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BW Businessworld

The Age Of Star Startups

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It is perhaps the best time there was to build a startup in India. The ecosystem is more evolved than ever, the capital flow has grown and the taboo of building a startup is waning. There are a bunch of success stories out there.

It is also a great time to build products and services for the India we know. Throbbing, diverse, aching and dying to break out of its dilemmas. Success in this India belongs to companies that put problem-solving for the consumer first. These can be consumer-facing problems or business-facing problems — or plain broken rings in the value chain.

Unlike the valley, India is not the market for flashy revenue-less experiments, unless one can demonstrate return on investment. Even product companies end up building service models, and that is the opportunity for entrepreneurs to create unique business models.

Most winning companies today aren’t the best pedigree or the most resourceful, and most of them did not start with an endowed past but rather they made it by moving very quickly — they are the ones who have speed in their DNA. Speed is king, queen and maybe the whole chessboard. Speed wins where traditional cannot.

From low-cost sanitation solutions to high-end gaming — the range of segments and solutions in India is vast and constantly growing into specialised niches. Every entrepreneur worth his/her salt has faced the brunt of regulatory red tape, complex systems and ailing infrastructure. Doing business in India isn’t easy, and never was — but is still worth it. Primarily, the size of scale and potential value that can be generated is super immense.

Technology is no good if it is of no use to the users. Your job as a business owner is to make a user’s life easier and not show off your feature prowess. There is a lot of technology and very little application. Great companies change the ratio.

The time has come for India-first business models and success stories. Build in the home market and don’t worry if a similar product or service does not exist elsewhere. Our unique market situations and user pockets — ranging from bottom of the pyramid to jet buyers, makes us a very unique and vibrant market. Respond to its needs. The big opportunities were never copy-and paste-but build and ship.

The massive difference between new-age businesses and traditional business is that the former, though designed for a winner-takes-all market, are more in tune with sharing success and business value. Best businesses align their stakeholders, employees and partners into success. Grow together and create value for everyone on the table. That is the new age mantra. Every big idea was once impossible. Every thing that had to be built had been built. But audacity and grit is an innovator’s best friend. Human life can be vastly improved by thinking beyond what has been possible so far.

Building high potential startups is a function of the external potential of the market-meets-motivation of an entrepreneur. When these two collide in perfect synchronicity, magic happens. The trends point us in the direction of possibility. There is a long way to go but the journey is the reward too.

The author is founder & CEO, One97 Communication/Paytm

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 29-06-2015)