Till recently, the word ‘startup’ in the Indian technology scene was mostly seen associated with a team who belonged to either the IITs, or the IIMs or who came back to India to make the most after getting inspired from the Silicon Valley startups. These guys somehow didn’t find the work ethics of the ‘dream-package’ company they were employed in, conducive enough.
This has changed for the better in the recent past. The post 2012period has seen a major shift towards the startup culture, with a bigger pool of young, ambitious and talented individuals, shifting towards the startup domain. Now, fresh graduates and post-graduates do not think twice before venturing into the entrepreneurship route. Gone are the days when they had to convince their families that it’s their passion they wanted to pursue rather than a regular 9-to-6 job.
But the road is not all rosy as yet. There are a lot of issues which are still in the way of making the Indian startup market even close to that existing in the Silicon Valley.
Some of the Major Limitations are :
- Mentors: Majority of startups in India need proper guidance. Mentors, who can let enthusiasts know the insights of how it all works, how partnerships are made, basically an outline of how to go about things to maximize their productivity.While many organisations have come up with startup meetups, panel discussions and b-plan competitions, I feel a course on entrepreneurship should be mandatory in every college– both for students pursuing graduation and post-graduation.While the B-schools generally have a course on entrepreneurship, we should have it in other streams as well. I feel that such a course would help even those who are going to work for others, as entrepreneurship is not only working independently but is capturing the essence of your passion and pursuing it. It could very well be for some company.
- Do not limit your-self to the Indian Market: Internet in India hasn’t matured to its full potential yet. Advertising doesn’t generate as much revenue as it does in Europe or US. If a problem has a global influence, solve it for the world and not just the Indian market.If there are issues to be solved in the country and you feel that business can be made out of it, go for it.I just want to urge people to look global rather than only inside the nation because I feel that we are one country who can be as good as them at Silicon Valley – but we need to have a global approach towards it.
- Brutal Honesty: The great Indian ego, yes it is startling to hear but it’s a fact that ego-battles lead to the downfall of many startups in India. People are too polite to put down others’ ideas keeping in mind the “being nice” principles and in-effect giving false hope to the developer. Being ruthless and hard-hearted is what it needs to be successful instead.
Well known VC Vinod Khosla, when interviewed by TechCrunch founder, Michael Arrington said:“We prefer brutal honesty to hypocritical politeness.”We Indians should practice brutal honesty more while reviewing a startup.
We will also be doing the same when we’d be reviewing startups as we feel it’s important to judge the startup rather than write a PR about it.
- I want to startup because I want to make money: The ‘making-quick-money’ intent is driving the startup scene off course in India. Agreed, people generally join a startup because they either get tired of working for others or want to make an impact and build wealth before they get too old. But, you should remember that it’s not the hunger to earn which makes you an entrepreneur but it’s the passion for entrepreneurship which does it.You may go without any earning for some time, but then remember that the best of entrepreneurs who are biggies now did not have anything to show for the first few years. Remember the story of Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Naukri.com fame who did not earn a single penny in the initial years of starting up– see where his startup is now. Struggle is the name of the game baby! Only the tough survive.Also, although I am no expert, I feel that hunting for VC funding or investors right from the beginning ain’t the way to progress. What entrepreneurs actually need to do is to try and sustain with their personal savings, at least for the first few months. Always try bootstrapping till you cannot raise funds anymore. Then when things look bright, go for funding. As they say, there’s always a right time for things.
If we are able to keep the above things in mind, chances are that we as Indians will not just churn out entrepreneurs but churn out revolutionary entrepreneurs who think at a global level and yet solve the nation’s problems. Earning money won’t be an issue then.
And, if you feel that you’re too small to compete in this competitive world, new to all the challenges that lie ahead. Then, I have to quote CEO of one of the most prominent Startup of India:
Personally, I don’t believe in big or small. These are notions of the mind, and don’t let that stop you from trying.
With those inspiring words, and some raw startup facts about India, don’t you think it’s time to take on Silicon Valley?
Note : I wanted to publish this as the first article here, but it took me around 27 revisions to get this article at this stage.