If you are an entrepreneur, or aspire to be one, now is your time. This is true, regardless of where in the world you live or your nationality. However, if you are an Indian, you may be headed for some great times. Right now, India is fertile ground for entrepreneurs. The Economic Survey 2021-22 reported that India had created 83 unicorns, 44 of which were in 2021. Let’s put that in perspective: That is one new unicorn every 8.3 days. In the first 40 days of 2022, India had produced 8 new unicorns. That’s one every 5 days. “The number of new recognized start-ups have increased to over 14,000 in 2021-22 from only 733 in 2016-17,” said the Economic Survey. “As a result, India has become the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world after the US and China.”
If you are in your 40s, you are even better off. Research by Wharton management professor J. Daniel Kim, shows that between 2007 and 2014, a massive majority of entrepreneurs in the US were in their 40s. It is almost certain that a global survey will show that the trend has spread from the US to other parts of the world, including India.
If you have been watching Shark Tank India, whose first season just concluded on SonyLIV, you already know this: The chances of signing a term sheet in 15 minutes are extremely high. Shark Tank India featured pitches by start-up founders of every age and background—from savvy IoT specialists to farmers with earthy wisdom. There were a total of 198 pitches made to a bunch of interesting investors during season one. Entrepreneurs pitched ideas ranging from e-bikes to metaverse apps and anti-suicidal fan rods to livestock monitoring apps. A total of 67 ideas got funding. That’s almost 1 in every 3 ideas that walked away with a term sheet. I can’t say I liked the sets or the format of Shark Tank India, but who am I to complain if 67 start-up dreams were given a chance to become reality?
The start-up environment is so vibrant and healthy that in mid-February, Anand Mahindra funded a motorized bicycle based on a video forwarded to him on Signal. “It’s not inevitable that this will succeed commercially or be substantially profitable, but I still would feel proud to be an investor,” said Mahindra, seeking help on Twitter to be connected with the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs can now rely on the pure passion of investors in India fueling their ideas – something that didn’t exist 15 years ago. All this is ample evidence that the Golden Era of Entrepreneurship has well and truly dawned.
Perhaps the pandemic has triggered innovation and is fueling the entrepreneurial tsunami. Analyst reports say that France saw 84,000 new businesses being registered in October 2020, a 20% increase from the same month in 2019. There were 1.5 million applications for new businesses in the US in the third quarter of 2020, double the numbers for the same period in 2019. This story closely repeats itself across the UK, Germany, Japan. Perhaps public policy has made it easier for entrepreneurs to test themselves. Perhaps there is a global movement towards seeking independence from the grind of corporate life (the Great Resignation). I believe it is a combination of all these factors. However, the most important factor behind this staggering growth in entrepreneurship is the availability of cheap technology and great talent.
Large enterprises will beg to differ. Where is the cheap technology, they will ask? And, as every corporate honcho complains, there is a frightening paucity of talent. But what large enterprises (still) lack is the mindset of an entrepreneur. If they operated from the shoes of an entrepreneur, they would see the big shift in creating opportunities:
Unlike the ’80s and the ’90s, businesses need not acquire expensive licenses. They need not capture markets and set up monopolies. The bold new start-ups are ready to pursue entirely unheard-of categories of business. The anti-suicidal fan rods presented on Shark Tank India is one such example. Large, mainstream manufacturers of ceiling fans would not think of this product. But the entrepreneurs on Shark Tank India got funded for it.
There is a huge amount of feature-rich free software that is available. To begin with, there is Open Source to lean on. Linux powered 75% of the public cloud workload in 2020. Its share is forecasted to rise to 85% by 2024. A significant 85% of the world’s phones operate on Android, which is open source. Want enterprise-grade CRM tools to organize and address customers? Try the free tools at HubSpot. You can always migrate to the paid versions, but free is good to start with.
Don’t hire anyone full time until you can afford it (or need to). There are crowdsourcing platforms like TopCoder used by organizations like Microsoft, Macy’s, Honeywell and Xerox. You too can draw data scientists, developers, and designers from similar platforms to meet your needs. The idea is to get the job done without the overhead of maintaining a workforce. You can crowdsource any talent you want, ranging from product testing to data categorization, marketing and sales; and should you need to, you can even recruit talent and run HR processes once the funding comes in!
I am almost convinced that ideas have been commoditized. For every Uber, there is an Ola, a Meru, or a Lyft somewhere in the world. For every Zomato, there is a Swiggy, a Box8, and a FoodPanda somewhere in the world. For every Paytm there is a Razorpay, an Instmojo, and an Ingenico somewhere in the world. On the other hand, in contrast to ideas, execution is an art. It is the key to success. Execution determines who wins between an Ola and a Meru, between a Paytm and a Razorpay. Every entrepreneur knows this. Today, they have everything available—from funding to technology, from talent to market access—to execute aggressively and with confidence. It makes me believe that we will see the rise of another 8 unicorns in India in the next 40 days. Maybe 30.
The author is Microland’s Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, setting the foundation for excellence as Microland guides enterprises in adopting nextGen technologies to achieve the highest possible levels of reliability, stability, and predictability.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.