Some of the best Indian minds are managing PE & VC funds and are busy creating wealth for external shareholders, on the back of India’s growth.
India has been prospering, and so should the Indian entrepreneurs!
VCs around the world know that there has never been a better time than now to be an entrepreneur! In today’s world of online markets & social marketing, the costs of launching a startup are tempting – as low as a few lakh rupees! The entry barriers? Almost none for a good entrepreneur.
I invite every Indian with an entrepreneurial dream to consider this trade-off ladder. Trade your years of fulfilling others’ ambitions to one where you live your own dreams!
I have an idea!
The idea does not need a patent.
I can build a prototype
I can find a team/ friends to build a prototype for me
I Know what it costs to build and have the funds
I can find an incubator to develop the idea – in return for a small stake
I have built the prototype, I can test and grow by bootstrapping.
I have proved the idea and I have the funds required to scale.
I can raise funds to go to market & then scale
Scale, wow… I did it!
I am rich! What fun! What more can I play?
As people take more control of their lives, boundaries between fields and skill sets are blurring. Job descriptions are becoming fluid & amorphous. What was once a salesman in the bricks & mortar world has now become a “growth hacker” with multiple skills like digital marketing, evangelizing, search engine optimization, product development etc..
The analytically minded want to explore their artistic side.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and such platforms which encourage self-expression are enabling people to discover their multi-dimensional selves, like a banker who starts to take his photography seriously because he was the official photographer at a friend’s wedding.. and his pictures on Facebook were a huge hit.
Full time employees want to test sail in entrepreneurship waters, well before they make the jump.
Why then do we not produce the next big thing like twitter, pinterest or even a zynga?
We perhaps lack the imagination, we lack the courage to take big risks, and to be fair – we also lack the eco-system of Silicon Valley where other rich entrepreneurs love risk, back new nascent ideas & the budding entrepreneurs.
On the positive side, ours is an ambitious generation. We are considered an intelligent lot, the world over! We have bred some of the world’s best entrepreneurs like Mr Ambani.
So, I would like to give a wake up call to Indian entrepreneurs.
For my bit, I will contribute to the building of networks – where entrepreneurs meet, brainstorm & refine ideas, form teams, meet investors & raise funds. Because it takes several serendipitous meetings and the convergence of different fields & ideas to come up with creative solutions to India’s opportunities & problems. The Options pricing problem was solved by Black Scholes not by some financial theory, but by the wave equation in particle physics related to Quantum mechanics. The solution would not have occurred to someone who did not know both particle physics & options! We cannot all be experts in more than 2 fields utmost.
So, let us harness the power of our population, our networks & ideas!
And, if you aren’t the sorts who receives a dozen new ideas a day, here are some to get you inspired.
1. Music is the joy of life..
Bollywood is one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world. Yet we do not have a platform to do anything creative outside of studios , which historically have had high entry barriers.. If there were a platform where creative artists could discover each other’s complimentary talents & collaborate in artistic projects.. We could be spawning many kolaveri di’s, without ever planning to.
I am not saying there could be a million A.R.Rahmans , but certainly there are millions of musically inclined who could at least pursue a creative hobby seriously without having to give up their primary careers, if only we had the infrastructure. So go set up desi versions of Soundcloud & GarageBand with desi tunes, Zakir Hussain beats or Hari Prasad Chaurasia’s alaap.
2. Wireless broadband enables rich media products
The availability of wireless broadband is going to open up a lot of hitherto unavailable opportunities like video streaming. So real time experience sharing becomes possible with rich media. Eg., eudemy, peopleperhour.
3. Crowd source Design & illustration images & monetize them like Getty images
India is a vast pool of talent in every single field. You see any online outsourcing firm like Elance, 99designs Indian service providers easily outnumber everyone else, the new emerging favorite in developer world being Ukraine. If only we had a local ecosystem to exploit our unfair advantage – of a young talented population outnumbering every country but one!
4. Education & Training
Converting educational content for mobile devices – ipads, smartphones – in creative formats – for example illustrating a Pythagorus theorem through animation rather than an equation. The content waiting to be converted is humongous despite efforts of organizations like the Khan foundation. Similarly, the number of graduates who need to be trained to join the work force every year is immense. In every area, whether it is retail, banking or sophisticated financial products.
5. Social sharing of tastes, reviews of products & services (Fancy, Four square) and regional conversations
6. Productivity enhancing tools customised to local usage & taste
Evernote – store everything
Tenxer – enhance personal efficiency – for those geniuses ambitious to maximise their output quality
7. Reach & access to essential services
Renting out idle inventory or expert time through online auctioning or discounted selling, such as
Appointments with doctors
Applications for Self-Diagnosis of diseases which have easily spotted symptoms
Online adminsitration of healthcare
Reminders for Children’s vaccines & pills
Online portals already exist for hourly or fractional services offered in metros such as
8. Lifestyle Apps
Healthy eating, living, exercising
School parent interface etc
9. Online Social clubs for sports fans / adventure tourists – where they can share messages, comment on matches live & bond over shared Camaraderie
10. Content analysis for behavior prediction
Analyse twitter feeds or company email exchanges to determine mood , trends & alert decision makers, affected parties.
eg., effect of an event on a political party
see effect of bonuses on employee morale – neutral, positive or negative
If you are convinced by my reasoning to set sail in entrepreneurship, or merely intrigued by other entrepreneurs, come along to the party..
Destination India 2012 , July 26th at Sofitel Mumbai.
If you have an idea you would like to pitch to investors, email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details & Registration at http://destinationindia2012.eventbrite.com.
Arifa Khan is the founder of Genius Incubator which helps entrepreneurs raise capital. She was formerly an investment banker with Credit Suisse in the Financial Sponsors group. Arifa is a chemical engineer from IIT Madras and a Wharton MBA with Finance specialisation. She is passionate about building an entrepreneur-investor eco-system in India.
Register here for a Startup / VC / Angel Investors networking event on July 26th at Sofitel Mumbai.