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New wave of entrepreneurs in India

Dr. Deepak B. Phatak
Monday, May 2, 2005
Dr. Deepak B. Phatak
A lot has been written in the recent past on the success stories of Indian entrepreneurship, and rightly so, considering very encouraging trends seen all around. Being the harbinger of change, the charge is led by the IT sector startups. Having worked actively in this scenario, I am penning down my thoughts on the way forward.

To begin with, a little background is in order. Entrepreneurship is not new either to India or to Indians. It is just that the economic policies that we practiced for several decades after freedom did not encourage wealth generation through innovative development, specially, of new technologies.

Thus large number of entrepreneurs in India concentrated their energies essentially on trading—and they did use all kinds of innovative practices! Those afflicted with that creative bug continued to make attempts, often succeeding in technology innovation but not in the attendant wealth generation.

Many however, left the nation—and presto—several of them succeeded in both! After 1991, in what I call the re-born India, wealth generation is again increasingly being regarded as something to be proud of, and not to be ashamed of when it is done legally and ethically. A rapid situational transition is now permitting this second breed of people, the generation-next India to boldly, openly, and successfully embark on entrepreneurial careers with global ambitions.

Academic Institutions, specially the engineering and management Institutions can and should play a far greater role in the process of transforming R&D to product/ technology to a successful company. IIT Bombay, India has been a pioneer in Indian IT business incubation within academia, thanks to generous support from Kanwal Rekhi and Nandan Nilekini, and from many distinguished TiE charter members and VCs visiting, advising, and encouraging the young start-ups. We have now set up a Society for INnovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) with a primary goal to allow the faculty, students and alumni of the Institute to convert research into products and into successful companies in all fields, not just in IT.

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