A taste of Indian entrepreneurship: how India plans to offer jobs to 1.4 billion people
During my Indian month, one of my main tasks is to interview startups to understand the journey of these entrepreneurs, their problems and challenges in the difficult road to success. Then, my teammates and I should use this to help one of the most famous incubators in Ahmedabad to improve its processes.
So, let me share the energy and passion of some of these entrepreneurs in different sectors, with diverse backgrounds and working on a wide variety of products and services.
Some of them are very young, still students, and have already worked for several months (even years) on their startup.
One project is to build easy to clean and ecologic toilets to deploy in outside public places. But the challenges are very important since this requires to have a lot of different technical expertise to create the system (chemistry, sustainable development …) and build it (engineering in mechanics and water). The challenge is even bigger since the plan is for this equipment to be IoT/connected with the capability to send regular information, reports, alerts and to be able to take actions (exceptional cleaning or lock the door for example) depending on information from sensors and the intelligence built around.
I imagine that such project, for its complexity, will take time to become a prototype and I really hope the 3 students will be able to find an incubator after the end of their business school, in a few months.
I also had several discussions with a passionate entrepreneur who has 2 start-ups. The first is a non-profit startup (https://openfuel.org) that provides design thinking tools. The idea came from his passion to teach that he developed while working with students in classes but also in hackathons or startup bootcamps.
Yash other startup is a more standard one, which main objective is to make profit. The product is a tech tool to make fashion shopping easier, faster and fun (http://www.getposhaq.com). The team is an interesting mix of fashion specialists and tech gurus.
I also had a very interesting conversation with an entrepreneur who wanted, after his studies in UK, to launch a healthy and durable product in his country. After a market analysis, he decided, 4 years ago, that he will sell coconut water, since India has a lot of coconuts and this is one of the healthier drink on earth.
But, the journey was quite complicated since coconut water in general isn’t bottled and is drunk directly when the coconut is cut. Nevertheless, after several years, with minimal help, Jimit is now selling his coconut water in a lot of shops in several Indian states. Online sale is also available: http://cocosipp.com
This proves that a startup and innovation can be something else than a mobile app or a tech tool!
I also learned a lot from a very experienced entrepreneur who created his first company in 2003, when startups and entrepreneurs weren’t popular at all. During more than 10 years he worked hard to grow his startup. Now, the company has a significant number of employees and an important portfolio of products and services.
A few years ago, Pratik decided to become again a new entrepreneur on a different business and industry. That’s why he created Vyaap (http://vyaap.com) who is making fun games for kids in mobile applications. The goal is to teach basic educational concepts and also to provide parents with a mobile based learning experience.
As you can see in the website, the portfolio of applications is already quite wide and will grow in the coming months!
Even if I interviewed others talented people, I think the ones who impressed me more are the 3 very young entrepreneurs who created FreeCopy (http://freecopy.in) a few months ago just after being graduated from their business school.
The idea came while being students when they had a lot of problems to get photocopies (and they were quite expansive). So, Kunal, Raahish and Tanmai decided to create a mobile app to be able to send the documents they want to print to shops nearby with a printer and get that for free. In a few months, with their incubator help, they were able to get funding to build the app, have sales people to convince shops (the first ones near universities, where most of the primary potentials customers are) to be part of this adventure.
Now, less than one year after the original idea, the mobile app is working very well, the desktop application (targeting companies market) is now ready, the network of shops in the city is growing day after day!
I imagine that other cities will come soon but it’s already a fantastic achievement for such young people to be able to show what they did in a few months!
During these interviews, I understood that in a lot of business schools it’s now mandatory, as part of the curriculum, to create a business and run it for several weeks!
This is one example which demonstrates that the central Indian government significantly encourages entrepreneurship because this will be strongly needed in the coming years to have jobs for the country which will replace China as the biggest country in the world in 5 years (1.4 billion Indians in 2022 compared to 1.3 billion Chinese, according to UN).