Entrepreneurship in India

By Ram Shriram
Published in the Economic
Times, January 2005 There is a palpable desire and
great ambition amongst the
entrepreneurs in India to build
leading, global businesses. We
have seen this vision executed
in the services sectors where entrepreneurs have taken
advantage of India’s depth of
educated talent to offer world-
class services with consistent
high quality, on time delivery
and lower prices. The time has now come for this same vision
to manifest itself in India’s
consumer sector with the
creation of world-class
consumer oriented companies
with a reliance on technology to help scale the business. India’s sustained economic
growth has helped develop a
middle class that is educated,
discerning and ready to
consume. This translates into a
vibrant and growing domestic market that is ready to be
served by a new breed of
technology-enabled consumer
focused enterprises. As an
early member and student of
companies such as Google, Amazon and Netscape the
opportunity to work with such
budding entrepreneurs to
develop businesses that can
grow from serving an
emerging domestic market to serving the global consumer
will be both fun and exciting. The following are some
thoughts that can help
entrepreneurs navigate the
early stages of starting a
business. Understand the market Entrepreneurs should be clear
about the market space they
are entering. Define the size of
the market, the current
competitors and any barriers
to entry. Market sizing is often a difficult step in new
industries as it can be hard to
determine a figure that clearly
states the size of the market.
Entrepreneurs should build a
“top down” as well as “bottoms up” model to
understand the scale of the
opportunity. A top down
model estimates the overall
size of the existing industry
and then tries to estimate the portions of that market that
can be served by the new
offering. A bottoms up model,
starts from the actual service
offering and tries to estimate
the number of consumers that will adopt the new service and
therefore the revenues that
will be generated. As you
assess the market potential be
sure to determine the
competitive points of differentiation and articulate
the clear benefits to the
consumer. Try to identify
technology based competitive
differentiators. Build your team around the
consumer pain points Clearly articulate the pain
points. Entrepreneurs should
be intimately familiar with the
drivers in the industry, the
consumer pain points and the
trends that are influencing change within the sector. In
order to thoroughly
understand the sector,
entrepreneurs should actively
speak to people who work in
the industry and perform a limited test with consumers to
elicit their feedback. As you
begin to understand the
consumer value, use this data
to build the product or service
proposition. Ensure that you build the knowledge and
expertise in your team to
effectively address the
consumer pain. Vision without execution is
worthless Execution is key. While you
may be able to size a market,
articulate a vision and rally a
team around an idea, day-to-
day execution is what creates
value. This is not a small or easy task and can often be an
entrepreneur’s biggest test of
courage, commitment and
conviction. Starting a business
is not for the faint at heart.
Entrepreneurs must define early and often the reasons
why they believe they will be
successful and continue to
organize their team around the
execution needs. That alone
will help them attain their goals. As you go through these
early stages of building the
business obsess about the
customer and ensure that your
first customers are happy, and
become strong word of mouth advocates of your proposition –
it is always more expensive to
try to win over a lost customer
than it is to retain a customer. Closing thoughts Being an entrepreneur is a
great opportunity to build
something that impacts
people’s lives in a positive way.
It provides you with a sense of
freedom, accomplishment and an ability to control your own
destiny. As you set out down
this path remember to be
passionate about your idea and
focus on the details of
execution. Keep your ego in check and manage your team
through inspiration, not fear.
As you bring people on in the
early stages remember that
the DNA of the founders is the
DNA of the company, so pick your team carefully and set an
example for all to follow. We are very excited and proud
to be in India and to play a role
in building the next generation
of leading global businesses.

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