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Entrepreneurship in India - Then and Now Author: M Suresh Rao Date: Entrepreneurs have been setting up businesses in India since kingdom come. It is no secret that these entrepreneurs have originated from a dominant caste.
How did this community sustain entrepreneurship over the ages? By developing a sustainable eco-system that matched the needs of the traditional businesses.
The core of this eco-system is the incubation facility within the business that enabled the next generation entrepreneur to dabble in incremental innovation, funded by angel funding drawn from the surplus generated by the cash cow of the business.
Prototypes were developed and test marketed through access to vendors and distributors and the sales force. Timely customer feedback on the prototype led to building the minimum viable product and the soft market launch.
Business mentoring from the experienced elders substituted for any classroom learning. Those from non-business communities lacked the vital eco-system for creating a start up.
The two professions ran their own divergent paths with their own benchmarks for success. So from the surnames, chances were, you could determine that Birla was, and Bhattacharya was not, in business.
However, the emergence of technology as the key driver of a venture and the consequent necessity of professional education for new venture creation has forever botched up the age old divergence in mindset. Leading the tech charge has been Information Technology which required the founding team to have computer science graduates.
Moreover, these technology based new age businesses qualified as ventures and not dhandha in the minds of first generation entrepreneurs from the non-business community and so were acceptable.
Along with technology came the professional network or eco-system — with substantial support from US based NRIs. Truly, it was the impact of Indians in America that gave the lie to the deeply held belief in traditional India that entrepreneurs were born — in a certain community.
Indians in USA, irrespective of their surnames, pursued knowledge based new venture creation with vigour and succeeded with support from the eco-system. Over the past couple of decades an equivalent eco-system has been getting in place in the country for the new age ventures starting with the well intentioned mentor and gradually extending to growth stage investors who are the Venture Capitalists and Private Equity players, and not excluding the markets — from US based customers for the IT ventures right down to Tier 3 city based consumers for the e-commerce ventures!
E-Cells in Engineering colleges have been influential in triggering awareness, interest, desire and action towards entrepreneurship among students from non-business communities. Over a decade plus years, the seed sown by NEN has blossomed into a nursery of E-Cells engaged in promoting start-ups at the college level.
Besides E-Cells, the number of higher education institutions setting up incubation centres is increasing with private players chipping in by rolling out start up accelerators.
However, the paucity of experienced mentors and domain experts restricts the effectiveness of these institutions. Is the government doing anything to promote first generation entrepreneurship? That apart, much is expected from the follow up steps to the Start Up India initiative launched on 16th January.
In a fundamental way, the vision for Start Up India parallels that of the Green and White Revolutions, which had champions — Dr Swaminathan and Dr Kurian - to both set the vision and execute sustainably at the grass-root level.
So now India generates entrepreneurs from all communities, whether first generation entrepreneurs from non-business communities or next generation members from traditional family businesses. Truly a remarkable feat achieved in less than 3 decades! If asset heavy manufacturing and conventional service businesses characterised by incremental improvements in technology defined the old economy, asset light, online based new service ventures characterised by rapidly changing technology represent the new economy.
Often, the founding team can be traced to the college dorm where you can assess both competence and compatibility. The skill set required for such ventures are domain and execution-under-pressure skills.
Ten per cent annual business growth has been substituted by ten per cent monthly growth.Helping women farmers transition from traditional to organic farming Organic farming presents an opportunity for women farmers to cultivate with fewer inputs, generate higher profits and contribute to the sustainability of land and its ecosystems.
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Dear Sir, This is a great article on Entrepreneurship in India. The evolution of entrepreneurship has been described in a beautiful manner. The startup India plan started by Narendra Modi is a great platform as it provides budding entrepreneurs with all the subsidies they need to start their business in India.
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