We all know what a start-up is, but, are we familiar with a start-up culture in its literal sense? It may be called as an environment, typically a workplace environment that values problem-solving and promotes open communication or it may be defined as a combination of shared values, artefacts (involving all those aspects which portray the organisation’s culture) and underlying expectations of a firm i.e. how other people, within the organisation perceive the organisation.
India is rapidly scaling to become the hub of start-ups. With initiatives like Make in India, Start-up India, Stand up India, Skill development centers and an exponential growth in the number of incubators, entrepreneur, and start-up hubs; India ranks 3rd globally with more than 5200 start-ups, adding 1000 in the year 2017 itself, creating over 80,000 jobs (NASSCOM Report, 2017) and this number is expected to increase over time. Furthermore, India is doing better in terms of ease of doing business year after year thus becoming the preferred investment destination (Presently ranked at 100th position out of 190 countries). All this has resulted in the creation of more jobs and innovations.
USA’s population is about 326 million whereas, in Sweden, the population is roughly 10 million. India has a humongous population of more than 1320 million (1.32 billion), way more than the two countries combined but despite this fact, on comparing Indian start-up ecosystem with that of other countries like USA or Sweden, a huge difference can be noticed.
US start-up ecosystem is jam-packed with capital, i.e., there is a lot of liquidity. Liquidity here means containing large amounts of money, that can be easily converted into cash, because of which entrepreneurs have better and innovative ideas and can implement it more effectively. An interesting thing to note here is that in the USA, seed stage investors search for the right entrepreneur. They struggle to find the best initiators as they want themselves to be recognized as the first choice of a good entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are given their due respect. Investors there want to work with the creators, innovators and emphasize on helping a creative idea to develop and succeed. They even let them test the products made before they are released into the market thus showing how mature its business ecosystem is.
Stockholm (capital of Sweden) is the second most high-volume tech hub in the world, right behind Silicon Valley. It won’t be wrong to say that it is the start-up capital of Europe. Candy Crush parent King, Minecraft maker Mojang and Skype, Stockholm’s first unicorn (the name given to tech companies having valuations of at least $1bn), all have Swedish makers behind them. It’s no surprise now that the free file-sharing websites The Pirate Bay, Kazaa, and uTorrent were also founded in Sweden. The reason for their success is their belief to prioritize the collective over the individual and promote humbleness over grading. Their culture lays its attention towards solving a problem rather than on making money. They focus on creating a culture of open access and promoting entrepreneurial abilities.
On the other hand, in India, those having a brilliant idea which is ahead of time are not always supported. Investors are usually sceptical and want a profitable return on their investments because of which they focus more on tried and tested business models. At least till 1991, this was the case. Back then, when J.R.D. TATA, a big name in the industry now, told Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru about his concerns regarding the rising population of the country (probably the first one to ever say that), he was asked to shut his mouth as he believed, a large population is the greatest source of strength of any nation. Comparatively, India is more individualistic in nature which is one of the many reasons why Indian Start-ups fail.
Things are changing now. On 13th October 2017, India and Sweden came together to work for the improvement of their respective start-up industries and launched “A Sweden-India ‘Start-up Sambandh’ initiative. Swedish makers, who developed the now $8.5 billion music streaming service Spotify, can play the role of mentors to India’s increasing great ideas. Recently, the government of India has taken up initiatives like Start-up India Madhya Pradesh Yatra to promote entrepreneurship in rural and non-metro regions across states. Another measure is a 3 month Integrate to Innovate (i2i) Program which is targeted at nurturing collaboration between start-ups and large corporates leading an open innovation ecosystem in the country (Start-up India Hub, 2018).
We have come across various start-ups stories from India lately like Flipkart, Ola Cabs, Zomato, Paytm to name a few who have carved a niche for themselves in their respective fields. It all happened due to their focus on building a culture wherein there is transparency, free-flow of ideas, communication and a clear goal. Such stories should be encouraged. It is time that Indian business culture begins to encourage the information gained from failures to be applied to future successes. Given that the vast majority of start-ups journey end before taking flight, a business environment must be cultivated wherein limited funding and the lack of a proven business model should not act as constraints. People should be encouraged to envision, innovate and become job creators instead of job seekers.
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