Millennium Post

Dreamers, Innovators,Billionaires and bankrupt!

Madiralaya jane ko ghar se chalta hai peene wala
Kis path se jaaun?
Asmanjas mein hai who bhola bhaala
Alag alag path batlaate sab,
Par main yah batlaata hun-
Raah pakad tu ek chala chal,
Paa jayenga Madhushala
Rebellious, reflective and resilient in his writing style, renowned Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s famous composition- Madhushala evoked admiration as well as controversy because of its radical thought process. From a total of 135 verses, the above mentioned verse can be interpreted in mentioning the significance of determination, doggedness and direction towards fulfillment of one’s objective.

Though used in the context of an alcoholic’s urge towards his wine, the relevance of these values holds importance to each individual in one way or another.

To use a better example and reflect on the present scenario, these values can be the advent of the startup culture in the country where young, talented and creative individuals witnessed a market gap, saw an opportunity for it to be filled, showed guts in its rectification, received success and thereby created a new belief system and a source of inspiration for many citizens to chase and fulfill their dreams and thereby be successful in their own right.

According to the Government of India notification the criteria for definition of startups is if the entity’s date of incorporation is up to 5 years, if its turnover does not exceed Rs 25 crores in last five financial years or if it is found to be working towards innovation, development, deployment and commercialisation of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property.

Though the entrepreneurial zeal in the country has never ceased, starting from trading merchants during the rule of kingdoms to starting of homegrown textile mills during the British ages, from boom of service delivery businesses in the 90’s to the present era where technological and digital revolution is been harnessed into various business opportunities, the startups have been able to find a greater mention.

The reasons that can be attributed for the success and quick popularity of startups can be that the entrepreneurs who have ventured into starting their business ventures have been able to discover create and serve a profitable market in quick succession through radical and new ideas.

They have been able to find international recognition, appreciation and funding because of their ability to convince international financial agencies of the  huge potential of India and the talent of its human resource involved been able to create thousands of jobs.

The major factor however for the noticeable impact of startups have been of how the youth who are either in the college, recent graduates or even drop outs have been able to accept the role of problem solvers and have been able to reap rich dividends out implementing their ideas which they believed in.

Most of the E-commerce companies which were startups about 7-8 years back were started by individuals in their late 20’s. Today in their mid 30’s most of them have become billionaires while the expansion and rise in valuation of their setup will only add to their wealth

Startups came to be associated with young and aspirational entrepreneurs. In a nation where 701 million citizens are under the age of 30, it is a symbol of India in reality shining.

Start up India came to be associated with stand up India. Unexpected huge success, hype, exposure, expectations, competition from big players and saturated market conditions seem to have now taken a toll.

Today most of the startups which have graduated into big companies owing to huge funding have still not been able to break even.

With expectations not being met, funds have dried up to most startups which have led to scaling down of their operations, massive layoffs, acquisitions and even closures.

Recently all the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) blacklisted 31 companies mostly startups from recruiting students at campus placement drives after certain prominent startups delayed their date of joining and in turn gave them an offer to join as affiliates. In one of his recent statement Kishore Biyani country’s prominent retailer made a scathing comment at the working of startups saying that 90 percent of it were not going anywhere.

So the example which is used to inspire the young India to stand up, stumbled in its race to finish?

Mentioning that there is a need of change of paradigm for the startup ecosystem and focus should be paid on product innovation than dealing with service aspects, Professor V Ramgopal Rao director IIT, Delhi says, “A lot of impatience has come in among the young entrepreneurs. The main objective seems to be making money and becoming rich than being focused on excellence and being competitive. Ultimately a successful startup depends on breakthrough innovation than imitation.”

On India’s potential of delivering in the digital and technological revolution, Prof Rao added, “Even though it is believed that our expertise is more in creation of software products than hardware products. I believe that if a proper ecosystem can be created, more time can be provided for people to develop their ideas, failures are not seen as deterrent our engineers can create Google in software sector as well as Intel in the hardware sector.”

“I believe that priorities of the startups got somewhere misplaced. The huge funding and cash flow which most of the entrepreneurs and its workers witnessed spoilt them. Rather than focusing more on creating value they focused more on other aspects which affected them adversely, “says Nilesh Aggarwal who runs his own startup firm of eMediNexus.

Highlighting that the setbacks have made most of the entrepreneurs wiser, Aggarwal added that rectifications are now been made by the startups improving technology innovation, improvement of service delivery, staying grounded and not only chasing money by getting huge funding but also getting the right kind of mentoring.

In highlighting that western models of imitation and lack of originality within startup space and not catering to localized market conditions can result in a downfall, Dr Anil Wali, Managing Director foundation for innovation and technology transfer at IIT-D says, “Some of the startups especially in the healthcare sector can take cue from the business models of Narayan Hrudalaya and Arvind eye care system.”

In mentioning that he will definitely try to create his own startup firm, Shobhit Bansal third year B Tech student at IIT Delhi says, “Why must I look only at only Silicon valley for inspiration, today I have Gurugram and Bengaluru too for inspiration.”

In order to encourage students taking up startups, IIT- D has initiated a placement deferment programme where students who are interested in launching their own startups are given a period of 2 years.

After 2 years they are again allowed to sit for their placements suppose their startup venture does not work out well.

Not only students but even the faculty members are now been encouraged to use their experience in starting their own startup ventures. In 2 years IIT-D aims to have about 10 percent of its faculty members launching their own startups. 

The challenge however still seems to be getting funding for the startup incubators.

Responding on the challenges of funding and whether the angel investors actually determine the discourse of the startup, a senior executive from KPMG said, “There has not been a single startup which graduated to unicorn and later became a listed company which did not face hurdles. 

Take Google’s example there was a time where for long there were no advertising revenues and profits which were coming however the founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were committed that first them will have to enhance their search technology and be the best at it. It has to be noted that Google were not the first search engine but then the founder did it better.”

To consider that startups are only the domain of IIT’s and best campuses of the country is also a wrong notion. Aged only 18 years Sirhaan Seth has launched his startup on September 1, 2016

Named SMS Contraceptive it is a 24 hour runner service that delivers condoms, emergency contraceptive pills and even pregnancy tests.

When asked from the 18 year old what his advice will be for the budding entrepreneurs, Sirhaan says, “Believe in your instincts, if you have an idea which you really feel for, just go for it.”

Impatient optimist is been used to describe the world’s richest man Bill Gates who founded Microsoft.

It is impatience, optimism, stubbornness and audacity to one’s idea which ultimately has resulted in dreamers turning into innovators and innovators into billionaires. There will be ocean of uncertainties (abundhi) but it can be sailed across with strength in your dreams. A sentiment put by Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s following words.

Aaj apne swapn ko sacchh banana chaahata hoon
Door ki iss kalpna ke paas jaana chaahta hoon.

"The youth seems impatient. Their main objective is to make money and become richer than being focused on excellence and being competitive. A successful startup depends on breakthrough innovation than imitation- 
Prof V R Rao, Director, IIT delhi

"I believe that priorities of the startups got somewhere misplaced. The huge funding and cash flow which most of the entrepreneurs and its workers witnessed spoilt them. They focused more on other aspects"- Nilesh Aggarwal, EMediNexus (STARTUP)

"There has not been a single startup which graduated to unicorn and later became a listed company which did not face hurdles. Take Google’s example, where the founders were committed to enhance their search technology senior executive"KPMG
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