India leads in innovative ideas, but lags in scale

Friday December 24, 2010,

7 min Read

Day 3 TES 2010 keynote panel identifies lack of process mindedness, and design for business, as well as fear of losing control as the key things stopping our entrepreneurs from scaling up

Is India really a leader in entrepreneurship? Thursday morning (Day 3 of TES 2010) started with this question being put to pathbreakers from various sectors of the Indian industry by Shaili Chopra, Senior Editor of ET Now. Mr. Raman Roy, Chairman and MD of Quattro, and pioneer of the Indian BPO industry, answered that it really depends on how you define entrepreneurship. “If entrepreneurship means building great companies, then we are still taking baby steps. If you mean it to be about bringing up new things, new ways just for survival, India is phenomenal. But when it comes to scalability, India does not lead,” Mr Roy said.

Mr. D Shivakumar of Nokia, the man who has brought an FMCG perspective to the mobile phone space said, “India is a huge market in itself. If you can get your act right in urban India alone, you would have achieved global scale.”

So what is stopping us? Second generation entrepreneur Mr. Shivinder Singh, who is the MD of Fortis Healthcare said, “As a country we don’t like processes. This does not allow us to scale. We also don’t have global aspirations. After a point, people want to diversify rather than go deeper into their area.”

How do you achieve scale?

Mr Roy answered that there was a mindset issue to scale. “You need a team to scale, to be global, it cannot be done by a 2-3 member team. You need to have a core alliance, the ability to delegate, trust, and to allow mistakes. That’s where we hit the glass ceiling, when it comes to delegating and having trust.”

Mr Singh agreed that giving up control was indeed a huge issue for an entrepreneur. “The second piece to that is that in the aspiration of creating a kingdom, he ends up creating a fiefdom. In India, most entrepreneurs work in the operations mode. But we need to be more in the design mode, put in structures to ensure that the company is sustained.” Mr Shivakumar agreed and said that it was important to get the right people for the vision you have. To this Mr Roy added, “The finish line has to keep changing.”

To a question on the lack of skillsets in the talent pool, Mr Singh answered that every company now has to do everything in the value chain, from being the realtor to the architect, from trainer of people to being the infrastructure provider. The panel agreed that this is not how it should be, and by collaborating with government a lot of these issues could start being addressed. However, law and order was one area that the government could not be absolved from, said Mr Roy.

Mr Roy also put the idea of change that has to happen in our top educational institutions; from making job seekers by the hundreds, to developing job creators. “If each IIT or IIM graduate can create five jobs, imagine the revolution we can bring in the country,” he said passionately.

The panel also discussed how the entrepreneurship ecosystem had come a long way, thanks to efforts from organizations like TiE, IAN and many others. The panelists also pointed out that instead of the successes of established entrepreneurs, it was more important to celebrate those entrepreneurs who had transformed an idea into a company; celebrate their successes, failures and more importantly talk of those people who had succeeded after failing.

Each of the panelists was asked what each of them would do, personally, to encourage entrepreneurship. Mr Shivakumar said he is easily accessible for any sort of advice any entrepreneur might need. Mr Singh said he wanted to create an ecosystem of partnerships so that Fortis could focus on its core area. Mr Roy, who celebrates the Indian concept of ‘jugaad’, said “I invite entrepreneurs who have a jugaad idea to come up, and let’s show what it is capable of.”

Create Value, Overcome Odds

Learning from established entrepreneurs and sports champions

Chairing the session on Creating Value, Mr. Sunil Munjal, MD and CEO of Hero Corporate Services. Mr Munjal said that all of us create value everyday of our lives in the various roles we play. While earlier, profit was made out to be the sole motive of the enterprise, things are now more focused on delivering on the triple bottom line of Profit, People and Planet. He urged the audience to reflect and find out the value in what they did. “There are over 250 million people in this country who do not get two square meals a day, and the only way we can solve such problems is by increasing value creation.”

Parminder Vij OBE, Director, PVL Media Consultants spoke about how she had created value in her line of work being in the UK. By creating documentaries and films that focused on the multiculturalism of UK, she and the people she works with have been able to change the face of UK television, which earlier stuck to ethnic-cleansed stereotyping.

Anil Kumar Agarwal, CMD, PME Power Solutions talked of his journey of starting a transformer making company to becoming a quality solutions provider in the power space, not just in India, but in Africa and Middle East. “It’s not about customer satisfaction or delight anymore, it’s now about customer intimacy,” he said. He also said that he looks at his balance sheet from four angles: Employees, Processes, Investors and Customers, and assesses the value created for each of them.

Pallav Nadhani, Founder, Fusion Charts, spoke about being able to make pocket money when he was 16, as value creation. He said we looked at how our product was different from others by identifying a need that the customers had, but had not felt. “You also create value as a country. We proudly proclaimed that our product is Made in India. We still do. Then we made it commercially open source, and that created a lot of value as well.”

The most exciting session of the day meant to Aspire Young Achievers saw three of India’s celebrated sports stars, medal winners in the recent Asian Games as well as Commonwealth Games.This was hosted by Amit Bhatia, Founder & CEO of Aspire, a social enterprise.Deepika Kumari, archer, spoke about having faced many struggles to even get selected for training in archery. The idea was to never give up trying, even if you lose, she said

Gymnast Ashish Kumar said he started training for as long as seven hours daily when he was just 4 years old. He said it was important for him to enjoy gymnastics to be able to succeed. He said that when participating in other countries, when the crowd cheers for the home players, he imagines that they are actually cheering for him, and that keeps him motivated.


Para swimming champion, Prashant Karmakar talked of the various techniques that he uses to stay motivated, and overcome fear when competing at international events. Visualization, deep breaths, and activating the body were some of the techniques he mentioned.

While thanking the Haryana government for being the only state to avidly support sports in a big way Prashant said that India had little chance of winning an Olympic gold medal if the monthly stipend to an archery champion was just Rs 500. He requested the audience to support the cause of sports, not necessarily through money, but by identifying promising stars and supporting them in any way.

About The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship. TiE was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals with roots in the Indus region.

There are currently over 15,000 members and more than 2,500 charter members in 56 chapters across 14 countries. TiE’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship

globally through mentoring, networking, and education. Dedicated to the virtuous

cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community, TiE’s focus is on

generating and nurturing our next generation of entrepreneurs

TiE members include senior and successful Entrepreneurs, VCs, Angel Investors, Private Equity, and Law Firms, Tech and Management professionals, SME’s, aspiring entrepreneurs and students.

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