Since independence, India’s entrepreneurs have struggled with decades of stifling policies, bureaucratic red tape and poor funding opportunities. In his book “Restart”, Mihir Sharma jokes about the absurdity and corruption present in that bygone era. For example, businesses were required to keep an abstract of the 1948 Factories Act at hand. Sharma quips, stating “Hand it over (the abstract) to a visiting labour inspector, give him a moment to reflect and he will find a violation.”
However, it seems we’ve come a long way since then. The wave of computing and IT services blossoming in Bangalore paved the way in the 80s. The 90s brought in the liberalisation of the economy and by the start of the 21st century, mobile and broadband connectivity increased exponentially. Fast forward to the present, and we have created new possibilities in every sector from banking to e-commerce. The surging population once seen as a detriment to progress is now considered as an advantage and segmented into consumer groups. With the Central Statistics office pegging the current GDP growth at 7.1%, we are the fastest growing economy in the world. Still, as a nation, we’ve barely scratched the surface of our potential.
Aiming to capitalise on this potential, a new breed of entrepreneurs have entered the arena markedly different from their predecessors. Earlier, apart from knowing how to run a business, being a successful entrepreneur would entail hailing from a mercantile family, with strong connections to the local political class and adequate financial backing. This is no longer the case. The entrepreneur of today is a technologically savvy young adult with a vision and determination to back it up.
It should come as no surprise that over, the past decade or so, India has had a vibrant startup culture. Apart from providing services worldwide, a crop of these new age entrepreneurs is looking home and thinking about making the local market better. When it comes to online businesses, there are Indian counterparts to the global ones. Flipkart is India’s answer to Amazon, and Ola rivals Uber. However, India is a unique marketplace with its own set of challenges and needs homegrown solutions from food delivery, payment wallets, online pharmacies catering to the diverse market segments in the country.
Today, many of these startups have transformed into “unicorns”, businesses that are valued at $1 billion or more. And of the 175 global unicorns, only 9 are from India. However, there are more to come.
In a bid to kindle the entrepreneur spirit, DS Group in partnership with Network18 have launched “The Venture”, a reality series calling on all aspiring entrepreneurs to present their innovative business idea for a chance to raise a maximum of Rs 1 crore and an extensive mentorship by industry titans.