Sramana Mitra has a good discussion going on about what is lacking in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India. Contribute to the discussion, we need more such pieces to bring about a change. Here are my thoughts.
While I see that VCs have a different perspective towards Indian interests, the underlying cause is perhaps internal to our industry. These observations might be specifically about IT industry as they are purely out of my experience.
I believe that entrepreneurship requires a culture of experimentation, innovation and ability to take risks. Somehow, our industry has drifted away from this for various reasons.
- The Entrepreneurial India is a victim of outsourcing. You might laugh at this, but I see a lot of talent getting lost in doing it for someone else, and that too with cheap outsourcing. This has built a system where the efforts, of the experienced and the freshers, have been focused on the cost to compete instead of innovation.
- The service-oriented industry has also missed out on a lot of opportunities of building products, for local and global market. Products allow us to experiment more, fail faster and show their ROI a lot quicker than services. No wonder, VCs hold back their interests till later stages for Indian ventures.
- Not only has this helped the big fish get bigger, but it has also built a bias in the academics towards them. Freshers want to get a job with big companies. Not only does this kill the entrepreneurship bug, but it has become the only interface between the industry and the academics. Students are not exposed to the other stories unless they make their own efforts. There are some entrepreneurship cells in some schools, but they are quite limited in scope and scale.
- The culture of taking up jobs has a side-effect of building safety in the work. Which also means no mistakes, no experiments and no innovation. This safety is being built by companies as well, not many companies entertain the idea of research and experimentation labs.
Having said that, things are changing. There are more platforms that talk about startups and entrepreneurs. I even saw
an entrepreneurship course a course which introduced entrepreneurial skills and non-engineering activities of running a business being introduced for engineering graduates. I know a couple of friends who have left their cosy jobs for more challenging fronts looking to do something on their own. Now it will be great if VCs change their perception of Indian ventures, we get better facitlies for finance and infrastructure, the society allows failures and we retain the best talent. But it will not happen till we, as individuals and an industry, have to lead the change by building an ecosystem of experimentation, innovation and ability to take risk, where entrepreneurship can thrive.