The growing trend of entrepreneurship in India, from a dedicated ministry to rise of upcoming unicorns.
Often I am asked a common question by almost everyone around me, that Yatin why do you do so much of social work and charity. Whats in it for you? How do you make money? Are you an investor?Are you an incubator? While many think I am just traveling the world without doing much of real work, others think I am a millionaire splurging cash traveling around the world.
Ecosystem builder is my answer to that, however 99.5% do not understand much about it.
I would usually pass all comments with a smile. Today I am narrating my journey of November 2015, a month which surely changed my life.
It was mid November when I took the flight to Mexico after a great launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015 in Delhi by the Minister of Entrepreneurship Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy at one of our partners event. Post that I went to a university to share my journey and talk about entrepreneurship to some management students hosted by Young Indians (Yi) Delhi chapter. There was excitement yet nervousness, as I was leaving Delhi for over 40 days to Mexico followed by United States. Though the energy was high as usual, this was not just another trip. This was my time to be cut off from work as well as India for 40 days. A trip which would change my life, but how and in what sense was yet to be discovered.
With Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) happening around the world, I was all set to discover Latin America with my first stop at Mexico City. After hearing so much about the city from some close friends and colleagues, I finally got to experience it. As soon as I landed in Mexico, it reminded me of India with its hospitality, as well as the income disparity between the rich, middle class and the poor. Interestingly inspite of being next door neighbour of US, development and access to capital has been very limited in the country, with handful of VC’s and maximum investment not exceeding $50mn in a single company over the last few years. However, the infrastructure was good, smooth roads, good buildings and some amazing coworking spaces like Startup Mexico’s (SUM) campus in the city. I was fortunate to be representing India on a 5 continent panel discussion, and realised we surely are much ahead in the game as compared to some of the most developed and developing markets around the world. Our hundreds of million dollar startup rounds and some of the billion dollar e-tailer stories have been popular, while others like PayTM, OYO rooms and Urban Clap were never even heard by them. It was surely motivating to see that somewhere we were moving in the right direction and we leading the race with our experience, innovations and knowledge.
After 2 days its Mexico City, it was time to head to Monterrey an industrial town located towards the North Eastern side of Mexico with a close proximity to the state of Texas in United States. Monterrey was hosting our annual summit of Startup Nations, an initiative of Global Entrepreneurship Network supported by Kauffman Foundation to engage and support policy makers in different countries on strengthening their initiatives around entrepreneurship. This summit was hosted by INADEM, Mexico’s most premier institution to promote entrepreneurship across Mexico. This was my third SNS after Kuala Lumpur and Seoul last year. Startup Nations currently comprises of over 60 nations comprising of both government agencies as well as private organisations like mine. We were the only ones to represent India.
This summit has been the most insightful for me, and started changing my approach towards entrepreneurship development, since it was taken too lightly in India, until recently before we started hearing some success stories out of India. The major topic of discussion amongst our group was to understand the reason of startup boom.
Is it the sexiness of entrepreneurship due to success stories or the need of entrepreneurs to solve some real problems?What is the reason for growth in entrepreneurship?
For me personally it was the latter, primarily due to the need to solve our local problems, develop our cities and create sufficient jobs to keep our rapidly growing and energetic youth population engaged on something which keeps them excited, motivated and closer to their home towns. I am not sure, how many would understand its impact, but the ones who do will definitely support this.
Each country has its unique way to solve their problems, some have to fight local social issues, for some its about revival of their economies and cities, while for others its about bringing the next generation of innovators together. I had the opportunity to spend time with some key government officials from Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia and South Korea to name a few, in understanding their approach towards entrepreneurship, understand about startup visa initiatives, e-biz registration process, startup competitions and policies around tax exemption for entrepreneurs and investors.
The most promising and motivating feedback for me was the popularity of our Prime Minister and some of our key initiatives including $2bn startup capital allocated in last years financial budget which is getting deployed through various state governments across the country.
A few big developments of 2015 from India included state initiatives by states like Rajasthan to draft their own startup act and allocate around $100mn to support startups in their state. I have also heard that other states are drafting new policies such as Government of AP, Telangana as well as Punjab. With Central Government’s initiative to develop a separate ministry for entrepreneurship through Entrepreneurship Minister Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy and local initiatives by some of the state CM’s including enterprising Mr Chandrababu Naidu and Mrs Vasundhara Raje Scindia, we would surely see India emerging as a strong entrepreneurship nation in the coming 3-5 years.
The best development of my trip to Mexico was formation of Asian Startup Exchange Program where in countries including South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and India would try to have regional exchange programs between their countries to provide new market access and exposures to their local startups.
Most of my fellow colleagues have taken a promise from me for a formal invitation to India to understand more about the diversity and the growing startup culture. I am looking forward to hosting them hopefully in 2016.
I am heading to San Francisco for Thanksgiving before I start my next set of journey for IVLP. Stay tuned…