World Entrepreneurship Day Special: Prof. Vivek Wadhwa says “Don’t waste time on going to venture capitalists”
“Experienced entrepreneurs need to start helping fledgling entrepreneurs”
Prof. Vivek Wadhwa is a senior research associate with the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and an executive in residence/adjunct professor at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. He helps students prepare for the real world, lectures in class, and leads groundbreaking research projects. He is also an advisor to several start-up companies, a columnist for BusinessWeek.com and a contributor to several international publications. His research has been supported by several grants from the Kauffman Foundation and by the Sloan Foundation.
Prof. Wadhwa has collaborated with highly regarded academics from Harvard, Duke, New York University, University of California-Berkeley, and other universities. His work has been cited in over 1,000 national and international media outlets over a 30-month period. Prof. Wadhwa holds an MBA from New York University and a B.A. in Computing Studies from the Canberra University in Australia. He is founding president of the Carolinas chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TIE), a non-profit global network intended to foster entrepreneurship. He has been featured in thousands of articles in worldwide publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Science magazine. He has also made many appearances on U.S. and international TV stations including CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC and the BBC.
Among his research studies, “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” is very interesting. You can download the report from http://www.globalizationresearch.com/ Prof. Wadhwa is active on Twitter and at times engages in amusing conversations.
Prof. Wadhwa’s research on entrepreneurship is significant. On World Entrepreneurship Day, YourStory is privileged to present his views. In an e-mail interview with Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist, YourStory, he compares and contrasts the present Indian system with the Silicon Valley.
- Thank you Prof. Vivek Wadhwa for talking to YourStory. As an academic, how do you view the ecosystem for entrepreneurs in India at present?
In the tech world, I see entrepreneurship taking off in a big way. Indian entrepreneurs are not much different than their American counterparts. Americans tech entrepreneurs are typically middle aged and highly experienced. On average, they start companies when they are close to 40 years of age. They get tired of working for others and want to build wealth and commercialize their ideas before they retire. Given that the Indian IT boom started about a decade ago, there are hundreds of thousands of techies who have about a decade of experience and who are approaching middle-age. Over the next few years, they will start leaving companies like Infosys and Wipro and start founding companies. So I expect a big tech boom in India over the next decade.
- You had been to India recently. What is your opinion about the entrepreneurial spirit in India?
The Indian entrepreneurship spirit is very strong—as strong as what I see in American. Indians are gaining more confidence that they can succeed and compete on the world stage. So I am very optimistic.
3. How important are mentors or coaches in the life of an entrepreneur?
This is extremely important. In fact, the reason Indians have achieved so much success in Silicon Valley is that the first generation of entrepreneurs who achieved success here decided to help others and founded groups like TiE—they decided to give back and help their community. They provided role models and mentorship for the newer generations of entrepreneurs. The result is that Indians have gone from founding ZERO percent of Silicon Valley companies to founding 15.5% of its start-ups over a 25-year period.
These are the lessons that India needs to learn. Its experienced entrepreneurs need to start helping fledgling entrepreneurs. They can achieve the same success as their brethren in Silicon Valley.
- What books would you recommend for a startup entrepreneur?
There are dozens of books on how to start a company. I would recommend that entrepreneurs also read books on how to sell and market their products.
- What is your three points to someone eager to take the plunge as an entrepreneur…
First, assume that you will need to bootstrap your company. Don’t waste time on going to venture capitalists. Start by understanding customer problems and work with potential customers in solving these. Once you develop a solution, then master the art of selling. If you can build a product that customer really need and that they are ready to pay money for, you are on the road to success. Investment will come to you when you least need it.
We thank Prof. Wadhwa for providing real-time advice to entrepreneurs.