The contribution of sustainable business models is not limited to employment opportunities. It impacts the quality of lives, opening of global markets, and most importantly can nurture the talent and augment skills building.
- By Tanul Mishra
With 1,300 new tech start-ups added in 2019 India’s count of tech start-ups stood at about 9300 according to the latest NASSCOM report on the Indian Tech Start-up Ecosystem. The Indian startup ecosystem is thriving and in fact, disrupting conventional business models. Last year, NASSCOM reported a 108 per cent growth in funding for Indian startups as compared to 2017. This news holds within its fine print the promise of better economic growth, bolder innovation and value creation with the report citing 60,0000 direct jobs created by Start-ups in 2019. A welcome relief for a nation currently grappling with the effects that the economic slowdown has brought on.
Employability and Impact
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Giving rise to allied and related business which directly and indirectly create employment and lead to economic prosperity, startups can reshape and redefine cities and towns. As the fastest startup to become a unicorn, touching the $1-billion mark, Swiggy is a fine example of the impact that is possible. Recently the startup announced its plan to hire 3 lakh people in the next 18 months, taking its total strength to 5 Lakh and becoming the third-largest employer preceded just by the Indian Army and Railways. Swiggy’s success is directly linked to a successful and sustainable hyperlocal business model.
Their focus on building an extensive logistics network was accompanied by massive direct and indirect employment generation. That is one of many instances of the impact that startups have through direct employment opportunities. Additionally, it is well known, that startups possess the great capability to not only provide options of direct employment but also give rise to many ancillary and boutique services in their wake, making markets more accessible and creating micro-entrepreneurs along the way.
Another example of this transformative impact can be seen through the story of the industrial city of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, from the archives to see how impact creation can truly stand the test of time. An otherwise challenged city was alchemized with the entry of Tata Steel and rechristened through that influence ‘Tata Nagar’ or ‘Steel City’. Today despite the fact that it is not on the official list of cities under the government’s Smart Cities Mission, it is trooping ahead to become one, nonetheless. Tata Steel carved out Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Co. Ltd (JUSCO) from its Town Services Division in 2004, which is a unique utility company in the country providing different utility services like water, power and waste management in the city. Now JUSCO is working on IoT projects with Tata Communications to improve utility services in Jamshedpur in order to further enhance the lives of its over one million residents.
Caution and Support
Such success stories, however, in the Indian startup system can seem like lucky strokes, if you look at the number of organizations that fall to the wayside while on the mountain climb that is entrepreneurship. With a high failure rate, most startups appear on the scene with a bang, holding much promise and creating many jobs, but only a few survive the challenges of continued innovation, adequate funding and efficient business models.
If we want more examples of success as a nation, it would be foolhardy to then rely only on an individual’s ingenuity in order to duplicate the success few have been able to achieve. What these examples show us, is an urgent need for all stakeholders in the startup ecosystem to pull together to home in on creating support structures that allow for businesses to learn as they grow and build robust business models, sustainable employment roadmaps and ensure skill-building opportunities along the entire way. In short, we need structured and continuous knowledge sharing even in the entrepreneurial sphere, now more than ever, in order to ensure there are more hits than misses in the startup space in India.
Evidently, the contribution of sustainable startup business models is not limited to the employment opportunities they create. It impacts the quality of lives, opening of global markets and most importantly can nurture the talent and augment skills building. More often than not, in conventional businesses, individuals work in silos, merely on their niche, without acquiring newer and more relevant skills. Startups are increasingly turning the table. Small teams, flat hierarchies, multiple roles and direct responsibilities positions startups uniquely to add to the skill development of their employees.
As most startups believe in the efficiency of a lean time, it is not surprising that employees have to multitask and dabble into tasks that go beyond their area of expertise. While some may view this as an added burden, others view it as a way to pick up new skills that will last. Additionally, employment opportunities in a startup come with a need to work on adaptability and self-learning skills. By the virtue of being a new entity, startups seldom have well-defined roles and responsibilities and all members learn on the job, harbouring new skills every day.
In the same light, startup success also depends a lot on its ability to understand and react to the changing market conditions. This may mean ensuring continuous skills development to remain relevant in a competitive market. A business can only be sustainable if it is focused on creating an environment where learning is encouraged, and forward-thinking is staunchly supported. Not only does this outlook encourage better retention rates as employee motivation is managed better but it also acts as a fuel for business growth with new ideas ensuring a right to win in the market. Funding, people and business value become natural outcomes for a flourishing startup that has spent sufficient time on building a foundation of strong values, placing greater emphasis on building and growing a sound business that delivers value and is scalable.
(Tanul Mishra is the CEO at Afthonia Lab. Views expressed are the author’s own.)