note the Indian case, they had family-wealth-and-business backup and developed “non-cool core” type of businesses like real-estate, brokerage, etc. Some of them made billions in Mid-east like Dubai or Oman.
For the Americans, you should note that they had started much earlier (Indians may have started too – but I couldn’t find it on Wiki). Then it is much easier to get VC funding in the US. And very important to note – they had started something innovative and developed ideas that were different – this helped them with funding and easy marketing.
I would advise you not to take much inspiration from American dropouts. The situation is very different here in the US – you have the government social security to fall onto in the worst case – you won’t die out of hunger.
In India, you would probably not like to drive a taxi or work at Mcdonald’s to earn your bread and butter (BTW, I hate this social structure). And I don’t know about your family wealth. Also, VC funding is hard to get.
Movies, Books and Media — The Uncool Reality
You must have watched The Social Network, the movie on Facebook. Do they show what hard work had Mark done in middle and high school? You would find so many articles, movies, etc., that would how cool it is to drop out. But they won’t show you the “uncool” reality – the struggle, time devoted, luck, and so many different factors.
Remember, movies and real life are very different worlds. There will be no spiderman, batman or superman to catch you if you fall in real life. You would be shocked to see the real world when you step out of IIT.
Talking of Innovation and Future Plans
Given that investment is not very high, your idea must be really cool to make money in Computer Science because anyone can start his business. Have you thought of starting a company? What would it do, and what kind of users it would target? I don’t want to be rude, but many people nowadays work in web development. As a matter of fact, this is one of the common areas where non-CS students enter into.
If you consider Facebook, they first launched it in their university and slowly expanded. So if you are not ready yet, I would say that it would take at least a couple of years to think of an idea and/or start on a small scale. And so you can stay in IIT and also take the valuable degree while working. 🙂
It is easier to get funding if you use the IIT tag.
As you said that people usually study during exams, so that should be helpful to you, right? This means you have all the time in the world to work on your passion and startup while using the cheapest accommodation and food possible in the city. You have free internet, access to devices, software on LAN (wink) and so on. Why don’t you utilize the IIT resources while completing your degree?
One of my juniors, Abhishek Gupta has opened a great startup called Zumbl. He took advantage of a semester-drop policy to go to Canada and work with business people. Then he also found interns and employees from IIT-D. And he is doing amazing while also working towards degree completion.
So, you can use IIT to your advantage – but only if you decide to!
The Final Advice — Treat Everything Above as Bullshit
All the points mentioned above are my attempt to show you the reality, which is very different from what we think or see on TV. I do not want to discourage or demotivate you. You may want to try to leverage IIT as much as possible. It would take a lot of guts, courage, perseverance, patience, focus, and time to really drop out and be successful in business, but you are your true judge.