For the first time in India, it is possible to build businesses with ideas. No longer does one need government licences, bank loans or inheritances. So far, most of the success stories of idea-driven Indian entrepreneurship have been outside India. This will change, and 2001 will be the year which will see the start of this. Indians tasted a flavour (albeit a bitter one) of entrepreneurship with the dotcom boom earlier in 2000. Once people are out on their own, success and failure are but two sides of the same coin. Out of these failures will emerge the success and the inspirations for tomorrow. The new generation of Indian entrepreneurs who begin life with a dream in their eyes and little in their pockets is here to stay.
In retrospect, so many people setting up portals was perhaps not the best way to utilise our talent and resources. The market was just not there. But look at it in another way: so many people have now tasted blood – they want to be on their own giving up the security of a job, they want the freedom to make things happen, driven by a passion to change the world. This is perhaps the best thing to have happened in India over the past year. On this will be built a firmer set of start-ups, companies in which rapid growth and profits will be blended together, and risk is concomitant with practicality.
India’s strengths lie in the knowledge and service industries. It is not just about ideas or putting a set of people together. There’s a lot more to building an organisation which can grow, and stand the test of time. Entrepreneurs in India should look at combining service and product models – start with services to get insights into what the market needs are and to create a steady revenue stream, and then build on the platforms and products that the marketplace needs. This is where companies will need to take risks and place bets on the future. Few Indian companies have grown beyond the dollar-based services model. This must change – we need to innovate and be leaders, not just followers.
For Indian entrepreneurs, a presence outside of India will be critical for success – India is still not a large marketplace for many products and services. Engineering-in-India and marketing-outside-India should be the mantra for startups. This will entail creating management teams which are cross-border. This is where organizations like TIE can play a valuable role. Indian entrepreneurship will not be just about funding companies in India, but about taking Indian start-ups global.
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