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Innovation Is The Only Way Forward

Entrepreneurs must learn from the mistakes of their fallen predecessors and peers and ensure that their innovative ideas have potential for sustainability and scale in the long term, and an appetite for disruption that is contextualised in these learnings

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Twenty-five days. That is the average number of days that a truck driver would have to stay away from his family while on a delivery route. Thanks to one innovative idea — a ‘driver relay’ model — these truck drivers could finally return home every night. Rivigo is a great example of how a single innovative idea can create widespread impact and was thus recognised with the Marico Innovation Award in 2018.

The turn of the century brought with it a new crop of entrepreneurs that dared to think out of the box but the easing up of government regulations meant that markets became more ferociously competitive than ever before. Innovation is the factor that separates the floundering from the flourishing — and it stands true for enterprises and social initiatives alike.

When one considers the sheer size, vastly diverse and heterogeneous nature of the Indian populace combined with the diverse demographics, innovation in product, service or business process is the only way forward. In such a scenario, it becomes all the more crucial for startups and existing players to focus on creating an undeniable ‘right to win’ for themselves.
 
Unlearning the barriers to innovation
A key ingredient in the journey to success, something that several entrepreneurs have learned the hard way, is ‘constant innovation’. By this we refer to inculcating innovation as a part of your everyday business operations by dismantling rigid protocols to allow fresher ideas to be executed; but, more importantly, by moving away from a risk-averse culture into one that is conducive to innovation in all its forms. In this way, we have to remind ourselves to unlearn those barriers that keep us from innovating at all stages. At every stage, leadership with an open mind that empowers talent to take their own course becomes imperative on the road to achieving goals and creating a sustained impact.

The implication of innovation does not confine itself within the corporate space; it extends even to the social sector. Taking the example of a past Marico Innovation Award winner, Agastya International Foundation has created a hands-on interactive learning environment for the poor and disadvantaged through simple yet interesting projects. They are on the path of building a creative India of ‘tinkerers, solution seekers and creators’.

On the flip side of success is failure and learning from others’ mistakes is an important marker for mature entrepreneurs. A large number of startups shut down in 2017 and it’s not difficult to point out that most of them struggled to incorporate innovation in their business models. The common denominator among such stories is lack of creating a right to win that set them apart from what the market was already offering to the consumers. Take the overcrowded hotel booking app market for example. Startups like HotelsAroundYou or RoomsTonight did not offer anything particularly attractive to users. When it came to the question innovate or perish, these organisations unfortunately fell on the wrong side of the tracks.

In a constantly changing market, the scope for innovation only expands as we move along. Entrepreneurs must learn from the mistakes of their fallen predecessors and peers and ensure that their innovative ideas have potential for sustainability and scale in the long term, and an appetite for disruption that is contextualised in these learnings. Personally, I believe that the path less trodden leads to far greater heights than taking the familiar road.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Magazine 28 April 2018 entrepreneurship marico

Harsh Mariwala

The author is Chairman, Marico

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