Rise of an entrepreneurial India

Date:   Tuesday , September 04, 2007

As I reflect on the opportunities for India Inc, having been personally a part of the last 15 years of entrepreneurial wave, I believe India’s future lies in the hands of the entrepreneurs! For us to rise and become one of the top global economies, we need the rise of an “entrepreneurial India”. This entrepreneurial India will entail developing large networks of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who are geographically dispersed and yet are able to uniquely leverage their “eco-system” to build businesses, solve social problems, and make a global impact. India has to learn from similar eco-systems like the “Silicon Valley” which have had significant impact on the United States’ economy and competitiveness. We need to imagine a “Silicon India” where networks of entrepreneurs, engineers, and venture capitalists are collaborating across the globe to drive the entrepreneurial India. So, what is needed to make all this happen?

Enable a global professional network of Indian professionals
Organizations like TIE and SiliconIndia have set the stage for Indian professionals and entrepreneurs to connect and network with each other in a professional environment. This promotes creation of new business ideas and ventures. As a country we need many more such professional associations that are well capitalized and professionally managed to spur industries and business creations. For example, I recently saw the creation of an SSPA (Service and Support Professional Association) in India for professionals in the tech support arena. Such professional associations are great incubation grounds for new ideas and continuous improvement. As a matter of reference, there are over 27,000 professional associations in the U.S. alone. As a nation, we have to build up the professional network infrastructure.

Knowledge@India
SiliconIndia.com has recently launched online blogging, training videos, and online mentorships for its online members to share their professional knowledge and skills. All of this knowledge is available to any one with a web browser around the world. We need knowledge to be disseminated a lot more universally than to confine it to four walls of the universities or campuses, or even limit it to the desks of the knowledgeable professionals. We need IITs, IIScs, IIMs, and other leading institutions to share their knowledge online with the rest of the professional community. Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, and McKinsey are all creating knowledge banks globally, Indian universities, colleges, and pioneering consulting firms (like TCS and Infosys) need to do the same to spur learning and entrepreneurship.

Access to capital and strategic advise
Many of the entrepreneurial dreams are not realized to their full potential in the absence of access to capital and strategic advise. The Indian Government should learn from the significant role SBA (Small Business Administration) has played in the U.S. economy. SBA helped bootstrap a vibrant venture capital industry by providing capital and funds to deserving teams. While a lot of venture money is pouring into India, there is certainly room for more to accelerate our entrepreneurial and innovation driven economy.

Raising the quality bar
As I look ahead, I see that we also have to establish India as a quality brand. Cost advantages help only to the extent of creating sustainable competitive advantages. In the next decade and beyond, a lot of India’s success will depend upon how well we embrace quality in everything we do. Japan established itself as a developed economy by pioneering many of the quality concepts and marketing that effectively to rest of the world as it took on the automotive and electronics industries. India needs to do the same.
For those of us who are numerically minded, the impact of entrepreneurship on India can be significant and lasting. If we can build 10,000 global businesses with $100 million annual revenues with 1000 employees each, it is an incremental $1 trillion of GDP that is ready to raise India into a developed economy. The staggering numbers speak about the power of entrepreneurship. Enterprises and entrepreneurs built the U.S. into a world leader over the last century, and similar energy and focus on entrepreneurship can pull India also into the next league!

He can be reached at gunjan@metricstream.com