Manish Gupta

Chairman, JIMS Rohini

The Indian entrepreneurial spirit has risen remarkably as India stands third amongst the fastest growing startup countries worldwide – just after the US and the UK.  Digitization is playing a vital role in this scenario and has provided ample opportunities to develop Indian online market. The opportunity today is not only for India but also for ‘Bharat’. In fact semi-urban and rural areas are on their way to get more focus than selected few metro cities.  

Government Initiatives: Government of India has started several flagship programmes to encourage entrepreneurship culture. ‘Start Up India’ campaign aims to create start-ups in all districts, blocks and panchayats around the country. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) serves as a platform for promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas. These are bringing together academicians, entrepreneurs and researchers to collaborate on concepts that could potentially drive economic growth and encourage more people to become entrepreneurs.

Changing Economic Landscape: With aggressive campaigns for cashless transactions, consumers across both urban and rural India are becoming aware about digitisation. Increase in Internet and Digital penetration is certain to unfold plethora of opportunities for technology driven startups. Not only e-commerce industry, but banking, finance, retail, logistics, rural education, consulting and many other fields will get benefited. Banks are developing simplified tools to maximise online transactions. Many easy interfaces such as UPI, USSD, and BHIM are deployed for consumers. Opportunities are ample, starting from educating rural India to converting the mass into consumers.

Who can be the next? The next big thing can come from anyone, anywhere as long as individuals have the right environment and tools. Interesting fact is that women entrepreneurs have started to become more prominent in the innovation economy. Several women-run start-ups such as LimeRoad, Kaaryah, Zivame, CashKaro, and media tech companies such as YourStory and POPxo have become success inspirations. It’s noteworthy that Nidhi Agarwal, founder of Kaaryah, a fashion portal for women’s wear, raised money from Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata during summers of 2016.

Growth Catalysts: While mentors can act as catalysts and can give a right direction, incubators come as great support to keep most of hurdles aside and let one focus on the project. However, the most important driver of entrepreneurial growth is mental fortitude, followed by risk taking capability. Innovative thinking and zeal to improve with trials and errors, start connecting unseen dots that eventually draw a picture.

Major Challenges: Major challenge for any startup is raising funds or finding investors. However, the first thought should not be running after investors but to focus on developing a good product with right business plan. Investors not only keep looking for viable and scalable ideas with low risks but they are also in search of right people who have properly done their ground work. If your preparation is adequate, possibilities are that investors can themselves find you.

The second major challenge is getting right set of people to work on your plan. Planning for Human Resources with needed skills, finance, administration and marketing should all fall into the right place. If the startup is in social sector, then number of social projects becomes crucial. This brings in more clarity on synthesising real problems adopting technology to help you scale.

For startups in technology sector, the major challenge is technology itself. Technology is evolving in such a rapid pace that companies need to track all the updates and keep on improving the products. For startups luring international markets, it’s viable to shift the focus from UK or US to Asian countries. Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Phillipines and Malayasia can also be explored for new consumer market.

Academia to Industry: Conducive environment for entrepreneurs can become more effective if more and more educational institute, especially those offering technology and management education, start nurturing the thoughts within students that they should try becoming job creators rather than job seekers. Research driven innovations supported by workshops with angel investors can be very effective in propelling industries to lead on the global stage.

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