From Jugaad to Invention.

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Start-up companies are generally thought about to be cool places to work for; a highly ventilated office space where you come in your jeans and Tee and sip coffee and eat Maggi and continue with your work. They are associated as places where lot of brainstorming happens, where there is plenty of energy, activity and idea generation, a young workforce and long yet enjoyable work hours and immense satisfaction and joy at each small progress made. In a way these are the companies that are going to fuel the imagination of the young minds of the nation. With almost 10 million jobs to be created in the next decade for India to be able to reap the demographic dividend, most of the activity, beats and buzz will have to come from these emerging start-ups.

With a middle generation that has already crossed most of the hurdles of life and have slogged and saved enough for their immediate progeny, the youth of today are not reluctant to taking up risks and venturing out alone to set up their tents in vast field of corporate houses. Unlike yesteryears the youth of today tend to find support and help from their family and friends when they decide on being entrepreneurs. This positive change in mentality among many of the Indians including those in their middle ages and who have worked in the government sector for a lifetime is a positive sign and will help India build its own Silicon Valley.

A second positive social sign that gives hope for the spirit of entrepreneurship in India is the encouragement that colleges show in promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship among students. Many of the leading institutes like IIM-A, IIT-B and other private universities like SRM have their own incubation centres that give seed funding to budding student entrepreneurs who come up with innovative ideas and prototypes. There are also other organizations like National Entrepreneurship Workshop (NeN) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) that provide mentorship and help find funding for exciting new entrepreneurial avenues and innovative products. The media has also played a significant role by highlighting the growth and achievements of various start-ups in India.

While the IT hub of India, Bangalore has risen as of now as the Silicon Valley or hub of Indian entrepreneurs due to the abundance of talented human capital and moderately sufficient infrastructure and administration, other cities like Pune, Chennai and Delhi are not far behind. Mumbai often loses in the race because of the high costs of operating from the financial hub. Yet all these cities are today are breeding grounds for many small companies that have just started their life. Bangalore alone has over 800 start-up enterprises operating from the city.
Emergence of new frontiers in sciences like biotech, nanotech, clean energy and advances in technology like cloud computing services and popularity of social media and the internet have opened avenues for many start-ups to mushroom in these sectors.

Many companies that started in India a few years ago have today grown into fully matured firms. The likes of these include Flipkart, Redbus, Justdial etc. The survival of so many start-ups show that the Indian entrepreneurial environment is warming up and being conducive for the growth of small organizations.
Today the average time for incorporating a company in India is 27 days compared to the 30 days four years ago. (According to world bank data – http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IC.REG.DURS) The government is also trying to further reduce this time by using internet as a medium for registration of companies. The government too in its 2013 union budget highlighted the necessity of helping start-ups prosper as a tool for reviving the slowing economy and has eased clauses for many SMEs.

All said and done, while the entrepreneurship environment in India has improved since the days of liberalization of the economy, much needs to be done to ensure that more people, who are resourceful and innovative, get adequate funding and mentoring to venture along their dream path of entrepreneurship. Mentoring plays a crucial part in the success of start-ups and therefore having incubation centres and other organizations that provide entrepreneurial guidance is necessary. Hassles in the incorporation of companies have to be kept at the bare minimum and tax and other benefits should be provided to help them grow and survive in the tough world.

Improvements in infrastructure like continuous uninterrupted power supply, efficient transport networks etc. are essential to help businesses thrive. The Indian infrastructure often deters even Indians from setting up their units/offices in the country. The government should work on this matter to resolve issues of land acquisition, construction of buildings, power shortage issues, bottlenecks in transport modes and various other deterrents of an ideal entrepreneurial climate. Tax incentives to growing companies and establishment of Special Economic Zones will also help brighten up the environmental climate.

Availability of and accessibility to financial resources to start an enterprise should also be made easier and quicker. It is a positive indicator that today we have many more venture capitalists and angel investors than twenty years before. But traditional sources of funds like banks still are averse to giving loans to entrepreneurs, sometimes even to established entrepreneurs. The cost of doing business in the country is also increasing, with rising wages and interest rates. If these factors are not monitored and kept in control, it can affect the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation.

Our education infrastructure also needs to get a fresh breath of air as rote learning and marks-based examinations that determine a student’s fate forever are stopping the children from dreaming and being creative and innovative. Most schools and colleges in India still prefer students who follow the norms and do not ask questions. Only if our education system is revamped will our country be able to move forward from its ‘jugaad’ mechanisms to innovations that can be patented and commercialized. And this will help sow the seeds of entrepreneurship as more and more innovators would want to make a living out their inventions. Schools and colleges can also mentor and fund students as they work on their ideas. School projects and assignments should be modelled in such a way that students are encouraged to think creatively and out-of-the box. The government should also help and support incubation centres in schools and college through monetary aid, tie-up with government research organizations and exchange programmes between countries.
Indians have by nature been entrepreneurial. A recent survey by NSSO said that almost 60% percentage of our working population is self-employed. This includes small restaurant owners, wayside shoe vendors, chai-wallahs etc. The challenge today is how to bring them into the formal structure and to help them scale-up their businesses. This requires the combined efforts of the administration, existing successful entrepreneurs and other stakeholders involved. The spark of entrepreneurship has already been ignited in the minds of the young people; if a conducive environment is provided, this spark can be turned to a big fire that will fuel the dreams, ambitions and needs of the country and its citizens.

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