Start-up Boom: Evolution of successful entrepreneurs in India

Porisma P. Gogoi

Title: Boom Country? The New Wave of Indian Enterprise; Author: Alan Rosling; Publisher: Hachette India; Pages: 269; Price: Rs 599

Prior to economic liberalisation, the Indian business scenario was dominanted by family-based companies or people opting for government jobs, instilled with the notion of being financially secure. There was very little or no success in being an entrepreneur. With the introduction of economic reforms in 1991, the start-up scenario started flourishing here.

An entrepreneur himself, the author, Alan Rosling, has put in the effort to provide an insight into the evolution of entrepreneurship in the country and described it in simple language through the experiences of over 100 successful entrepreneurs.

Rosling, a strategic advisor and co-founder of a Mumbai-based start-up grid-connected solar energy producer Kiran Energy, has compiled interviews of 109 such pioneers, of whom 92 were relatively recent starters.

He narrated his experience as: "These busy people gave me their time, their stories and their views, often sharing intimate, difficult or embarrassing anecdotes and opening up to another entrepreneur as they might not have done to a journalist."

The book begins with an account of the conversation Rosling had in 2003 with Ratan Tata, the doyen of Indian business, who then considered his plan of venturing into a start-up as "not a good idea". Prior to opening his own start-up, Rosling had worked as the non-executive director of one of the holding companies of the Tata Group.

Regarded as India's most iconic business leader with an experience of over 50 years, Tata, after his retirement as the interim chairman of the Tata Group, became one of the most prominent angel investors, putting money in 34 small or growing companies, including Snapdeal, Ola Cabs, Paytm, CarDekho, Zivame, Urban Ladder and BlueStone.

The author described Ratan Tata's enthusiasm of supporting young entrepreneurs as the theme of his book -- "that something new, different, and exciting is happening in India in entrepreneurship."

In his book, Rosling has divided the evolution of entrepreneurship into three groups. The first group comprised entrepreneurs who started prior to the 1991 reforms and grew in businesses boosted by the liberalisation.

The second group -- which Rosling called 'Manmohan's children' -- culled the group of entrepreneurs who started prior to 2000. It included names like media personality Ronnie Screwvala, N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of biotech business Biocon, who had faced the additional challenge of being a woman trying to enter a traditionally male industry.

The rest of the 71 interviews incorporated those who started after 2000, and many after 2010, termed as 'The New Generation". Among them was Deep Kalra, one of the first-wave Internet entrepreneurs in India, setting up MakeMyTrip in 2000. He was followed by three more entrepreneurial enterprises -- SLK Software, Micromax Infomatics and Fractal Analytics.

The interviews also included traditional leading business houses, like Mahindra and Godrej, established first-generation entrepreneurs like Sunil Mittal (Bharti Enterprises) and Kishore Biyani (Future Group) among others. New-generation start-ups include Flipkart (Sachin Bansal), Ola Cabs (Bhavish Aggarwal) and One97 Communications/Paytm (Vijay Shekhar Sharma).

The book states that although the economy is continuously developing and strengthening with a boom of start-ups, the significant risks and fragilities in this scenario cannot be ignored. Also, with the coming up of more venture capitalists and angel investors into the scene, and the government promoting ease of doing business and offering various incentives to promote start-ups, the entrepreneurship boom is expected to thrive in decades to come.

Overall, anyone who looks for an inspiration to embark on a journey as an entrepreneur may profit from the success stories described in the book.

(Porisma P. Gogoi can be contacted at porisma.g@ians.in)

--IANS

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