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The need of 'Early Adopters' in India

Special Thanks to Dr. Aniruddha Malpani for his insightful suggestions & Ankita Agarwal for helping in editing this article 

Sunday August 13, 2017,

5 min Read

Who are 'Early Adopters’?

Individual or business organizations who use a new product or technology before others.

Ideal qualities of Early Adopters

· They are open minded, willing to try new things and trend-setters in their own right with an experimental attitude

· They are likely to pay more for the product than later adopters, because initially the costs of a new service or product tend to be higher as there are no economies of scale, and they understand that fact

· They accept the fact that something that is new or innovative can be more expensive, in exchange for increased efficiency, decreased costs. Sometimes in certain cases, if they feel a certain product/service might elevate their social status

· They are also more accepting & tolerant towards minor bugs and flaws (teething problems) of such products/services compared to their later counterparts

Importance/Significance of Early Adopters to a Startup

· They are usually one of the first evangelists of the products/services if they like it

· Early adopters who use the product/services provide feedback about the bugs/deficiencies, suggestions on where the product is lacking, and/or how could it be improved further. A lot of startups and even large companies rely on early adopters for feedback on their initial versions of a new product

· The first 100 customers are the hardest to reach, and their feedback is of utmost important, and such a community could actually help startups pivot or fail fast or succeed in the true sense

Importance of Early Adopters in India

One important reason for the lack of innovation in the Indian startup ecosystem could be the lack of early adopter mentality.

In my experience as an Indian consumer and a startup founder, there are numerous factors discouraging innovation in our society (some applicable to myself). A few relevant to the topic at hand are as follows:

1. We, as a society are hesitant to try new products/services.

2. Also, we are generally overly cost-conscious and do not want to spend much on something new initially even if it improves the quality of our lives at a minor increase of cost. Basically we are slow to adopt such products, we eventually do adopt something successful globally.

3. An entrepreneur attempting an out-of-the-box idea is at times ridiculed, and not supported. (However, there is definitely an attitude shift since the past few years after a few success stories).

4. Unfortunately, apart from the widespread use of Facebook & Whatsapp, tech adaptability is quite low, even though other apps are not used much in spite of easy access. In short, we still prefer to call for inquiries in some cases even if we are capable of using technology.

5. Lack of funding is seen in R & D and experimentation of new ideas and products, because we are more conservative compared to our western counterparts.

In spite of the above problems, a lot of things are changing rapidly and improving, thanks to the success of Flipkart, Ola, Zomato, and other such homegrown startups.

What could be a viable solution?

We, as a community should become catalysts of change and encourage all other Indian startup enthusiasts, influencers, founders, incubators, investors, basically anyone associated with startups to be 'Early Adopters' of new innovative products/services, wherever and whenever possible. Early adopters are those who are willing to test new apps/technological products for their functionality and utility. Also, early adopters are those who are willing to try new services or products and experience firsthand, to find out whether it is capable of solving certain pain points as a consumer. Such a feedback would be invaluable to the innovator.

Recently, a lot of startup enthusiasts are known to claim that the lack of good-quality homegrown startups which have been able to expand their business operation and claim an impressive consumer base globally. There is also the widespread belief that all the good startups are clones of their Western counterparts. In order to enable and encourage such out-of-the box and innovative conceptualization and implementation, we need an urgent paradigm shift in our attitude towards newer ideas/products, along with the risk-taking appetite and willingness to try new things. All this should be coupled with the willingness to encourage a budding entrepreneur through feedback and suggestions. In spite of being utmost open to change/disruption, along with being the foremost advocates of innovation & progress, the startup community is unable to accept new products/services (sometimes even at a higher cost), then we cannot expect any of that from the majority of the population towards our own products/investments. Which would be rather discouraging and demotivating for the entrepreneurs to try untested waters.

What made me write this article?

I am a serial entrepreneur, involved in multiple businesses, including a conventional trading company, a food-tech startup (www.tiffinity.com) and simultaneously, also working on another service based startup primarily for the US audiences initially.

I have gathered my thoughts on this topic to convert more number of people into early adopters of new products and services. I feel that I speak for and I speak to those who are already a part of the Indian start-up circuit.

As is rightly said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, I believe in doing my bit towards expediting the growth of start-ups in our country. If I maintain a conservative approach towards new products, then I can’t possibly expect a diametrically opposite reaction towards my ventures.

What are your thoughts on encouraging innovators and possible ways of creating an active early adopter community in India?