When you read and hear statistics like 55 million internet users and half a billion mobile users in India, you might be tempted to call India a hub for digital entrepreneurs. But wait for a second and think on it. Do you seriously think that there is a place for digital entrepreneurs in India. You might respond, “Off course. Yes”. But for last few years, I have seen many sad faces of digital entrepreneurs carrying nothing but a hope. Sorry for my dark imagery of digital entrepreneurs, but India is still not in the phase and I have doubts on whether it will ever be? Not that I am pessimistic, but I have my reasons. After all, I am myself a hopeful digital entrepreneur.
After attending lots of entrepreneur meets, startup meets and VCs talk, I never missed to hear words like mobile applications, cloud computing and so on. This meant only things like enterprise solutions and mobile advertisements. But none talked about the changing digital lifestyles, the social media effect and the changing media. Off course, I always met few people frustrated with this lack of mention. So I kept thinking deeply on the matter.
When I say digital entrepreneurs, I am purely referring to people who believe that they can make a living by creating just a web application and a purely digital content. I am not even referring to enterprise solution or the needs of enterprise, but the needs of a common man. Though there are few, making a good amount from blogging, there are rare examples of people making a good chunk out of digital applications, the kind which gets so much attention in the Silicon Valley that a movie gets made out of it and it becomes a blockbuster.
This brings me to mention that media itself is not that huge in India. What? How dare I mention that a country with a booming economy and a fore front in a global leadership, lacks media consciousness. But honestly, media in India in large terms means bollywood, cricket and politics (also the ever tiring life insurance advertisement). Think about it and compare, the numbers of literatures(novels) being written every year in the US, the number of pop and rock music released every month in the US, the number of TV serials and new brands being released every year in the US, the types of magazines and comics published each month in the US, the type of games and their market size in the US, the number of research papers and technological innovations done every year in the US. Am I hitting the right note here? Hope I am because what I am referring to is not technological breakthrough, but a cultural one.
Mainstream media still prefers to employ workable formula and used/tested methods. Rarely you will find an experimentation. It is thus, important for digital entrepreneurs to understand that you are dealing with the culture and not just the needs. For me, digital entrepreneurship is more about media and people, rather than just yet another tech breakthrough. Digital economy or the Internet economy works best when there is large variety in the culture and in people. Centralization is not what created google, twitter and facebook, it was the decentralization of ideas and innovation that boosted these breakthroughs.
So unless people and culture change, innovating would be like making a comb for a bald person. But yes, there is a hope. The hope that the emerging digital revolution might just be able to create and expose the variety in today’s society. We may get to read stories never been told before, listen to kind of music never been composed before and talking about games and experience never shared before. These might create more variety and be able to break the centralization of media. This is when digital entrepreneurs will shine and make their move.
Off course what I have mentioned is only one aspect of digital entrepreneurship but it is the one which will allow innovation in the culture and shift in attitude towards life. I am myself unable to conclude on this topic and provide a conclusion, but here I am at the end of my write up and I humbly ask to all entrepreneurs if they think India is ready for the Digital Entrepreneurs.