While we often hear about the Start-ups and their stories, discussions keep revolving around the next big opportunities for the zeitgeist of the start-up world. It was fortunate when two distinctive technology leaders – Mr. Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Mr. Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Ltd, in a free-wheeling discussion, unveiled the surprise opportunities for start-ups, primarily in the sectors like healthcare and education.
According to them, problems associated with India’s slowing economy and persisting governance issues actually present numerous opportunities to young entrepreneurs. The use of new and smarter technologies in areas of education and healthcare is expected to grow the possibilities for start-ups and will lead to the creation of an IT-enabled low friction economy.
The analysis on early- stage tech entrepreneurial landscape in India, as per the 10K Start-ups initiative reveals that a substantial number of Start-ups are already focussing on the emerging industry verticals like Education/ skill development (25 per cent), Retail (18 per cent) and Healthcare (11 per cent). The growing focus on these verticals will foresee unlikely opportunities going forward.
While talking about “Aadhaar” as a new opportunity for start-ups, the leaders mentioned that Aadhaar ID can be used as a very powerful instrument, unveiling innovative opportunities for start-ups in the form of an app-ecosystem built around Aadhaar identification cards. It will provide a whole new platform for building apps and will try to remove inefficiencies in the system.
According to them, the role of Government is important to help jumpstart the start-up ecosystem. Funding and other investment schemes should be accelerated by the Government, wherever possible. However, unlike US, while in India, it is little risky for the Government to fund specific businesses, Government has other different kinds of important roles in enabling the start-up ecosystem. Some important areas involve right set of infrastructure, offering platforms and other supportive enablers to promote the start-up activity.
Focussing on the qualities of an entrepreneur, Mr Khosla mentioned that “Open mindedness” is an important attribute to look for in an entrepreneur. It is fine to be really good at one or two things and keep questioning yourself to explore things which are unknown. Persistence is another important quality of a successful entrepreneur.
While discussing the attractiveness of India in this economic scenario, Mr. Khosla mentioned that “India is the best destination to be in for the long-term investors”. According to him, a short-term view would throw up at least 10 reasons for not investing in India, however a long term perspective looks promising.
Over a five to ten year perspective, India is betting huge opportunities for healthcare, education and infrastructure sectors and will foresee a huge entrepreneurial activity. India has a reasonable portion of literate community, democracy, and platform to boost private entrepreneurs, many of the qualities, which investors do not find in China, makes India more attractive for investment purposes.
“Corruption, bureaucracy, infrastructure problems are prevalent in all the emerging economies,” Mr. Khosla said. “The best way to tackle corruption is to take the human interface out of the system. “A combination of Aadhaar and e-governance will be great for the people.” He also emphasized how Aadhaar with systemic solutions can help solve these problems in the country.
Vinod Khosla also demonstrated the key success factors contributing to the success of Silicon Valley. The ability to constantly reinvent itself is the unique enabler along with combination of diverse innovative minds. If one thing doesn’t work, Silicon Valley has a calibre to invent something different, which is reflected by numerous technology solutions offered in the areas of Healthcare, biotech, renewable energy etc.