Column : Entrepreneurship amid crisis

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SummaryIn my working career of over 25 years, the economic and political environment has never seemed more daunting.

Expect more of the same this year, with the upcoming elections resulting in political uncertainty

The thoughts, buzzwords and phrases that come to my mind when I think about the last few years are: global financial meltdown, volatility, uncertainty, a tough macro, decaying governance, feuding institutions, capital availability swinging alternately between a glut and a scarcity, high oil prices, large fiscal deficits, inflation, a slowing China, a US in a recession followed by a fragile recovery, the eurozone in a crisis, a weak employment scenario, a confidence, trust and credibility deficit, a leadership vacuum—all of these against the backdrop of a slowing Indian economy. In my working career of over 25 years, the economic and political environment has never seemed more daunting.

And yet there is no dearth of entrepreneurship in India. At two recent entrepreneurship conferences—TiEcon in Delhi and TES in Mumbai—the start-up scene was buzzing. More than a thousand people attended each event. Many of them were recently started entrepreneurs and others aspiring to become entrepreneurs. And almost all of them were well-educated and had the option of working in good companies.

This seems to be a contradiction. In a difficult economic environment, people who have a choice should actually prefer the security of a job in a well-managed company over the uncertainty, pain and sacrifice of a start-up. However, the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India has evolved considerably in the last few years—a large number of young people are starting companies, there is risk capital that is willing to back them, there are customers who are willing to buy what these entrepreneurs are selling and there are proven success stories and role models of those who have tried it and succeeded. It appears that the ambition and desire of enough young people in India is to pursue a quest that holds more meaning for them than the mere financial security and prestige of a salaried job in a prestigious company. It is cooler to be an entrepreneur and that is what is driving more and more people to do start-ups.

So, what do the prospects look like in 2013 for all these thousands of start-up entrepreneurs around the country?

Unfortunately, I have no good news to offer. In fact, I have no news to offer. Given the fact that a year end is an artificial construct I expect more of the same in the next 12 months with political uncertainty being added

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