India 2.0: Innovations driven by young minds

Original article was published in OurBangalore weekly on 15th April 2016.

Here is a full Text of the article.

Last month, The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) in association with the Gujarat CSR Authority and Gujarat Seed Corporation Limited ran a startup competition (EDIEmpresario) Startup Gujarat. It was a state level Startup hunt for innovative ideas solving real problems in the areas of renewable energy, healtchcare, and agriculture. The idea is to foster innovative ideas and encourage entrepreneurship. They insourced innovative business models digitally on Canvazify, a cloud based collaborative innovation platform for teams. India is changing its face. Once known for its services capabilities, India is rapidly emerging as a product nation and startup hub. Lets look at the role that individuals, society, and government are playing to build overall ecosystem thats helping the shift.

“Be the change you want to see”

Individual — Risk taking appetite of individuals is increasing. Noticeable number of individuals are leaving their cushy high paying jobs and coming together to start ventures. Number of college students are opting entrepreneurship as a career option instead of settling for a job or higher studies. Rahul Yadav (26) of Housing, Ritesh Agarwal (21) of OYO Rooms to name a few. Very surprisingly, now major pull is towards working for startups than for big corporates. Instead of settled jobs, people are preferring to shake up things with disruptive innovations. “The new breed is in their mid-20s, fearless, trying to work on innovative business ideas and may not have any work experience that clutters their thinking,”As quotes Baazee founder Avnish Bajaj. And since inexperienced people are taking the plung, several experienced entrepreneurs are coming forward to mentor, advice, and support newcomers.

Img Source: ET

“Support the change you want to see”

Society — As individuals are becoming risk takers, so is the society aligning itself to the shift. Several entities are changing their existing structures or making space to support the big shift. Take for example education institutes, majority of them are creating ‘Entrepreneurship Development Cells’ or running special courses on entrepreneurship to encourage entrepreneurship as a career. As we know, ideas don’t succeed overnight, they need proper nurturing. There are early stage incubators like CIIE, Venture Center and Venture Nursery are helping nurture startup ideas. Number of accelerator programs like Numa-Bengaluru, Microsoft Ventures, NASSCOM 10K, and TLabs are working with select startups to help them refine ideas to scale. Other independent startup communities like iSpirt, Headstart, TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) and SLP (StartupLeadership Program) chapters in major cities across India are helping budding entrepreneurs with network of like minded people and successful entrepreneurs. Platforms like WeekendVentures, In50Hrs, StartupWeekend are running hackathons to ignite young talent try their ideas. Coworking spaces are mushrooming everywhere. Even the corporates have noticed the big shift. Hence many of them like Accenture, Citrix, and AirBus are creating opportunities through open innovation programs. They work with select startups where strategic partnerships are possible to drive innovation and create value for their customers. The society that traditionally did not accept failure is showing openness to try new ideas, new solutions, new technology, new way of doing things.

“Embrace and empower the change”

Government — Traditionally, government is known to be a slow mover in bringing in any policy changes or big reforms. However, Govt of India has taken major steps in past few years to foster innovation. Its quite obvious that government can’t solve all the problems but it can create the environment and give tools and frameworks to the citizens to solve those problems themselves. Government is innovating itself. StartupIndia is big step towards simplifying the process of starting a startup/company. Through Make in India program, its inviting global and domestic players to create things in India. Under Digital India Innovation program, Government is encouraging digital/technology solutions in the areas of banking, agriculture, energy, sanitation, healthcare and education. Through MyGov initiative, its engaging citizens to contribute actively. Products like AADHAR card, IMPS, and IndiaStack are great examples of massive scale innovation on government side to move towards paperless and data rich country.

India is witnessing a leapfrog moment. It is predicted that by 2020, India will be the youngest country (by average age) on the earth. This means our productivity will be higher and minds will be sharper than rest of the world. Country with 1.3 Billion population has numerous problems and hence numerous opportunities to bring innovative solutions. Overall maturity, ecosystem and experiences are still young but quite positive.

What I shared is just a tip of the iceberge. There is lot around this. What do you think about innovation happening around you and emerging ecosystem of India?