Two new startups every day. Yes, that is the rate at which India’s startup sector is growing aided by energetic young entrepreneurs, plentiful money, eager mentors, and policy-makers with good intentions.
Since 2007, when starting up started becoming fashionable, India has created seven unicorns, or companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion. Not bad, yes. But is it good enough for a country which is rated as one of the best places in the world to start up in? No. Compared to India’s seven unicorns, China has 24. And for an American Amazon there is a Chinese Alibaba.
If the US has produced a Google, there is a Baidu in China. In comparison to American and Chinese startups, India looks like a minnow. It’s no shame being small if you can grow big, but the worry in India is that home-grown startups could end up staying puny. Or that even the bigger ones could fall prey to competition from multinationals.
But the ideal Indian startup founder is one who thinks big and executes large—someone who builds institutions and does not cash out at the first opportunity. It is blessed to be in growth market like India, and the founder who thinks of this sub-continent and beyond as a playground will be the real role model for young people looking to become entrepreneurs.
Founders must create organisations embedded with the growth DNA. This requires maturity, wisdom, tenacity and ambition, all qualities which are not in short supply among Indians. Investors can help, and they must. It is not enough to splash cash on young founders with bright ideas. The best investors are those who can help founders push the limits of their potential and make it worthwhile for them to do so.
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