Posts tagged with: Entrepreneurship

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.