Searching for new markets

Written by Reema Jose | Rachana Khanzode | Updated: Jan 5 2009, 05:19am hrs
In late 2005, the US-based entrepreneur- aspirant Anurag Dod was looking for a VC backup for a new India based search portal he would set up. He approached the Bay Area Chapter of a business networking community, the The Indus Entrepreneurs. According to Dod, subsequent TiE interactions in the United States helped him find his investors at Sequoia Capital, when he set up the Bangalore based Guruji.com in February 2006. Organised international communities like TiE and NEN are very active in mentoring young Indian entrepreneurs, Dod shares, adding that his story was only a case in point. Many young companies in India receive constant hand-holding and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs abroad through networking arrangements. Many of these entrepreneurs have already survived an earlier economic slow down in their career and they guide younger Indian companies on how to face the current one, he reasons.

According to Nasscom Chairman Ganesh Natarajan, interaction with Indian diaspora help boost the entrepreneur- confidence in India. I do not see them (the diaspora) pushing the large organisations by way of getting business. But the Indian diaspora within their personal capacities tend to push the young entrepreneurs. They come here and interact with them, which helps these entrepreneurs develop higher confidence. Some of them who are venture capitalists too intend to invest in the smaller companies and start ups.

Meetings with Indians based in developed markets help bring in better clarity of market situations to Indian counterparts. The diaspora brings in a combination of Indian and overseas market perspective, Co- founder of BPO firm 24/7 Customer explains. Indians are a very well-knit community abroad and are in the know of things happening in markets there. Organised modes of interactions with such communities have helped foster business psyche in India.

Beyond mentoring and funding, Indian corporate abroad indirectly aided the software industry to bring more business home, according to some industry watchers. Biotechnology entrepreneur Deepak Ghaisas, who formerly headed Indian operations of Oracle Financial Services affirms, The Indian connection always works out. It helps to push business to India and it usually works out, as they dont have to sell India in terms of location. India is already established as a destination for the IT industry. Sometimes outsourcing centres with Indians at higher level tend to push India as a place for captive centers for example Morgan Stanley.

While the Desi connection does not offer the Indian business developers any breather from the current business slow-down in global markets, industry watchers argue that well- placed Non Resident Indians promote India as an attractive outsourcing destination in the post- recession period, when offshoring would become more of vogue. Once the recession eases, companies will realise that cutting down cost through offshoring is more strategic to their businesses than before. At that time, NRIs at decision making capacities will vouch for India, as they know the advantages that the country offer, concludes Bejoy George, VP - Business Development at engineering company Quest.

Sabyasachi Satpathy of Mindplex Consulting shares that the current slow down in United States could force many Indian entrepreneurs there to consider shifting base to India. We already have Indian entrepreneurs inspire their partners abroad to set up offices in India and expand here. The current slow down has not yet impacted India the way it has hit the US. India is still expected to post growth rates of between 6% and 7%, which will inspire businesses to consider shifting here, he adds.

George shares that the slow down in the United States would also help boost the talent supply in India, as the number of skilled workers moving back to India has increased significantly. Indians who are issued pink slips in the US are making a come back. Sectors like engineering, which have lamented manpower shortage will benefit largely from this reverse brain drain, as the inflow of highly skilled workers will curb the steep salary hikes in the sector.