The Global Entrepreneur
Date: Wednesday , May 06, 2009
Though entrepreneurship existed in all fields; Silicon Valley, given its culture of ‘Constructive Destruction’, defined the actual risk taking, since it involved breakthrough technologies and disruptive business models for a winner to make a mark. But the rapid growth of Internet has led to the emergence of world-class entrepreneurs, such as the ones in the past decade, in countries like India and China. Both these countries have shown enormous technical capabilities, the ‘can do’ attitude and the willingness to try, fail, and succeed. Earlier, in the absence of local market opportunities, entrepreneurs had to struggle and find customers from distant places. But today, the BRIC countries are creating their own business platforms with varied price points since the same is not attainable with the traditional innovation models led from the U.S.
Today a significant local talent base exists that, over the past decade, has become very sophisticated especially in the telecom (wireless in particular), IT, pharma, and energy industries. The opportunities are enormous for the entrepreneurs who ‘think global but act local’. Ratan Tata coined a completely different terminology for ‘innovation with a frugal design’ called Nano that has become the norm. Some recent examples of the innovations by such ‘hungry entrepreneurs’ that have changed the economics upside down in established and emerging markets include the emergence of cloud computing, Netbooks, profitable $4 ARPU telecom companies, $2,000 cars, micro finance, and alternate energy to name a few. These models are built on the pioneering work done by the IT companies that had earlier changed the economic model. Remarkably, the new models are built at a fraction of the cost of the original business model.
Now let us have a look at what it takes to succeed in these markets and I will use India as an example, given my familiarity and active engagement in that market.
Entrepreneurship ecosystem is not fully developed in most markets like Silicon Valley and Boston. But with venture capitalists and TiE local chapters forming seed funds in several markets (examples - Bangalore and Chennai) funded by local entrepreneurs, they provide a platform for mentorship and risk capital for testing those ideas.
The return of several entrepreneurs who have had success, provide another crucial platform for seed funding and active participation with entrepreneurs on a day-to-day basis on go-to-market and enabling global alliances.
Dedicated research parks attached to educational institutions like the IIT and Anna University (www.au-kbc.org) provide access to scientific and technical capabilities in a variety of areas.
World-class management institutions like the IIMs, ISB, and Great Lakes Institute of Management with their active entrepreneurship programs, seed management graduates into thinking along the lines of risk taking and entrepreneurship as a viable opportunity.
Incubators also provide another avenue for entrepreneurs to test their ideas quickly before approaching funds.
Look at the opportunities that take advantage of local markets but can be applicable globally.
Enormous funds offered by the government for fostering innovation in recent years can be tapped by entrepreneurs.
Look for models that have local relevance through application of technologies, for example, creating new supply chains for farm to retail optimization, tapping the surplus income of the middle class through entertainment, leisure activities, and more.
In sum, global entrepreneurship has significantly expanded the opportunity over the past decade and most out-of-the-box thinking will be from emerging markets and will find their way towards developed world.
He is the CEO and Chairman of Jamcracker, a company he founded in 1999. He is also the co- founder and Chairman of e4e Inc., a global business process outsourcing company.