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10 BIG IDEAS to wake up Indian entrepreneurs

Last updated on: July 4, 2012 07:04 IST

10 BIG IDEAS to wake up Indian entrepreneurs

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Arifa Khan

These ideas will change the way entrepreneurs think and succeed in their ventures, says founder of Genius Incubator, Arifa Khan. Her company helps entrepreneurs raise capital.

Some of the best Indian minds are managing PE (private equity) and VC (venture capital) funds and are busy creating wealth for external shareholders, on the back of India's growth.

Venture capitalists around the world know that there has never been a better time than now to be an entrepreneur! In today's world of online markets and social marketing, the costs of launching a start-up are tempting -- as low as a few lakh rupees.

The entry barriers? Almost none for a good entrepreneur.

As people take more control of their lives, boundaries between fields and skill sets are blurring. Job descriptions are becoming fluid and amorphous. What was once a salesman in the bricks and mortar world has now become a "growth hacker" with multiple skills like digital marketing, evangelising, search engine optimisation, product development etc.

The analytically-minded want to explore their artistic side.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and such platforms which encourage self-expression are enabling people to discover their multi-dimensional selves, like a banker who starts to take his photography seriously because he was the official photographer at a friend's wedding...and his pictures on Facebook were a huge hit.

Full time employees want to test their worth in entrepreneurship waters, well before they make the jump.

Why then do we not produce the next big thing like Twitter, Pinterest or even a Zynga?

We perhaps lack the imagination, we lack the courage to take big risks and to be fair, we also lack the eco-system of Silicon Valley where other rich entrepreneurs love risk, backing new nascent ideas and budding entrepreneurs.

On the positive side, ours is an ambitious generation. We are considered an intelligent lot, the world over! We have bred some of the world's best entrepreneurs, like Mr Dhirubhai Ambani.

So, I would like to give a wake-up call to Indian entrepreneurs.

For my bit, I will contribute to the building of networks -- where entrepreneurs meet, brainstorm and refine ideas, form teams, meet investors and raise funds. Because it takes several serendipitous meetings and the convergence of different fields and ideas to come up with creative solutions to India's opportunities and problems.

The Options pricing problem was solved by Black Scholes not by some financial theory, but by the wave equation in particle physics related to quantum mechanics. The solution would not have occurred to someone who did not know both particle physics and options! We cannot all be experts in more than two fields at the most.

So let us harness the power of our population, our networks and ideas!

I invite every Indian with an entrepreneurial dream to consider this trade-off ladder. Trade your years of fulfilling others' ambitions to one where you live your own dreams!

And, if you aren't the sorts who receives a dozen new ideas a day, here are some to get you inspired.

Courtesy: YourStory.in

Please click NEXT to continue reading...

The author is a chemical engineer from IIT-Madras and a holds an MBA with finance specialisation from Wharton. Khan was formerly an investment banker with Credit Suisse in the Financial Sponsors Group.




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1. Music

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Bollywood is one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world.

Yet, we do not have a platform to do anything creative outside of studios, which historically have had high entry barriers.

If there were a platform where creative artists could discover each other's complimentary talents and collaborate in artistic projects, we could be spawning many Kolaveri Di's, without ever planning to.

I am not saying there could be a million AR Rahmans, but certainly there are millions of musically inclined individuals who could at least pursue a creative hobby seriously, without having to give up their primary careers -- if only we had the infrastructure.

So go set up desi versions of SoundCloud and GarageBand with desi tunes, Zakir Hussain beats or Hari Prasad Chaurasia's alaap.


Photographs: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

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2. Wireless broadband

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The availability of wireless broadband is going to open up a lot of hitherto unavailable opportunities like video streaming.

So real time experience sharing becomes possible with rich media. Take the example of eudemy, peopleperhour.


Photographs: Reuters
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3. Crowd source and monetise design

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India is a vast pool of talent in every single field.

You see any online outsourcing firm like Elance or 99designs: Indian service providers easily outnumber everyone else, the new emerging favourite in developer world being Ukraine.

If only we had a local ecosystem to exploit our unfair advantage -- of a young talented population outnumbering every country but one!


Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com
Tags: Elance , Ukraine , India

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4. Education and training

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Converting educational content for mobile devices -- ipads, smartphones -- into creative formats.

For example, illustrating a Pythagorus theorem through animation rather than an equation.

The content waiting to be converted is humongous despite efforts of organisations like the Khan foundation.

Similarly, the number of graduates who need to be trained to join the work force every year is immense. In every area, whether it is retail, banking or sophisticated financial products.



Photographs: Rediff Archives

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5. Social sharing

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There is great scope for social sharing of tastes, reviews of products and services (eg Fancy, Four square) and regional conversations.


Image: Android Foursquare
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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6. Productivity enhancing tools

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Productivity enhancing tools that can be customised to local usage and taste.

Some common examples would be:

Evernote: allows you to store everything

Tenxer: helps you enhance personal efficiency. Useful for those geniuses who are ambitious to maximise their output quality


Image: Evernote logo
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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7. Access to essential services

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Renting out idle inventory or expert time through online auctioning or discounted selling, such as

  • Appointments with doctors
  • Applications for self-diagnosis of diseases which have easily spotted symptoms
  • Online administration of healthcare
  • Reminders for children's vaccines and pills

Online portals already exist for hourly or fractional services offered in metros such as

  • Maids
  • Secretaries
  • Nannies
  • Pet minders

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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8. Lifestyle apps

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Lifestyle applications catering to services like nutrition, healthy eating, living, exercising, school parent interface etc can be equally lucrative.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
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9. Online social clubs for sports and adventure

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Start online social clubs for sports fans and adventure tourists where they can share messages, comment on matches live and bond over shared camaraderie.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
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10. Content analysis for behaviour prediction

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Analyse Twitter feeds or company e-mail exchanges to determine mood, trends and alert decision makers and affected parties.

For instance, you can analyse the effect of an event on a political party. You can analyse effect of bonuses on employee morale -- neutral, positive or negative.

If you are convinced by my reasoning to set sail in entrepreneurship, or merely intrigued by other entrepreneurs, come join the party.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier


Photographs: Rediff Archives

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