Wednesday, 13 January 2016


A popularly-held belief is that startups have thrived and the ecosystem has flourished because the government has stayed away from and out of it! If the absence of a government were to benefit startups and the ecosystem then we would have a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Swat Valley, not Silicon Valley. The corollary isn’t good either. A government fully immersed and involved in the ecosystem can lead to entrepreneurs spending time “managing” the power structures in Delhi instead of building their businesses.
Our startup ecosystem would have developed at a greater pace if the government had played its role of being enabler, facilitator and regulator. That government should have its eyes and nose in the ecosystem but not the entire body. Close, but not too close. Here is what it must do.
India is the eighth-largest economy and is still ranked 130 in the world for “ease-of-doing business.” Ease of doing business needs to encompass all aspects of business from starting to managing to closure. Today, the law requires a company maintain books and files taxes for eight long years even when it has no business and no employees.
Risk capital is the fuel needed to start a company. In India, almost all-available risk capital (or venture capital) is powered by overseas investors (called limited partners or LPs). LPs are primarily pension funds, endowments, family offices, and trusts. Why not allow large Indian pension funds, the EPFO, and other financial institutions to invest in Indian venture funds that will ultimately invest in startups?
Two of the most impactful technologies in recent times — GPS and the internet — were funded originally by the US Federal government for defence purposes and then dispersed for equal access by all. Indian defence spends over a billion dollars on indigenous research and development and there will be core technologies developed that can be mined to create innovative companies that solve the common citizen’s problems.
As the provider of public goods and services, the government is the repository of huge public data. It sits on huge amounts of data for health, transportation, and utility services. For example: If land records and transactions were digitised, and the data made available as an open source, then online real estate companies could use this data to help consumers make more informed choices.
Any government initiative is viewed with cynicism because government initiatives are never measured for outcomes, and even if such measures exist, they are not in the public domain. I believe that the government should measure its startup initiatives against measurable outcomes (such as jobs created) and do so in a transparent manner.
Communism failed because private enterprises are better at creating jobs than government and within private enterprises, small and medium businesses create more jobs than large enterprises. The biggest loss to any economy isn’t startups that didn’t make it but startups that could have been but for want of support.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, The government is merely a servant, a temporary one! It can’t be its prerogative to determine what is a right startup and what is not, who can be an entrepreneur and who can’t be.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Startups: New Year Resolutions

Every time Earth finishes a lap of 940 million kilometers, people greet each other to celebrate it. They build a long list of resolutions to enjoy the next lap peacefully.
Some begin a year by staying fit, some want to be intellectual, while others aim to live happily. But, there are group of people who are passionate towards bringing a transformational change. Such groups are known as entrepreneurs.
These entrepreneurs are always thinking and have a proactive approach. They continuously accept challenges, solve real problems, wish to grow at a lightning speed and build things from scratch. They go on to inspire many like-minded individuals with similar vision and passion. But is passion enough for disruption?
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins” , inferred Benjamin Franklin.
So before making this New Year’s Resolution list, focus on being passionate, Following are two cents on the resolutions you can adopt.

Big Picture, Smaller Steps

To complete a picture, each pixel is equally important. Losing focus is easy when faced with obstacles on a daily basis. Pledge to celebrate every milestone, however small, to instil that sense of achievement. A good habit would be to acknowledge your team from time to time. Remind them regularly how their small steps- a line of code, an article edit, one phone call, one meeting, all coming together and creating an impact.


As Steve Jobs rightly put, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Probably the best resolution a startup should adopt. Keep experimenting, keep pivoting, keep innovating. What will set your company apart is novel thinking. Your idea is not a solution if it falls short on solving the problem.
Hence, ensure your startup evolves with customer feedback while maintaining its originality. This year, resolve to introduce unconventional methods, be prepared to walk the off-beat path, bring in refreshing ideas.

Own it, Live it.

Every successful venture is based on a foundation of individual ideators. Every word, every mail, every code should entail a sense of ownership. Instil these important core values in the problem solvers you hire. Leadership thrives in an environment of ownership. If it isn’t the case, motivate your think tanks to add it to their resolution list.

Data Driven Growth

It is not when you start, it is for you to start it right. Commit to reason out  all your decisions via data. Regularly observe the synergy between your team’s output and the market. Recognize the next immediate logical steps, which will help drive growth. Analytics is a great assistant for instantaneous feedbacks and evaluation. Adhering to this, resolution will maximise the output while automating the processes, thus eliminating the excess of any efforts.

Hiring the right bunch

Understand the demands of your company. Know where, when and whom to invest in. Hiring is that thin line, the deciding factor, between success and mediocrity. Your team can be your most prized possession, so  hire the right people for the role. Start fresh this year by understanding the problems faced by them. Recognizing and responding to their problems can go a long way in establishing the core value of loyalty. Before hiring, know what kind of team you would like to develop and recruit accordingly. Sometimes being the best is not enough, attitude matters.

An Entrepreneur is an individual chasing dreams to disrupt how the world works. In an attempt to scale quickly, losing out on the above factors is a common recurring issue. Competition may seem to work better and morale might be at an all-time low.

On days when your organisation feels the progress is at a standstill, send in this small reminder. The Earth is orbiting at 30 km/s around a galaxy moving at 250 km/s which is advancing in the universe at a rate of 600 km/s. Nobody is at a standstill, ever.

Source: Aniket Deb :