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Indian Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: A Reality Check

Somewhere, it feels truly ” orgasmic” (Oops! it sounds a bit Sexist!) being a “Startup”.

So first start with euphoria, and have a look at an interesting video created by Hugh Macleod for Rackspace (Yeah you got it right, Robert Scobble is the Poster Boy for Rackspace).


Rackspace – Because the World Needs More Awesome… from Gapingvoid on Vimeo.

“Because the world needs more Awe­some, the world needs more Startups.”

Thank you very much Mr. Macleod for making  a style statement for startups.

Shall I wear my heart upon my sleeve!

Sweetie, isn’t it a  great statement for my t-shirt? Jokes apart, let’s do a reality check, and more particularly about Indian Startup Ecosystem.

To me, it seems the concept of entrepreneurship and startup is not well-understood, and the whole entrepreneurship ecosystem is inadequate (a bit harsh!) still evolving, particularly in India.

So , let’s first recapitulate the broader meaning of entrepreneurship and startup.

What’s Entrepreneurship?

Since I am not an authority, better to take quote from some authoritative voices. I subscribe to the following views:

” It is a myth that entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial skills are limited to those people starting companies. I believe entrepreneurship is an outlook; an outlook which, when combined with entrepreneurial skills, helps people succeed in endeavors across all dimensions. So, you could be with a large enterprise or an NGO and yet be entrepreneurial. “- S. Ramdorai, Vice Chairman, TCS, on “Emerging Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in India” in SiliconIndia

If you further need to know more about entrepreneurship, read “Ran­dom Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur” and “Redefine Entrepreneurship” in gapingvoid.


What’s a Startup?

It is better if we ingrain in us what  Steve Blank defines as startup.


Congrats Steve on being ranked # 1 in  the personal list of Scott AnthonyThe Masters of Innovation

(If you are still fumbling with the true concept of startup, being startup, read here, here, and here.)

Thank you Steve for identifying six distinct organizational paths for entrepreneurs: lifestyle business, small business, scalable startup, buyable startup, large company, and social entrepreneur.

I don’t know out of six distinct organizational paths identified for entrepreneurs where do I stand. But I do require risk capital to fund my  search for a business model. 🙂

Finding Risk Capital ! Seemingly a challenging task!

Forget about other challenges of pursuing your dreams of being entrepreneur, from family, critics and skeptics.

Till the time I find an attractive investment proposition, I am imbibing in my startup a bootstrapping culture (I am indebted to you, Mr. Seth Godin ) to get my venture off the ground.

Having said that, in my country, India, I am looking for some  investment from “equally crazy financial investors – venture capitalists”.

Sorry for shamelessly harping on my personal dilemma( Innovator’s Dilemma! sounds too pompous :)) about raising funds.

Hey the Mighty  Accelerators, Angles, Incubators, Venture Capitalists !

Are you there? Are you there in the “Ivory Tower”, meeting only your blue-eyed boys of IIMs and IITs?

Or, Am I a shy, introvert aspiring to be an entrepreneur, not reaching to you?

No offence, please, the  Accelerators, Angles, Incubators, Venture Capitalists,  if I couldn’t name all the mighty ones in right hierarchy ! Really, I don’t know who comes first and who stands next in order.

Please don’t yell at me, and help me get my  basics right.

I can understand that such a  person like me doesn’t deserve  even any rebuttal. Please accept my apologies for being so ignorant, and so naive a startup.

Though I am talking of startup ecosystem in India, but I am looking out for a reliable Co-founder, virtually I am on “founder dating”. ” Founder Dating”?

What the heck! I am I doing with my writing.  Again, making the same blunder of harping on  my personal agenda.

Awfully Sorry for a writer’s bloopers!

Domains of the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Let me start all over again and put things straight. Before moving further, it is better for me  to have a look at the Domains of the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. :


Click the Image for a larger view. Source,  Forbes Blog

So entrepreneurship ecosystem comprises:

  • Human Capital
  • Culture
  • Markets
  • Finance
  • Policy
  • Support

Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in India: A Reality Check

Learning from the Big Wigs of the Indian IT landscape, Infosys’ Co-Founder &Executive Co-Chairman, S. Gopalakrishnan says,  ” The entrepreneurship ecosystem in India at the moment has much to ask for.” He cites following examples to improvise the entrepreneurship ecosystem in India that includes:

  • The creation of an education system that encourages students to increase their appetite for risk, supports them to think out of the box and pursue their own aspirations.
  • There needs to be an ecosystem of mentors, and programs that nurture entrepreneurship.
  • There is a lack of true seed capital, as Venture Capital firms in India are mostly inclined towards late stage investments.


Interestingly, S. Ramdorai, Vice Chairman, TCS, emphasizes that education needs to adapt its curriculum to encourage entrepreneurial skill sets right from high school onwards.

We understand that entrepreneurship ecosystem in India has evolved since 2006, and despite the rocky terrain, an entrepreneurial ‘ecosystem’ has taken root  in India. The increasing number of venture capitalists, government schemes and incubators, academia industry linkages, etc have truly been signs of perceptible change in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country. Alok Mittal, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Indian Angle Network, questions the adequacy of Indian government initiatives, “India has been innovating since a time when almost all “essential ingredients” of entrepreneurship were absent – capital, institutional support and even well-developed markets and customers. But are things any better today?

S. Ramdorai appreciates the initiatives of Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by IIT Bombay, Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer by IIT Delhi, Indian Institute of Sciences’ Society for Innovation and Development, and Technology Development Board of DST that aim to fuel innovation, R&D, and hopefully trigger entrepreneurship.

Yash Saxena in BusinessWorld acknowledges that ” last few years have seen a number of startup incubators and collaboration platforms come up.” However, the article emphasized “mentoring “of startups, which provide critical growth knowledge as most essential element missing in the Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem.

I am sorry Mr. Mukund Mohan for your ridiculous headline calling the startup ecosystem in India “schizophrenic“. It is not.However, I subscribe to your view that ” VCs community needs to do the right thing instead of just saying the right thing.”

Incremental Improvements for Ecosystem

In our country, can’t we replicate something similar to the Startup America Partnership, which is an initiative to encourage and support entrepreneurship and to catalyze, scale up and enrich the ecosystem?  Fine enough, the Government of India has set up a Rs 5,000-crore ‘India Opportunities Venture Fund‘. But, instead of such piecemeal approach, we need to have a structured entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country.

There is  plenty of room for incremental improvements in many areas . Don’t you find that there are many time- consuming processes, which still create stumbling blocks in the path of entrepreneurship ecosystem. And, rubbing salt into the wounds are some ambiguous laws, slow dispute resolutions, and more.

So, to me, precisely lot much scope for improvement is there in the “Hallowed Circle” of “Domains of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem”. Right from building and imbibing an entrepreneurship culture, to nurturing entrepreneurship, to educating and reaching out to entrepreneurs, to making conducive policies weeding out the outdated laws, to creating more and more platforms facilitating communications among funding agencies and aspiring entrepreneurs and startups.

Maybe, I am an Optimist. Maybe, I am just a naive.


I am sorry Mr. Mukund Mohan for your ridiculous headline calling the startup ecosystem in India “schizopherenic”




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