Over the past 4 months, I had interacted with over 100 Indian startups and SMEs and has been amazed by the quality of founders and products they are building. It is time to grow global!
"Indian companies are only doing Jugaad innovation"
"Quality of services or products by Indian companies are not up to the Western standard and only suited for local Indian market"
"Indian companies are run by people who do not have Western professional standards"
"Indians are always bargaining and looking for the cheapest option"
I, like many others, believed in all the above.
Come 2017. I had the opportunity to talk and work with many awesome Indian start-ups and SMEs. Yes, the vast majority are still in at least one of the above four categories but I have been surprised with the quality of entrepreneurs that I had interacted with in the past 4 months. They are very smart, often with Western university degree, driven by a dream to build world class product and extremely knowledgeable not only on their subject but in other world matters.
On the other hand side, I have been also mentoring startups in Europe and have interacted with 100s of European startups. When I compare European startups with Indian startups, I find that Indian companies are in a better position to compete in European market.
- We are willing to work hard. Weekends, holidays - we do not care!
- Our spiritual background, competitive nature and diversity within our country help us to think differently and come up with new ways to solve a problem.
- Our local market is extremely price sensitive. So we have to provide the 'best deal'. Unfortunately, the 'best deal' is often the worst deal but when a company is able to truly provide the best deal in a good price, then it does really well.
- It is extremely heartening to see that India is not moving towards protectionism (unlike China and to some extent Europe). In a short run, protectionism might help some companies get big but protectionism always kills innovation and building world class products.
There is a class of Indian entrepreneurs who are no longer looking to copy Western companies and launch in India. They want to build the next Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Amazon. They are driven by one belief:
India is not a jugaad innovation country - it is going to be a place for world class innovation and products.
And that makes me optimistic about future. So if you are building a world class product, why should you focus on European markets?
1. European market is going and will continue to go through economic downturn and people and businesses are looking for cheaper (but quality) products. China is not able to fill that gap. Indian products can.
2. Although many Indian companies are making world class products, the Indian market is not yet ready for that. The vast majority of Indian consumers are still not willing to pay the extra price for the quality.
3. Intellectual property is a big concern for many Indian companies. They have the fear that their ideas will be easily copied and the laws are not strict enough. Europe has much higher standards with respect to IP protection.
4. Despite the difference, there are many similarities between Europe and India culturally. And also there is a high regard and growing interest about India in Europe, primarily due to the spiritual and historical background.
5. Indian companies both SMEs and startups have the necessary cash. Resources and people are getting expensive in India and it is often the same price at hiring someone in Europe than in India.
However Indian companies need to invest time, money and resources to achieve this goal. Nothing comes free and many companies whom I have interacted with, despite having the right product and people, are unwilling to make the extra effort.
I hope that changes with time and I see a wave of Indian SMEs and startups succeeding in the Europe.