While a corporate job brings economic security, an entrepreneural venture can bring in satisfaction of seeing your ideas in motion. The writer speaks to those who gave up the comfort of an office job to follow their dreams
Way back in college, Hyderabad-based Laxman Papineni, experienced the joy of doing what he loves and being his own boss. "While studying software engineering in the US, my brother and I set up a digital marketing company where we comfortably earned as much as an engineer's monthly income," explains Papineni. Both Papineni and his brother spent a couple of years in the cozy comfort of their jobs at Infosys and Oracle respectively. However, it was soon time to reunite. After selling off their first venture to an agency, the duo set up appvirality.com—a mobile app developing firm, which aims to add vitality to their consumer's apps and grow organically.
Like the Papineni brothers, a large percentage of Indian youth is either giving up or skipping a job to foster their own ventures. "For me, a job at an MNC was never an option. Even before I knew the meaning of a word entrepreneur, I knew I was meant to do something on my own," says Abhishek Singh, founder, Imly.in, an online forum that enables homechefs to sell their delicacies to hungry foodies in their neighbourhood.
Making The Move
Many make the shift despite having plum offers from blue chip multinational companies. "They are assured by the fact that the return to the corporate world is possible at any time and hence are willing to take risks early on in life when financial obligations are low and energy levels to try various options are high," explains Ravi Narayan, director, Microsoft Ventures, a global initiative to help entrepreneurs build great companies. To cater to the needs of such start-ups, Microsoft Ventures conducts the Accelerator programme which enables entrepreneurs to launch their company through an immersive 3-6 month programme. "Our approach helps startups scale their business, bring innovative services to market and reach new customers," explains Narayan.
Passion, constructive capital and strong ideas are the three prerequisites for a venture to succeed. One has to be willing to give up the routine comfort of, Monday-to-Friday, nine to five job and switch to working 24x7. "You must have a desire to change the way things work, be ready to work without roadmaps and chart out a course that is your own," informs Narayan, whose venture firm has graduated 51 start-ups so far.
While the start-ups are creating a wave of wealth creators across the country their ideas are also instrumental in bridging the demand-supply gap. Like in the case of Singh's imly.in, the idea for which germinated after years of telling his mother that if she starts selling the food she cooks at home she'll make a fortune. "I realised that there's no platform that brings together talented homechefs like my mom to earn from their culinary skills and foodies are in constant search of homemade food," he illustrates. Appointy, an online scheduling software that works with small and medium sized businesses to help them grow too works on the same premise. "We were a software outsourcing firm in 2006. Eight out of 10 projects, would ask for a scheduling page. In order to reduce our efforts, we created a small script which later got converted into a Software as a Service (SaaS product)," says Nemesh Singh, founder, Appointy.
There are two different types of challenges that every entrepreneur faces—one on professional front and other on personal side. Getting the right co-founder, hiring right people, funds, salaries of employees and office rent etc can be tedious. "I am lucky to have my own brother as co-founder with complementary skills. Hiring people and managing funds is always a problem for first time entrepreneurs," says Papineni. For Hari Venkat, founder, Mybustickets.in, the challenge was to find good developers and designers who could build consumer friendly portals. "I had to reach out to good designers in the US, train younger developers in India and pay attention to quality and user experience. I used my background in product management to capture the product requirements and work with designers and developers to translate the product roadmap to reality, " recalls Venkat.
On the personal front, family and friends may mock you because you may be working out of a garage. Moreover, since there in no inflow of steady income monetary gains will be under scanner. Speaking on the art of survival on minimum wages, Singh explains, "Since I started after graduation, I knew how to survive on Rs 2,000 per month. In the initial years, I did everything from marketing to development on my own. However, customers in India never paid, so I shifted my focus to USA and suddenly, I was making money with the knowledge gained in the last few years." He then got on board fellow entrepreneurs eager to work in this space and formed a team.
In order for our economy to grow, India needs more entrepreneurs as they will be instrumental in creating the required number of jobs. "Budding entrepreneurs need to stick to their plans in spite of hurdles so that when they look back after a few years, apart from the financial value they may create it will give them immense satisfaction in being able to create jobs and shape careers of other young professionals," says Venkat. For those who are still apprehensive to quit their job, Narayan advises, When you have been working on a great idea and have heard some tremendous feedback from potential customers, and feel that every day spent not setting the startup is a day wasted, it is time to listen to yourself and walk the road."
The Entrepreneurship ‘Pyramid’ in India (in terms of sectors and numbers of people engaged) is made up of the following:
- Level 1: Agriculture and other activities: Crop production, Plantation, Forestry, Livestock, Fishing, Mining and Quarrying.
- Level 2: Trading services: Wholesale and retail trade; Hotels and restaurants
- Level 3: Old economy or traditional sectors: Manufacturing, Electricity, Gas and Water supply
- Level 4: Emerging sectors (including knowledge intensive sectors): IT, Finance, Insurance and Business services, Construction, Community, Social & Personal Services, Supply Chain, TransportStorage-Communications etc.
Source: Entrepreneurship in India, National Knowledge Commission, 2008