Entrepreneurship Ecosystem In India

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.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. What Ails Entrepreneurship in India? A Demand Side Perspective | Gauravonomics Blog said:

    […] discussion going on at Sramana’s blog on what ails entrepreneurship in India. Rajesh Jain and Abhijit Nadgouda have also written about the topic on their own […]

  2. Hrish said:

    You bring out some good points.

    >>I even saw an entrepreneurship course being introduced for engineering graduates

    Can you elaborate on what kind of stuff is taught in this course? Entrepreneurship is not something that can be taught, IMHO.

  3. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Hrish, you are quite right, and perhaps I did not use the right language. That course talked about some case-studies about successful entrepreneurial activities and taught non-engineering aspects of running businesses. I will find more info on that and post it here. I felt that such information, at the right time, can sow the seed in minds of students.

  4. Rohit Mishra said:

    Hi Abhijit
    Being in a college, I can really identify with your views. Outsourcing and thus the not-so-difficult placement has killed all initiative. TCS took more than 1000 freshers from my college VIT, Vellore last year. The focus on placements and jobs is really depressing. Also, the only route that people think of doing good in life is by having an MBA. Wished they can focus more on engineering (not on the outdated curriculum, but the newer technologies).

    I am a member of the Entrepreneurship Cell at my college. We encourage entrepreneurial activities at our college — and our most successful initiative has been organizing an Open Coffee Club chapter at Vellore. The two meets of OCC Vellore drew people out of their shells and they came out to express ideas openly. I am personally averse to the traditional business plan competitions because of two reasons:
    1. I am from the Steve Wozniak school of thought that says that no one but the market can decide whether a product is viable or not. (and he has personal experience to back this)
    2. A business plan competition creates 3 or 10 heroes but leaves the rest disappointed. They get nothing but a feeling that their idea lacks something. Can anyone of you quote a number that how many business plan winners have gone out to have successful ventures? I haven’t seen many. We need to come out with a better model of business plan, where we don’t judge ideas but just give them all possible support. This doesn’t sound convincing, but this is something that all ECells have to work on. This view also came up at the Global Conference of ECells at IIT Bombay that I attended a couple of weeks back where Manik Singh, TiE Charter Member of Bombay raised it.

    I have my own entrepreneurial plans but promoting entrepreneurship among my peers is also very close to my heart. Maybe, my success can help people realize that taking risk and initiative even in the first year of your engineering can pay off!!

    If any of you have any suggestions or want to help us here at VIT in promoting entrepreneurship, do drop a comment or a tweet. Not all entrepreneurs will come from IITs.

  5. Kavita Monani said:

    With the present economic scenario, companies are taking all possible measures to cut costs and deliver service at minimal expense. However, corporates are finding that a huge amount of their expenses goes into training fresh employees as less than 30% of engineering graduates are industry-ready.
    One of the topics of discussion on the upcoming international conference at ISB is the need for vocational training education (www.isb.edu/wced/isb-randconference)

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Abhijit Nadgouda
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