Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Early Entrepreneur: Better be sorry than safe

You might have read the earlier article on evolving early entrepreneurship and why India needs it.   Here it is, in case you have not been able to.


Let's look at the profile of that early entrepreneur.  He would be about 20-23, past adolescence, learning or discovering the early part of adulthood.   This discovery or learning is what we want to tap into.  The recklessness as they may call, is what we want to leverage, the try and try.  As Mark Twain says ' “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Better sorry, than safe. 
Be reckless, take risks -coz you are young!

As this quote says '“Start a business while you are young. You have few commitments and are used to living off Ramen Noodles.” —Dr. Sebora.  And as we have discovered the lesser the commitments, the more risk one can take.

So, the best age for risk taking ( because of less commitments and the recklessness of the age) is why this is the time to become an entrepreneur.

Another aspect is how the ideas spring.  In India, we have seen a great growth in services sector.  We employ more than hundred of thousands of young graduates, especially in the IT and BPO sector - a phenomenon of the last two decades .  We have delivered these services, first leveraging cost arbitrage, then defining processes, that is a structured way of doing services.  It has helped build a value system that deliver these services more efficiently and effectively.  The growth of Indian IT sector, for example, has created more jobs than any other industry in the last decade.  However, services tend become auxiliary, meaning, it is always an augmenting aspect and never addressing the 'core' of the issue.  To make things work, you need tools and tackles - meaning products.
Ideas... products than services!

Look at how IBM and Accenture work.  Broadly, IBM has a consulting arm, which has domain experts, who understand business problems - but IBM also has products or solutions, that can address them.  Accenture or any other consulting- services organization, on the other hand can render a solution, but the tools and tackles are still borrowed.  My personal opinion, therefore is that a customer is more likely to look at IBM for a complete solution - from concept to commissioning.

The Indian IT services companies, even though they have products like Finacle by Infosys or Bancs by TCS, still have not ventured into the product-solution space.   They have the capability to integrate systems, but the center piece is still that of somebody else's.   Products provide tangible solution to a business problem.  That is why every product is patented, as a tangible Intellectual Property.   Now, IBM has more patents than entire India has - across the board.  That is why , India does not have organizations of that scale like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle to name of a few, in spite of being a leader in the IT industry.  We have more hands than anybody else in the world, but to make an idea to a product, and then to scale, is very much missing.

In this context, consider the early entrepreneur.  He/ she is more likely to evolve a product idea, which is more tangible than a service idea, which is more abstract.  And that is what we would want to foster, don't we?
Ronnie, an entrepreneurship evangelist

There is increasing focus around creating entrepreneurs out of young India, one such being the revered Ronnie Screwvala, a person I follow since I met him about 18 months back.   This is in spite of the government's lack of support to foster entrepreneurship - especially in sunrise industries.  India is ranked 132nd in terms of ease of doing business index.

But, it is clear, to me at least, more than ever before that this presents a clear and present opportunity.   If you are keen to start and if you have a product idea, we are here to foster them.   Again, if you are young, better be sorry, than be safe. 

If you are interested, please write to

- Ashok Speaks 



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