The year 2017 was one of the profound shares by thought-leaders and influencers. Here are some of my favourite takeaways from each the months, which have led me to my 2018 predictions, or what I would like to witness.
The year began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonia Costa, launching the India-Portugal startup portal, with information on startup cities like Bengaluru, Delhi and Lisbon. The Indian-origin Portuguese PM, in town to attend the annual congregation of the overseas Indian community, also spoke at the #StartupIndia event in Bengaluru.
In his speech, Costa shared: "All Portugal startups are born global. For many businesses we are also the gateway to Latin America and the European Union."
During his speech on Reliance Jio’s milestone of crossing 100 million customers, Chairman and MD of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani said India was the No 1 country in the world for mobile data usage, of which a significant portion was consumed as videos.
He said: “Data is the new oil and its benefit to society is immense”.
During the convocation ceremony at IIM-Ahmedabad, Asix Bank MD and CEO Shikha Sharma had some unusual advice for students:
"The choice of a life partner is the single most important choice you’ll make in your life. Much of the joy you derive in your life harks back to who you choose to share this journey with,” she said, telling students to look beyond appearance, one’s success or style, and instead look for one’s character.
At SAP India’s annual StartupSocial conference, former Infosys co-founder and UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani about the startup mindset. He said:
"Building a startup and growing it is a marathon, not a sprint. Building to last is a mindset.” He went on to speak how the digital infrastructure enables startups to be data rich before being economically rich.
South Indian actor and filmmaker Ramesh Aravind has been sharing his learnings and observations with startups through a motivational video series through the Bhive community. Here was one from May that got many a share on social media.
“Whoever you are, there’s going to be somebody who’s smarter than you, somebody dumber than you, somebody richer than you, somebody poorer than you. It’s always going to be there. It’s an endless chain, unless you are the richest man in the world like Bill Gates. So, this whole point of comparison is going to end in a bottomless pit. The ideal comparison you should do, is with your yourself. What you are capable of? What you could be and where you are? What you are and what you can be?”
This candid advice came during the month from Truecaller’s early investor, Tom Henriksson of OpenOcean VC. He said:
“Always focus on core geographical market(s). India is the company’s largest market, with more than 50 percent of its user-base.”
He went on to share that the US was not always the answer. He shared about how they entered the US market in 2014, and the user-base never took off despite significant investments, even while the company was accelerating in other geographical areas.
Former US Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil visited Bengaluru and shared his thoughts at an UpGrad event titled ‘How Data Analytics and Automation will transform India’. “After our team first coined the term ‘Data Scientist’, more people seemed to apply to this job than any other,” he said.
India, he said, with a population of a billion people, there was a lot to learn, especially on building solutions on scale. His advice to today’s 20-year-olds was, “Be curious and always be learning”.
There were a few campus and youth-focused events in August, including an Under 25 Summit, Under 25 Lit Fest 2017, and IIM Bangalore’s annual entrepreneurship event Eximius 2017. A common thread in such events were how popular the offbeat sessions and speakers were.
One of the previous year’s speaker was comedian, Radio and TV host Danish Sait. His shares seemed to strike a chord with the younger audience. Some of his tips for today’s youngsters were:
- “The reason why my life has become from good to great is because I now get paid to do what I’ve always done as a child.”
- “Never be an ass to someone, you never know they may one day become a Steve Jobs. Just be nice to people.
- “Shape yourself and do things so well, that the world will know you.”
At the IoT India Congress, we learned:
- More people wanted to learn ‘Virtual Manufacturing’ than other topics in the space.
- Attendees felt more startups were needed in ‘Smart Governance’, as compared with ‘Smart Retail’, ‘Smart Homes’ and ‘Smart mobility’.
- The audience felt the bigger challenge with IoT in the Indian Telecom sector was ‘Network Connectivity’, followed by ‘Standards’ and ‘Security’ issues.
At a global pitching competition, Ernst Noorman, Director of the Dutch entrepreneurship council, said:
“When pitching, startups need to let others know what problem they solve and how they make money in the most simple words. If the other person doesn’t get this message, then everything else, ie, the rest of the pitch, wouldn’t make any sense.”
The finale of NASSCOM Product Conclave 2017 had former cricketer and now the brand ambassador of South African Tourism in India, Jonty Rhodes, deliver a talk. In his high-spirited talk, he spoke about his sporting journey, and the many leadership lessons he learnt. However, one point he spent the most time on was the importance of every effort. He said:
“Your effort, your contribution can make a big difference - whether you are a global corporation or a three-member startup. Every single contribution makes a difference because I’ve seen it.”
He gave the example of how South Africa was out of the 1999 and 2003 World Cups because of a single run, and then chased a world record total with the help of their Number 11 batsman scoring that 1 run needed for victory.
Former India captain Anil Kumble was at the NetApp Excellerator’s first-ever Demo Day. In a candid fireside chat, he spoke about challenges and criticism he had faced right through his career - from being regularly told that he wasn’t able to spin the ball enough, his many injuries, including a jaw injury during the game in the West Indies, and being at the bottom of the table after the first few games in the second edition of the IPL.
Anil Kumble believes: “The best way to shut mouths is to perform. At the highest level, skill can take a backseat, how you can surprise the opponent can sometime ensure results in your favour.”
He ended his career with 619 test wickets. For his injured jaw, he faced the challenge heavily-taped and took Brian Lara. Finally, as captain and leader of the RCB IPL team, he played a part in making sure the team reached the finals in the second edition.
In line with these influencer learnings, my forecasts for 2018 would be:
- More Indian startups would be ‘born global’ and will explore newer markets.
- Event audiences will be engaged more productively and in new formats.
- Startup teams that have the mindset like sportspersons would do well.
- There will be a lot more kickass shares in 2018, especially video content.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)