Best Time Ever To Be An Entrepreneur In India

By Anirudh Suri WG’12, founder and CEO of Findable.in

If you read my last post, “Why Is It So Hard To Start A Business in India?” then you know that there are some big challenges to starting a business, especially a tech business, in India. But as I keep saying, this is actually the best time ever to be an entrepreneur in India.

Here’s why:

  1.  The cool factor. It’s cool to be an entrepreneur in India today; “startups” have become a buzzword on most top college campuses across the country as well as among the top employers in the country. Parents (and even more importantly in the Indian context, potential wives and husbands!) are beginning to consider “startups” as a good way to begin or further a career. Three years ago, when I moved back to India, my father wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of “startups” but today, with all the major newspapers covering new startups every day, he’s excited too! It bodes well for the future of entrepreneurship in India.
  2.  Rapidly evolving ecosystem. The startup ecosystem is really evolving rapidly in India. When I moved back in 2011 to launch India Internet Group, an early stage venture capital fund focused on internet and mobile startups, we were amongst the first early stage funds in India, along with Blume Ventures (run by Karthik Reddy, WG’01) and Kae Capital. Today, I can’t even count the number of early stage funds, accelerators, incubators and other such programs that really help seed startups in India.
  3.  Opportunities for efficiency. India continues to offer many opportunities for successful startups to solve basic problems and make markets more efficient. Often, successful startups have managed to organize unorganized markets in India (e.g., RedBus organized the bus travel tickets market; Ola Cabs has organized the unorganized cab market; JustDial has organized the unorganized services market; MakeMyTrip has organized the air travel and hotel market). Several of these companies have also provided handsome returns to their early investors through either IPOs (Makemytrip, JustDial, Infoedge) or acquisitions (RedBus). Similarly, my own startup, Findable.in, is trying to organize the offline retail market by aggregating and bringing online the retail inventory of offline retailers.
  4.  E-commerce. Besides organizing unorganized markets, other startups (e-commerce companies, for example) are bringing greater efficiencies to the Indian market and facilitating commerce and delivery of services. E-commerce companies such as Flipkart.com and Snapdeal.com have been a boon to the Indian middle class, especially in smaller towns that haven’t seen their offline retail markets evolve in the same way that their purchasing capacity has evolved. The very Indian model of “Cash-on-Delivery” driven e-commerce in India (which Flipkart in India has become synonymous with) has brought great convenience to the consumers, albeit at sometimes a very high cost to the retailer.
  5. Mobile. India already has the second largest number of mobile phone users in the world (second only to China) with over 900 million mobile phones. At the same time, mobile internet users are increasing in India at a pace unmatched in the rest of the world. The number of mobile internet users is going to reach 185 million by June 2014. Customers who have been deprived of quality entertainment for so long (besides cricket and Bollywood, of course) are taking to mobile-based games and entertainment like fish to water. Still others are starting to search and buy everything on the go. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if more global mobile startups come out of India in the next 2-3 years.

Despite all the hurdles to success, this is a great time to be an entrepreneur in India. With huge open opportunities in travel, Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile payments, gaming, entertainment, marketplaces, and just easier and better access to information and products, the potential for impact is immense. By leveraging mobile and internet technology, entrepreneurs in India have the opportunity to transform the way Indians will lead their lives. And that’s why so many Wharton alumni, including myself, are deep in the Internet trenches of India today.

Anirudh SuriBio: Anirudh Suri WG’12, is currently the CEO of Findable.in, a location-based product search platform based in India. He is also the Founding Partner of India Internet Group, an early stage venture capital fund based in Mumbai, Delhi and New York. Previously, Anirudh worked at McKinsey& Company, Goldman Sachs, and as a policy advisor to fellow Wharton alumnus and the Hon’ble Minister of State for Communications and Technology in the Government of India, Mr. Sachin Pilot. At Wharton, Anirudh was a member of the Venture Initiation Program and the Entrepreneurship Club; organized the BizTech Conference and the Wharton India Economic Forum; and also partied a lot in Center City Philadelphia.

5 comments on “Best Time Ever To Be An Entrepreneur In India

  1. Hi,
    Your article is really excellent. You are absolutely right. There is always a good opportunity for innovative business ideas especially with this digital age.
    Jaganmohan

  2. Fully agree to these views Anirudh. If some pieces are missing, then they are:

    1. Pure Technology Startup Success Stories: India is seeing e-commerce, marketplaces growing, but not many pure technology product startups. Many investors are still averse to invest in B2B offerings.

    2. Online Marketing/Growth Hacking: As far as I know, we haven’t seen Indian Startups doing great at either of these.

    3. Access to funds: I read somewhere that, last year the total investment in India was 18M (I might be wrong). If this is true, then it is seriously not enough for Booming Startup Eco system. Right.

  3. That’s so true. It’s one of the best times to be an entrepreneur in India.
    Not only is the gov planning to help out budding entrepreneurs, but the scope for entrepreneurs is also bright.
    For someone like me who has done the entrepreneurship course from Welingkar, this is like a golden opportunity. We need more and more of entrepreneurs in India to take our country forward.
    Nice work Anirudh!

  4. Hi Anirudh Suri,

    Post looks so interesting to read. Apart from the above there are so many other startup companies are emerging in India. This is great sign for Indian economy.

  5. Yes, that is 100% correct. India is quickly evolving to be a startup hub. Every other graduate these days plans of becoming an entrepreneur with fresh and great ideas. The new government is also boosting the idea of becoming a country with fresh startups and is encouraging it.
    This is the right time to become a digitally advanced country, and thus digital India programs are being boosted. With big players like Flipkart and Snapdeal teaching people to shop everything online, Indians are getting more internet savvy and indulging more into online shopping, breaking orthodox methods by shopping medicines, vegetables, processed food items and even cow dung online.
    This will boost economy as well as lead India to become a global destination for investment and a superpower.

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