View from the sidelines by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy
Languages would be poorer without literature. Litterateurs have to exploit possibilities in a language to showcase its glory. If you think evangelism is the domain of only godmen, it is time to think again. Today, the spirit of entrepreneurship is vibrant, bold, and beyond hype. Startups are born out of colleges and young grads who betted their future on safe, multinational company jobs are thinking different. Everyone seems to be bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Entrepreneurship has found its way into medical literature—it is a disease characterized by restlessness, overworking, eternal adrenalin rush, insomnia, and always feeling great. Entrepreneurs are stepping out on their own not just for money. And for some, money doesn’t seem to matter as much as their idea and passion to make a difference. Entrepreneurs have spawned disciplines and have forayed into niche domains where the path is uncertain and the journey arduous.
If you step back and think for a moment, what has made this possible and which did not exist at all at least a couple of years ago, the answers may differ depending upon your perception. We cannot simply explain why a guy quit his studies to run his own company. Was Bill Gates his inspiration? Probably not. Because Gates started in the 1980s and the way things operate in India and United States are different. This guy would have been probably turned on by the vast number of opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs today. Until sometime ago, colleges would not invite many people to talk about entrepreneurship. Today, every college seems to have an entrepreneurial club or an e-cell. It is quite possible that a talk inspired this guy to start on his own.
But along with the growth of entrepreneurs and their wares, a steady flow of fringe players, mostly who have been there and done that, and a host of organizations entered the fray. Individuals like Sharad Sharma, a product software entrepreneur, who found the atmosphere inhibiting to start on his own in 2004, wanted to change the way the ecosystem was. The birth of software industry in India also saw the founding of an industry body NASSCOM to build that spirit of community and collaboration. Sharad Sharma found NASSCOM an able partner to give shape to his vision to bring effective changes to the ecosystem—he chairs the Product Form at NASSCOM. The forum has been able to make a telling difference to enable product entrepreneurs build a spirit of community, partnership, sharing, and get together to discuss what ails them.
NASSCOM’s efforts are supplemented by individuals, who on their own volition, have taken up the cause of entrepreneurship. If these evangelists didn’t exist, the building of communities around entrepreneurs would not have been possible to the extent what we see today. This time NASSCOM, during its Product Conclave at Bangalore on November 10 and 11, 2010, is awarding four individuals who have stepped beyond their personal brief to build a vibrant community for entrepreneurs to come together. There are angels, VCs, mentors, friends, fools, et al. for entrepreneurs to get support from. What these individuals have done over the past couple of years or some even before is to demonstrate how entrepreneurship is displayed in real time. They have helped entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs get the essential “toolkit” in form of a platform, story-telling, community building, or networking. Entrepreneurs have hugely benefited from the efforts of these individuals. So it is only relevant that these individuals get visibility and recognition from NASSCOM.
Please stay tuned as we track the winners of the Ecosystem Evangelist award instituted by NASSCOM to recognize individuals in the ecosystem who have made a difference to entrepreneurial community.