How starting up in 80s wasn't the same as today, Nandan Nilekani shares his thoughts


Starting up in the 80's was a different cup of tea from starting up today, as Nandan Nilekani will tell you. Infosys, the company he co-founded was born around ten years before the economic reforms began. At TechSparks grand finale, Nandan spoke about this very difference.

It was the first time that middle class people with no money were starting a company. Everybody told us not to start a company. my parents, my teachers my uncles, they said, 'you are crazy to start a company, go and join some large corporation'.
Nandan Nilekani

Today it is time for 100's of global companies from India, Nandan emphasized in his talk. There is an street in HSR layout (a Bangalore suburb) which is almost entirely filled with startups. He observed, drawing parallels with entrepreneurship scene in 1980's.

We did not really celebrate entrepreneurship. It was all about large companies and multinationals and not about startups. doing business was very difficult, getting a phone took two years. we couldn't travel abroad without asking permission from the reserve bank of India. There was a time when I had to make two quick visits to the New York for business, and some clerk in RBI said, 'why are you going to the US so often '. That was the kind of India we were in those days, yet we are able to break out of that. The break happened in the early 1990's when economic liberalization happened.

Nandan also spoke about his takeaways from his journey in the last 30 years and shared his lessons in the talk. Here's the video: