The entire human history and anthropology is full of evidences as to how intelligent human beings have given rise to new technology and how they utilized that new technology to further our chances of survival. The technological development has reached such a phase now where human survival is something which is taken for granted. The enormous size of human population is a testimony to that fact. If it wasn’t for the newer drugs and equipments and procedures we would have still been dying of minor diseases like diarrhea. This is just one example as to how deep an impact the new inventions and technological developments have had on human life at large.
Technology, of its own accord, cannot reach the millions and millions of human beings. It needs some assistance from another aspect of human interaction i.e. Economy. In today’s parlance Economy and Market go hand in hand. The Market forces have been instrumental in the spread of newer technologies to the grass roots. The combination of these two factors has had a humongous impact on our individual, social, political and personal lives.
But this wasn’t the case if you travel only a few hundred years back. The current phase of technological and economical development could be traced back to the period which is famously known as’ Industrial Revolution’. It started in the late 18th century Britain and spread to the various parts of the world. The parts of the world which could garner these forces in their favor are currently known as ‘Developed Countries’. The so called “West” with capital ‘W’ is the single word to describe them. Honestly speaking the rest of the world is still catching up with them.
So where does India stand in all of this? We are a developing country and currently among the emerging economies of the world. The tag of “Developing country” means we are among those who are still catching up with the developed world. But the tag of ‘Emerging Economy’ gives that much of a positive outlook about our future prospects.
Now keeping this larger picture in mind we can now discuss as to how Indian entrepreneurs can make it big in the Global arena. Last year was hailed as a year of Start-ups for India. With the change of political guard and a new found optimism of “Achchhe Din” young Indians have indeed come forward with their skills and courage in the business arena. It would be a bit too early to reach a judgement about the viability and success that these start-ups will have in the long run. We need to give them some time before they can establish themselves in the market, domestic as well as global!
However there is this undeniable trend among these start-ups that not many among them are based on Inventions or something Substantially New. What I mean by ‘Substantially New’ is something which can have a Global impact. Something which might fundamentally change the way we do things. The period of Industrial Revolution is abound with such examples. For example Telephone completely changed the way we communicate with people. And if telephone seems to be an example from the distant past then we can consider Internet and Mobile technology which has further fundamentally changed the way we do things. None of the Start-ups that have come up in the last year in India show such a promise. Unfortunately most of our Start-ups are kind of Imitation ventures. For example online shopping websites like Flipkart, Snapdeal. They are the ideal representatives of the Indian start-ups although they are more than a few years old now. There are limitations to such ventures because as soon as domestic market is opened up to similar players in the global arena (e.g. Amazon) there is always a chance that our smaller fishes will be swallowed up by the bigger ones.
To be fare to our young generation of entrepreneurs they do have all the skill sets and leadership qualities to make a huge impact in the global arena. Our young minds are fed with the same knowledge about how to run a business as do those in the West. Our business schools are imparting quality knowledge to its students which can help them become great business persons of the future. So problem of Indian Start-ups does not lie in the qualities that the individual entrepreneurs possess but in lack of an organized effort at a national level to do well in the extremely competitive global economy.
An organized effort at national level means a synchronized, complementary and harmonious movement of the major players in the country’s economy i.e. the Political will, Research and Development efforts and the Market forces. Research and Development should give our young creative minds enough incentives to explore and come up with new inventions rather than make do with ‘The Jugad’ method which is a buzzword of today’s young generation. These new technological inventions will then require the assistance of market forces in order to penetrate the grass roots of our domestic as well as global market. The abundance of political will in last couple of years has been a major advantage that the young entrepreneurs can make the most of.
In absence of this organized effort our Indian start ups are facing competition from an organized research and development industry of the Western world which is well supplied with finances from the transnational private players which are hungry for more and more profits. The already established industrial giants have the capacity to eat our young start ups in absence of new inventions. No matter how good the managerial skills and leadership qualities the individual might have, there are limits to what they can do alone.
This opinion may smell of an IP professionals bias towards Research and Development but if we turn some pages of history then this bias might well be justified.