Innovation and Entrepreneurship in India

India Knowledge@Wharton reports on a panel I participated in recently. One of my comments:

Jain: One of the first things you need to innovate is the ability to imagine tomorrow’s world. How is the future going to be different? The entrepreneur in some ways has to live in that future world. We don’t do enough of that in India. We tend to project based on what we’re seeing today. But just looking at the impact of developments today helps you imagine the future. For example, what happens if broadband comes, what happens if the mobile data infrastructure becomes even better than it is right now with 3G networks? Then what are the new opportunities which become available?

Second, what’s required is the ability to think big. We have a large domestic market in India. What are its needs and how can one go about fulfilling these needs, rather than just looking outside India? So it’s about products and solutions for the local market.

The third thing is the ability to be prepared to fail. What would you do if you were not afraid of failure? This is very important because otherwise we tend to think very incrementally. Of course, an entrepreneur is not necessarily a person who goes out there trying just to make audacious decisions. As an entrepreneur, you’re basically going out there every day to reduce your risk of failure. But, at the same time, you need to look at disruptive innovations rather than just think incrementally. If you put all of this together, you’ll see the world very differently and new ideas will emerge.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.