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Winter is Coming!!

Colonel Jitender Minhas, CEO, JSSATE-STEP
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Colonel Jitender Minhas, CEO, JSSATE-STEP
JSSATE STEP is a registered society under the Society Registration Act 1860. The main objectives of the society are to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and competency development in the region.

Well! This does not refer to the opening episode of the great TV serial 'Game of Thrones', and definitely not to the approaching months of December and January. These are the winters we can survive and have been surviving so far. What I refer to here is the 'Big Chill' that's coming the way of entrepreneurs and startups in India. After a whopping 43 deals worth $831 million in the month of march this year, the latest data of October at only 24 deals worth $112 million is as depressing as the peak of winters with no sun for days together. So, has the startup bubble popped? This is the question on everybody's mind.

I remember a fine gentleman in a large entrepreneurial event few months back, asking this question from the public, 'what would happen to all these startups if the VCs suddenly decided to pull out?' His prophecy does seem to be coming true after all. But we still need to answer this question, where do we go from here? Should we stop believing in the startup story? The answer is a BIG NO.

These entrepreneurs and their startups are the engines of growth for a country. Imagine if Narayana Murthy or Nandan Nilekani had just decided to work for some other company instead of starting one of their own. So many young and bright IT professionals of this country would have missed working for an 'Indian Microsoft'. An entrepreneur not only feeds himself, he feeds his employees, their families and the country! However, in the present scenario, India's startup ecosystem needs a detox to get rid of the excesses of last eighteen months and focus on building these businesses. The businesses have to stop relying on burning the investors' money to dole out freebies to attract customers. One big ingredient that is missing in these lollipop offering business plans is the 'stickiness' factor. Will the customer come back if you remove the lollipop? If not, then focus on what needs to be done to bring him back.

So far the Indian startups have relished several seasons of plenty, thanks mainly to the outpouring of the overseas money. But what the outpouring of cash has not been able to hide are some of the intrinsic weaknesses, which is , lack of top quality management, insufficient infrastructure to roll out new services and gross lack of top class mentors for the raw, first time entrepreneurs.

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