Monthly Archives: July 2012

Why are more IITians not entrepreneurs?

Because a large part of it, is an utter waste of time and energy.

Running a business in India is boring. The major challenges are not the technology and the market, but the regulators and the government. Even after the recent reforms that tried to end the License-Raj, we are still very much stuck in the mud. One major hindrance is that there is no straightforward way to even survive. As much as we like to believe that India is an untapped market ripe for the next generation of global market leaders to establish their bases at, we also have to realize that for that to happen we need the process as smooth as possible. And we have to do it in a way that doesn’t ask people to bend their  morals at every step. No only is just too much paperwork but the speed of clearances is dependently largely if not entirely on the ethical compromises that you are willing to make. Of course, many call it the Indian way of innovation – jugaad, I call it bullshit. The story is old, well known and accounted for by all of us. That is one of the prime reasons we are neither willing to jump in the gutter, not even to clean it.

One additional hurdle is that the money is still with the traditional players. There are the giant whales that dominate the market place. Such large concentrations of money usually drive innovation. Unfortunately, it is impossibly hard to convince them to experiment. Efforts are largely centered around maintaining the status quo. Breaking it, is considered unnecessary.

Doing traditional business is tricky, obviously. But modern platforms are not very better. Someone somewhere (on Hacker News actually) commented that the only easy place to do business in India, is on the internet. Let me warn you, it is not that easy as at the end of the day the business is to be done on paper as well. Additionally, people are still just starting to trust online banking. Payment gateways are strikingly ugly and fault intolerant. As much as I, as a lazy customer, want to avoid physical money – I still have this rational doubt in my mind that the transaction will fail and I will lose the money. Most people will be more orthodox than me, making even this platform less lucrative than it should be.

Believe me when I say that as IITians we have been trained to think that only two types of people are cool – people who do marvelous research and win awards that majority of Indians have not heard of (No, we will not win you Nobel Prize – we are not in that field) and people who built great companies against all odds. But, we also know that we would rather do innovative work in a decent firm and get paid for it proportionally, than do stupid grunt work and jugaad our way through nepotism and bribery.

However those who are still doing it, are doing it well. For example, Flipkart is killing the competition, in a good way. If you want more of us to be entrepreneurial, make it a more lucrative option by reducing the friction between new ideas and traditional systems that are well established in our country. Give us a way to do things legally and morally, so that we have a good night sleep after a day worth of actual innovative work. If we just change the atmosphere, I am sure we will find many people taking the leap, not just IITians.

Of Constants and Variables

Time has come to bid goodbyes. So, goodbye!

No, no. I am not mourning. Actually, I am not the type to mourn over goodbyes, so I will not be doing that. I would rather cheer at this sudden coarse filtering of friends, valuable from situational, and I will hope that you will too. Time has come to determine who will have a constant presence  in your life and who will become a memory constantly fading and being replaced by newer, more recent events that are yet to come.

Don’t get me wrong though, because people often do it to people who make such heartless arguments. They often appears to be mean and selfish. Well, I don’t mean it that way. I have respected every friend I have met here. They all will have a significant and often visible impact on how I will see my life and live it. It is that just these barriers, like graduation and relocation, help us separate the constants from the variables. You and I may forever be friends and still never meet again.

This is a new thing that I learnt here. You might have learnt something very different. But all of us have learnt a few lessons. I think I have changed a lot. Life here has shaken some of the beliefs that I had considered unshakable while reinforcing many others. Quite a few lessons were learnt but never put into practice, some others practised but never ingrained in mind. However what I will cherish the most, is the sense of belonging that this community imparts to everyone. Everyone is equally unique and crazy, and yet everyone was the same. It is quite irrational and naive, this feeling, and very similar to tribal instincts of regionalism or nationalism. It is there and it is very soothing.

I know we all are making these crazy plans of get togethers and yearly tours; plans that will most probably fall prey to the higher, more worldly ambition of overachieving in our jobs and our businesses. But these plans are worth it. They are reminiscences of the little childishness that is left in us. Stuff that will make us happy and sad in future, instead of just proud and disappointed. We are yet to start seeing the crossroads where our priorities will be tested, but the time is nearer than ever. While we will be giving everything we have to our professional lives with all the saved rigour, passion and energy that has went underutilized in the laid back culture we enjoyed for the last few years. Soon we will be deciding what our ultimate goals are, and what are the expendables. We all will be happy to some level and will have a few regrets, for it’s human to have both. We will have plans that will works, and plans that will not. I just hope that more of you will be part of my future plans that I am planning for.