The Big Indian Week Ahead. What does it mean for startups?

An Entrepreneur's Perspective
Deepak’s Den on Indian Elections 2014 Image Source:

Everybody is eagerly looking forward to the Big Indian Week Ahead. The largest democracy of the world is all set to see the effect of its middle class. Seems, we have the largest middle class today compared to anybody else in the world. So, lets try to see what does it mean for startups.

  • The Power of Dreams: I would compare RaGa and NaMo with Family business and Entrepreneurial business. While family business houses such as Reliance, Godrej, Bajaj and many more has relied on their dynasty to continue to do business, the innovation and emergence of the country was fulfilled by ambitious and aspirational Entrepreneurs. RaGa, for me, represents the first category. Studied abroad, touched Indian soil when things needed him, till then enjoyed and grew with all hobbies and came back to face his destination of taking over the reserved seat.That’s RaGa for me. Comparing this to Family business houses is no different. Kids go to prestigious Schools abroad (not because they are necessarily good but rather they could afford the donation money there and not compete in our highly competitive environment of India), grow up on foreign solid with occasional recreational trip to motherland, then marry an equally reputed family girl with all lavishness, a tiny percentage of which an ordinary person can’t afford and then come to be the MD of the country. Though it has helped a lot of them to get global attention but it lacked serious ground reality for India.Compared this to an unknown person till 2000 and suddenly, he becomes to emerge as the strongest CM with a lot of brand value to aspire to be the PM of the country. When Entrepreneurs the timeline chart of NaMo, they feel inspired, develop aspirations, gain courage to face adversities to realize their dreams. If a Chaiwala can aspire to be the PM of world’s largest democracy, then Entrepreneurs can, also, aspire to chase their dreams to build Google and Facebook out of India.
  • Impact of Technology: This election is very special for technology perspective. While it is a well known thing by now that NaMo is a very tech savvy person compared to any of our other politicians in any political party. As I see today, e-governance has played an extremely important in the states of Karnataka and Gujarat. I am keen to see more such initiatives at national level but more keenly, I look forward to clean and focused implementation. For instance, the Aadhar initiative of UPA government was good but failed to create or leave its impacts. With NaMo posting his selfie on vote day, I, optimistically, look forward for him to take the supreme power of this country and lead it in the directions of technological advancement. Learning to be focus and find ways to reach customers is something startups can take. But most importantly, technology can take any idea. All magic can be done by technology and not idea. In today’s world, business relies on technology and not otherwise.
  • Connect & Relations: While NaMo connected with the people of India through the major issues (or so-called pain points in the startup ecosystem) of corruption, bad governance, kneeling crawling economy, unemployment and bad infrastructure, RaGa attempted to try to connect all the wrong things. The medium of connection was awesome – social media was used for the very first time in Indian politics like never before. I would like to credit this to another emerging stalwart, Arvind Kejriwal for the same for his superb reach and campaign during Delhi state elections. Startups should learn to identify their customers and try modern means to reach them. Social Media is awesome and I am strong believer of it. Irrespective of whether you are a B2B or B2C firm, but the means of reaching customers has to be based on modern means and most importantly, product.
  • Doing Business: Clean and good governance with setting right expectations is the key. Allies will continue to play an important role. In the past, we have seen allies quenched their thirst with power and money. Hopefully that would change this time. While UPA has not been able to hold on to its allies, Third front failed to kick off, NDA has faired well and I hope that there would be clarity in the role of the allies. Startups should learn to keep things clean and transparent. The more opaqueness, the more issues in future.
  • Fund-Raising & Investment: Raising money has always been controversial. There were ample evidences in the past where wrong people have raised money successfully and right ones never could. This election seems to have blown $5B. One can imagine how much money is this. While AAP has been tremendously successful in raising funds by appealing to people, businessmen with appropriate interests were involved in supporting respective political parties. But one thing is sure, when people support AAP or businessmen support political parties. So, investors play a very critical factor for every startup and startups should choose them cautiously for their long term success.
  • The Driver Seat: While INC chose to appoint RaGa from family dynasty with no track record, NaMo was chosen based on hos past history and track record. A spectacular 3-time win in State Elections and a very clean record of governance made NaMo a clear leader. Consistently, NaMo has been the frontrunner in all activities, A CEO plays a very role in a s tartup. A CEO should contribute to the product, should find the first few bucks from customers, should hold strong hold on the activities in the startup and has steel balls to take rough and tough decisions in time. Seat is earned not taken.

Irrespective of who wins, we look forward to a stable government supporting and embracing an Entrepreneurial culture and I would look froward to a NDA government with clean and transparent governance.

DISCLAIMER: I support Aam Aadmi Party but as I see it, this election is definitely between NDA and UPA and given an option, I would definitely not look forward to a hung parliament.

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