Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify the entrepreneurial intention (EI) among nascent entrepreneurs in the Indian context by using Shapero’s theory of entrepreneurial event as the research framework. Design/methodology/approach: A 34-item questionnaire was responded to 250 nascent entrepreneurs who are engaged in executing the new business idea or creating new ventures and enroled in the universities in India. The questions measured perceived desirability, perceived feasibility, entrepreneurial educational background, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, perceived social pressure and previous work experience in entrepreneurial activities towards entrepreneurship intention. The data were collected by employing a systematic random sampling method. The sample represents 174 male and 76 female nascent entrepreneurs belonging to various disciplines. Structural equation modelling has been used for data analysis. Findings: The results show that the proposed model in the present study explains 51 per cent of the variance, explaining the entrepreneurship intention. Entrepreneurial self-efficacy was found to be the strongest predictor of EI (β=0.397 at p<0.001) followed by previous experience in entrepreneurial activities (β=0.285 at p<0.001). Research limitations/implications: More than limitation this research study adds to the existing literature of the EI by using a different set of the sample. Mostly EI studies used student sample to measure intentions. Kolvereid and Isaksen used a sample of entrepreneurs to measure EI and achieved very different results. Therefore, this research study extends the work of Kolvereid and Isaksen by using a sample of nascent social entrepreneurs. Practical implications: The finding of this research study will facilitate policy makers and educators to promote entrepreneurial activities at the university level. Based on the results and findings of the study, the educators may improve upon the support system to help and motivate students to opt for social entrepreneurship as their career choice. Originality/value: Ajzen (1988) emphasised that the relative significance of the antecedents of intention will vary depending on which stage of intention is under scrutiny. This is one of its kinds of research study that used a sample of nascent entrepreneurs in the Indian context. Findings of this research will be helpful in predicting how the intention process of nascent entrepreneurs works especially in developing countries. © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.