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May - 2008 - issue > Mixed Bag
Wanna-marry-me?
Jayakishore Bayadi
Sunday, May 4, 2008
When Siva Prasad Cotipalli, 24, quit Oracle as a Marketing Manager to found his own startup, his mother was more concerned about Siva’s marriage prospects than the feasibility of his business idea. Because in India most parents always look for stability, salary, and marriage prospects for their children from their job. “They are skeptical about entrepreneurship and such other adventures,” says Cotipalli, Cofounder, Dhanax, a five-person, six months old Internet-based micro-lending startup in Bangalore.

Probably, that’s the reason why a typical Indian bride will think twice before accepting a marriage proposal by an entrepreneur. Even in matrimonial columns you rarely get to see grooms ‘working in a startup’. Of course, founding your own company may be exciting, challenging, and remunerative. But how will your parents, would be in-laws, and the bride view your venture? Beware! Here, founding a startup or even working for startups could be ‘Risky’ to your marriage prospects, as people may prefer to see names like IBM, Wipro, or Infosys on your business card!
India is a country where still collectivism rules. Over 200 years of subjugation has taken its toll not only on the nation but also the individual. Hence, the elder generation is still reluctant towards any ‘adventures’ by their children, an attitude that reflects when it comes to marriage as well. Since most marriages are arranged in India, parents’ opinions about employment matter a lot. “There’s a lot of social pressure,” agrees Sridhar G, CEO and Founder, Yulop, an eight months old Internet product startup focused on building City Centric Web Portals.

“One of my friends in Hyderabad who runs a startup literally struggled to convince parents of his would-be bride,” quips Sridhar. This is because present generation has greater exposure to global scenario than the older generation. “So, it’s obvious that elders are skeptical,” notes Thiyagarajan M, 26, CEO and Co-founder of Motvik, a Mobile media startup in Bangalore. Also, “Social pressure in terms of colleagues getting higher salaries or pursuing advanced degrees and that being compared repeatedly by all are the other faces of the social pressure.” he adds.

Moreover, there is a compulsion from the society to work in larger companies even though young geeks love to work in a startup. In India we are taught to become an engineer or doctor. So, the system doesn’t allow you to think beyond your aspirational life. “When I fell in love with a girl who was my colleague in a startup, her parents were apprehensive of marrying off their daughter to a person like me,” remembers Kiruba Shankar, CEO of Business Blogging, a social media consultancy.

Nevertheless, as a parent it is common concern to know about what the would-be son-in-law is doing. “Since the market is so vibrant or volatile sometimes, and even bigger companies are struggling to have their share of pie nowadays, I have to wait and see how his venture goes,” says Dr.Sadashiva Bhat, a retired Medical Practitioner in Mangalore. “It’s safer to marry off my daughter to a well settled man,” he adds.

However, the new generation is not hesitating to take risk. Many of the geeks admit that their friends or girl friends are very much supportive of their venture. Prashanth Vaibhav Mishra, 24,Cofounder of Dhanax, owes his success completely to his girl friend. “She understands my dreams and endeavors,” he admits. Not only girl friends, even friends can be a source of motivation opines Ashish Solanki, 22, Co-founder and Web lead at Yulop, “New age buddies are more than just friends.”

In essence, the Indian society is still lacking in inculcating an attitude of ‘rugged individualism,’ which was the reason behind the prosperity of countries like the U.S.A. Is it essential to sacrifice one’s personal life to fulfill his passion and dreams? Does he really have to forfeit one thing to achieve another thing? Why there is nobody to support one’s risk taking appetite? These questions always haunt an Indian entrepreneur. “As such, I would only think that the younger generation wouldn’t face resistance of this kind when it begins its adventures in the next 5-10 years,” opines PVG Menon, President and CEO, VANN consulting. Yet, there are dreamers who follow the unwritten rules that were followed by legends in the field — if you really wanna do it, just do it. The rest will follow by itself!

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