A standpoint on innovation and business building in India
Authored by Sachin Chalapati & Nimesh Chandra P
Back in 1981, when India was a country of Snake charmers and beggars to the west, six programmers quit their jobs and set out on a quest to conquer the software industry. Mind you, this was the time when it took a year to get a telephone connection and three years to obtain license for importing a computer in India. With slow bureaucracy and no access to basic technology, the 80’s was by no means conducive for a business-friendly environment. So, how did Infosys, launched on a mere 250 dollars capital, turn into generating 8 billion dollars in 2013?
A good education system consistently produces intellects, and intellects spear head innovation. India has education and technology woven into it’s fabric of strategy for development. This education system pumps out half a million engineering graduates anually. What happens to this staggering amount of bright minds? …Do you love apple pies? We do. If you were to grow apple trees in your garden, diligently taking care of them everyday, only for the neighbours to pluck them, make apple pies and sell it to you!!!… This somewhat sums up the downstream of education system in India. The lack of financial security coupled with good opportunities prompts many a young engineer to go overseas. That is why the goal of many youth in India is to be employed in a big MNC (multinational company) and settle abroad. It is also why 62% of all technology start-ups in the US have Indian co-founders. Infosys, and also several other such tech companies, have immensely benefited and owe a good part of their mega-success to this very education system. The opportunity to use technology and education to aid a population of 1.2 billion to be developed, while generating revenue, awaits to be seized. We have the talent, the money and the market. What is stopping us to get rid of the ”developing nation” tag? Maybe a lack of proper governance…
The culture of start-up is not vibrant in India like in Scandinavia. As we entered Sweden’s business eco-system, we were in awe of its structure. The resources available to take idea to market are, simply put, a blessing for us. The time it takes to transform an idea into product development is remarkably short. This is a country that has consistently produced top class entrepreneurs by the bunch. It must have been possible through business mentoring and generating opportunities to pursue self-employment amongst other factors. The most valuable gift Scandinavia has bestowed on us is that it sowed the seeds of entrepreneurship. The meetings such as NLS days in Stockholm and the upcoming REBBLS Venture Cup Challenge in Copenhagen strive to water these seeds. For that we will remain forever in debt to Scandinavia. Companies like Infosys have continuously built strategy to innovate within the company to overcome challenges and this has allowed them to stand the test of time.
Talent in India is abundant. Talent has to be fueled to innovate. It will realize the potential of 500 million youth of tomorrow. The Government has to start working on a strategy to promote innovation for sustainable prosperity. The government needs to create an atmosphere that makes youth see opportunity to grow in their own country. The education system in India can be augmented, such that it should evolve from producing not only job seekers, but also job creators. This may well be the tipping point to overcome social challenges.
// Sachin and Nimesh are founders of Helixworks and Master students in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Borås. Helixworks, based in Borås-Sweden, is developing a platform that interprets and manages human genome data for molecular diagnosis, life science research, and drug-discovery.//