1. Enabling the startup ecosystem

Enabling the startup ecosystem

Industry and the established players have a big role to play in building the momentum for the startup temper in the country

By: | Published: January 25, 2016 12:13 AM

The eagerly awaited policy announcement to facilitate startups in the country that the Prime Minister of our country made recently have been welcomed by the industry and the budding entrepreneurs. The excitement with the encouragement coming from the government was felt not only by those present in the audience at the event organised to announce the measures to support startup movement in the country, but it could be sensed from the number of tweets on the subject. According to YourStory, there were over 173,363 tweets hashtagged #startupIndia from 42,958 contributors, with a reach of 173 million, and generating 2.2 billion impressions on Twitter within 12 hours of the event on January 16.

While the initiative of the government to nurture entrepreneurship in the country has received admiration and accolades from various quarters, clarifications on certain announcements and the detailed implementation approach on the ground are awaited. There may be many things which would require fine-tuning and certain expectations are yet to be addressed, but creating a focus on the startup ecosystem and providing the due importance through the policy announcement is in itself the most important step towards getting the traditional planners and policy makers to accept the new phenomenon for job creation in the country.

The policy has tried to recognise the need to evolve the startup ecosystem by addressing the needs of various stakeholders. The primary objective of the policy in supporting the startup ecosystem is to recognise innovation and significant improvement on current products and services thereby creating new markets or enlarging the current markets. Industry and the established players have a big role to play in building the momentum for the startup temper in the country. Large corporates could stand to gain if they were to develop strategic interfaces with the startups.

Some of the business houses have already initiated steps towards setting up dedicated innovation hubs within the
organisation. These innovation hubs could play a key role in nurturing and partnering with the startups for mutual benefit. Now is the time to study the successful models such as 3 M and encourage efforts of employees towards innovation and fund the ideas that are likely to succeed. Mahindra Group, TCS, Infosys to name a few have already started moving in this direction.

Manufacturing companies could identify a slew of areas where they could be the immediate beneficiaries or could act as faith clients and thus share the domain knowledge and the potential opportunity landscape with prospective entrepreneurs and allay concerns of the first set of customers for their production. Hyperlocal entrepreneurship and self employment could get further boost by large business houses through collaborative models taking advantage of  technology based solutions, local knowhow and niche skills that may be required to service the customers.

Defence sector could take a leaf out of the books of US defence industry which invites proposals from small companies and women owned enterprises to bid for hi-tech niche product development for defence applications.

However, these companies are granted rights to commercially exploit the technology based on the solution developed for the defence application and build businesses thereof. Armed with an assured customer, well defined customer specifications, niche demand area coupled with seasoned user base who can contribute significantly for the product development process and reasonable funds, start up companies would gain confidence in their early stage of operations with such a supportive ecosystem.  Policies of the government should focus on supporting the industry and other sectors on similar initiatives in addition to the financial and fiscal benefits for the startups.

The launch of the startup movement in India includes sowing of the seeds in schools and colleges and here again corporates can play a big role in announcing competitions and boot camps in summer throwing open their gates for interested students for apprenticeship and exposure to tools and technology. With the Apprenticeship Act being amended to cover all sectors, we have an opportunity to select students with a flair for creativity and
entrepreneurship and encourage them to work on real life situations and develop prototypes during their
apprenticeship period.

The IP created during this period could be jointly owned and thus not only show the pathway to entrepreneurship to the students but also help the promising candidates with the seed capital for their own ventures soon after completing their education. It would be vital to build such bridges with the academia over the next few decades so that there would be free flow of ideas back and forth and academic institutions embed the right value system that would germinate entrepreneurial zeal in the student community.

The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company

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