Start Up Entrepreneurs Need To Avoid Beaten Paths

KEY NOTE ADDRESS AT MANTHAN  2014 arranged by Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI)– 14-06-2014 at Bangalore

Thanks, organizers specially Ms. Uma Reddy, Shri Shiv Kumar, President, FKCCI and other Officer bearers for giving me this excellent opportunity.  I have fifteen minutes. Can’t share all ideas and experiences on this vast subject of “Enterprise Development – Technology and Innovation”. I will address a few key items, this being a KEY NOTE address!

Let me first hasten to tell you that there is no single key to Life, Success, Enjoying Life etc... many keys. Also the KEYS used by others, most often will not work for you. Life is full of ERASABLE keys! Often the same person who opened many doors of successes earlier with his/her keys, cannot be using the same KEYS. New DOORS may be shut for him/her.

- That is why you see some great organizations, admired organizations flounder.  Some unbelievably disruptive and successful technologies are thrown overboard within two decades.

- Yes, after about two centuries of high speed growth of science, technology, engineering, industry and markets, the world is in a super-accelerating phase.

Accelerating need not always be in the linear mode. I emphasize this because you may wonder why I use the word acceleration when the world economy is slowing down! That measure is only based on one figure of GDP growth……… but there are several other factors in life. The current slow down in many developed countries, have broken down many of their cozy assumptions about governance, value systems, life styles, education etc...

There is severe shake up in many parts of the world: Middle East, Africa, parts of Europe, east Asia, etc...

What is happening is CHURNING – Manthan. If you look at a pot of curd being churned or sewage water being churned in a Waste Water Recycling Unit, you will find violent accelerations. In the end, they do get desired results:  butter or removal of most solid waste etc...

These churnings are with a PURPOSE. Churning around the world may have inner purposes for those societies: difficult to see from outside. Real life is a COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEM with many such Churning, MANTHAN. India too has been through such a churning- what looked like CHAOTIC during the past few years. Now there is a new resolve – new hope thrown up by the people of India.

But that does not mean that one can settle down to the old ways, with one-point-activism, be it against corruption or plastics or nuclear or against coal or against GM crops etc... multi pronged actions are required – many keys to be used, by many people, but with a goal to succeed in new businesses, new engineering/technological products, new markets, new forms of customer/consumer satisfaction.

Some myths which we need to jettison are:

India is ONE! But to think of solutions for 1.25+ billion people in the same way, with the same yardstick is wrong. India is not a 1.25 billion market for any product.

Approximate demography of India is as under:

- 100 million rich and super rich (RSR) would like to import everything; including for their factories/offices; rich farmer may love to import foreign tractors!

- 200 million Upper Middle Class (UMC) want to emulate West. All will like to emigrate there! But most have to stay in India. Therefore they have to settle with many Indian made products, but they want it with much lower costs. This is a great business and engineering opportunity for entrepreneurs.

- Many Indian innovators with or without foreign joint ventures can succeed and they can also export to such UMC persons in China, Brazil, ASEAN countries, Middle East – may be even to Europe which has been shaken up! About 1 billion such persons (Indians are about 200 Million UMC)

Then another 200 million Middle / Lower Middle Class (MLMC) – will require much cheaper products without much frills of performance. Price is the key to reach them. Again after meeting demands of Indian markets there are around 1 billion people around the world. This requires really innovative Indian engineering/business solutions.

Then the Bulky Base (BB) – of 700 million. Real challenge. Roti-Kapada-Makaan zamaana is over.  But they don’t have good incomes because they do not have modern economic skills and supportive government policies. They are being wooed by “doles” which will dry out soon. Reaching them (BB) with jobs, incomes and consumer products/services of their liking is real challenge of India. Individual ENTREPRENEURS cannot solve it. It requires real Team work: Centre/State Govts/Political parties/Traders/ Industry/Engineers/Academics activist NGO’s. During next 20 years this Bulky Base should merge with Middle/Lower Middle Class. Then Indians and India would have arrived with a respected leader. India will be the destination which other country persons would want – even to live for a few or more months.

Now in a quick gallop, I will list a few areas of Technology – Engineering – Business opportunities. There are huge markets and growing and permanent ones! (sustainable businesses, not STATIC please, one needs to constantly innovate!)

- Biomedical Instruments and equipment: Blood testing to X-ray-MRI, ultrasound etc.,

- Waste Water Recycling and Reuse. (for agriculture, industry, domestic, public places etc.,)

- Biomass based electricity plants: distributed in many parts of India.

- Whole range of security and anti-terror, anti-violence equipment: software to sensors, self-defence equipment etc.

- Mobile phones with various services.

- Mobile phone based knowledge skill support for the Bulky Base. The current English based systems won’t work to reach all. Simple local language based system with 3G type for images/animation, but affordable. Not complex translation system. Simple queries replied by real audio-video contents in their languages.

- Whole range of off-set production for defence/aerospace industries running to several thousands of crores of rupees.

- Moisture proofing Indian agriculture whole of range of drip irrigation-tubes to drips to pumps to computer controls, minor irrigation etc.,

- Life sciences for agricultural, animal, bird, fish productivity using lesser land.

- Life sciences: GM crops, better protein cereals/pulses to soil rejuvenations etc. Whole field of soil biology is open in addition to usually known ones. India is a rare country with so much of available soil which can be made arable.

- Biodiversity: engineering to preservation, commercialization.

- Clean chemicals / specialty / knowledge based etc... Fertilisers.

- Whole set of Indian ores/mineral value addition. We are exporting raw material losing many jobs in India and profits that can be got!

- Geriatric support systems. >60 old people are about 100 million and growing. The demography will be same. 8% RSR, etc... Middle class 32%. BB 60%. From old age diapers to wheel chair to emergency communications; many crores of rupees of businesses possible. 

- Business plans/innovations alone cannot achieve the above. There has to be a plan for engineering/technology/skill aquisition/later innovating in them.

Indian S&T system are not up to the mark. Even the best ones are away from engineering required for a competitive products/distribution. It is sad but a reality. Therefore initially our business innovations have to tie up to get best, as joint ventures or technology transfer from abroad, get IPR’s Launch fast, skill your workforce, and managers, keep climbing up. More later: you can contact me by email.

Then about those who are winning. Hearty congratulations. But don’t rest: You need to aim for 100 such successes in ACTUAL LIFE situations. Use different keys.

Those who attempted; did not win. Don’t worry. Something better is awaiting you in actual life! Try different keys.

Those who did not try and were diffident, don’t lose out! Life is full of late bloomers. Try to succeed in actual life situations. 

For those asleep: My call ARISE, AWAKE; Life in future is full of opportunities, if only you TRY.

Lastly to all: PHYSICAL FITNESS: Asked those present as to who do physical exercises including running and walking. Less than 10% raised hands. This is same in most of India. So ended up in advising them to do some physical exercise daily; not necessarily to build beautiful bodies, but just to make it fit. Without good health (which comes from timely food, sleep and physical exercise) many  successes cannot be enjoyed! Make yourselves PHYSICALLY FIT TOO!

- Y S Rajan