Celebrated on the 21st of August every year, World Entrepreneurs’ Day recognizes innovation and global advancement of entrepreneurship and leadership. It is well established that high-potential entrepreneurship that drives jobs at scale is born out of a culture of innovation and risk-taking. Entrepreneurship also breeds job creators as against job seekers, a crucial and fundamental aspect of India’s economic growth.
Commenting on World Entrepreneurs’ Day, Dr Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation, said, “Entrepreneurs are like Olympians; they go through a harrowing journey, bringing glory to their teams and country by creating wealth and jobs. On this World Entrepreneurs’ Day, we salute the entrepreneurs of the world. With digitization and globalization, entrepreneurial ecosystems are rapidly evolving. In less than a decade, India has become the leading nation for startups and entrepreneurs, having crossed the mark of 100 unicorns, with 100 more expected in the next three years. Total established and recognized startups in India stand at ~73K today. Besides India, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, and others are creating thriving startup ecosystems. We are living in unprecedented times for startups. Let the force be with them to produce the jobs the world needs for its growing youth population.”
The Indian startup ecosystem skyrocketed in 2021 to become the third largest globally, with a 3x increase in total funding over 2020. However, despite a stellar show, two challenges remain predominant in the Indian startup space:
(1) Many unicorns in India lack a compelling revenue base and require an infusion of cash flow for survival.
(2) The need to accelerate their digital transformation with technology and platforms through policies and support mechanisms towards domestic capital participation, favourable investment climate in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, incentives to set up incubators in every state, tax exemptions in foreign direct investments, and a high focus on startup infrastructure.
Says Sanjay Shah, Chief Operating Officer – India/SE Asia, Wadhwani Foundation, “At Wadhwani Foundation, we strive to support entrepreneurs as they are job creators making a significant and positive impact in emerging economies. They are true game changers who constantly innovate and rise by lifting others. On the occasion of World Entrepreneurs’ Day, I urge entrepreneurs to look at emerging fields like green technology (Electric Vehicles, Wind Energy, Solar Energy, Recycling and Waste Management etc.) because apart from the obvious benefits related to sustainability, India has the potential to create 50 million jobs by 2070 by enabling a green economy.”
India, no doubt, has a rich, vibrant ecosystem of startups, both in terms of entrepreneurs and the best and brightest in the country wanting to pursue entrepreneurship. However, to mitigate the startup failure rate, Wadhwani Foundation’s advice to startups, especially in the early stages, is to spend with caution, focus on the customer and the problem that they are striving to solve, and have clear answers to these questions:
A. How does the unit economics of the solution work?
B. What does it take to produce the solution?
C. What is the customer willing to pay for that pain?
D. How large is the addressable market?
The YoY annual growth in the Indian startup ecosystem is projected at 12-15%. However, to consistently achieve this growth, the startup growth needs to be concurrent with the growth of ecosystem enablers and market catalysts like accelerators, incubators, venture capitalists, angel investors, support groups, technology corporations and mentors.