Sig­na­tures of Suc­cess

Two broth­ers who tell you how em­ploy­able you are. A man who gives you a first-hand feel of ru­ral In­dia. App mak­ers. A car ‘spa’ owner. Here are 20 en­trepreneurs, stars of In­spi­ra­tion Inc.

India Today - - THE IDEAS FACTORY - By Dhi­raj Nay­yar

In­dia is not the best place in the world to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur. It is, by some mea­sures, one of the worst. Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank’s Do­ing Busi­ness Rank­ings for 2012, In­dia is a very poor 166 out of 183 na­tions on pa­ram­e­ters re­lat­ing to ease of start­ing a new busi­ness. For this, the Gov­ern­ment and its cum­ber­some rules, reg­u­la­tions and pro­cesses must take the blame. It is to the credit of In­dian en­ter­prise that it con­tin­ues to sprout new ven­tures even while it op­er­ates in a dif­fi­cult busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment.

In­dia’s growth story is driven by the strength of its pri­vate sec­tor. That is what dis­tin­guishes In­dia from its clos­est com­peti­tor, China, where eco­nomic growth has been driven by the state. The sus­tain­abil­ity of In­dia’s growth de­pends on the abil­ity of its en­trepreneurs to pros­per. The last 18 months have been chal­leng­ing for even the strong­est pil­lars of In­dian en­trepreneurs like the Am­bani broth­ers and Ratan Tata, as in­ter­est rates have soared and pol­icy paral­y­sis has gripped Gov­ern­ment.

But it isn’t all gloom. Big busi­ness has a loud voice, so there is a lot of bad news. But across the coun­try, there are hun­dreds of young peo­ple who are striv­ing to cre­ate new busi­nesses from scratch ev­ery day. Be­com­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is not an easy choice for them. Many have pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions and could find safer, lu­cra­tive em­ploy­ment else­where. Yet, they take the risk. Young In­di­ans are bub­bling with in­no­va­tive ideas and slowly turn­ing them into vi­able, even prof­itable, busi­ness ven­tures.

What fol­lows is a list of 20 young en­trepreneurs from across In­dia, mostly in their 20s and 30s, whose sto­ries are an in­spi­ra­tion. None of them is a house­hold name. But nei­ther were N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nan­dan Nilekani, N. S. Ragha­van, S. Gopalakr­ish­nan, S. D. Shibu­lal, K. Di­nesh and Ashok Arora when they started an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany called In­fosys well be­fore In­dia’s com­puter rev­o­lu­tion. Some of the ideas may seem too small to ever be­come big. But re­mem­ber that In­dia’s tele­com ty­coon Su­nil Mit­tal be­gan life by man­u­fac­tur­ing bi­cy­cle parts. Many of the young men and women fea­tured on the list are tap­ping into new mar­kets—in ru­ral ar­eas and the less af­flu­ent seg­ments that will grow the fastest. Oth­ers are in­vest­ing in the In­ter­net space, where the po­ten­tial to be a world beater de­pends more on an idea than on In­dia’s shoddy in­fra­struc­ture. Ev­ery one of them is do­ing some­thing off­beat. They may well be main­stream to­mor­row.

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