A Brave New World Beckons Indian Innovators and Entrepreneurs

A Brave New World Beckons Indian Innovators and Entrepreneurs Lots of opportunities exist for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive in India, especially in areas such as technology, health care, education, rural marketing and social services. Among the keys to innovation are the ability to imagine tomorrow’s world, to think in quantum leaps rather than in small increments, and being prepared to fail. While Indians have strong innovative and entrepreneurial instincts, they have much to learn from the U.S. about germinating ideas in university and corporate incubators and providing incentives to budding entrepreneurs.

These insights and more were shared at a panel discussion titled, “How Can Innovation and Entrepreneurship Help India Succeed in Global Markets.” The event was held on November 1 in Mumbai to coincide with the launch of the Indian edition of Knowledge@Wharton. The panelists included Sudhir Agarwal, Motorola’s director of sales for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka; Dipto Chakravarty, Novell’s vice president for engineering, identity management and compliance; Promod Haque, a U.S.-based venture capitalist specializing in the technology sector and a partner at Norwest Venture Partners; Rajesh Jain, a technology serial entrepreneur and managing director of messaging software firm Netcore Solutions; and K.S. Viswanathan, chief executive of sales for India at Wipro, India’s third-largest software services firm. R. Jagannathan, business editor of the Mumbai-based newspaper Daily News and Analysis, moderated the discussion. Edited excerpts from the discussion appear below.

Jagannathan: Mr. Haque, in your long career as a venture capitalist you must have seen all kinds of projects and ideas. Do you invest in innovative ideas, or merely ideas that make money? Is there a difference between the two? What makes something truly innovative? Is there a basic definition?

Haque: Perhaps there is a little bit of a difference [between innovative ideas and ideas that make money]. Our goal as venture capitalists is to produce a financial return by backing innovative ideas. When we look at any kind of an innovation, we look at the commercialization of that innovation, which therefore means understanding the market size and the ability of the team, or the team that we can perhaps put together, to reach that market.

Innovative ideas fall into various categories. Obviously, the category that appeals to us is the one where the ideas are innovative and unique, and they also have a good market potential, so you can back them and make money. But there are some ideas that fall into the category of innovative but are in a niche market. You can’t justify taking the risk of starting a business when you understand and realize the potential is limited.

Sometimes you find ideas that are very innovative but they’re too far away from commercialization. They are more like science or research projects — innovative but more “researchy” …. Those are usually in the domains of universities or governmental institutions and foundations that are not looking for a financial return but are nevertheless very interested in advancing that innovation further.

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2 Responses to “A Brave New World Beckons Indian Innovators and Entrepreneurs”

  1. ptc Says:

    Considering the fact that around 70% of Indian population is still not “connected” through Internet, how bright are the chances of commercial success of Web 2.0 based ventures in India?
    Also which kind of web applications have better prospects in terms of commercial success e.g. social networking, online multimedia sharing, matrimony related amoung other set of web 2.0 applications.

  2. billydonovan Says:

    I just got a data plan on my mobile. I pretty much do not need my computer anymore since I do so much with my mobile phone. The neatest thing is that I can even watch naughty movies:) It is pretty neat, it’s called Mobile TV. All I do is point my phone to sexoncell.com and they have adult mobile movies in different formats like 3gp movies, symbian, pda or whatever. If you have any other cool sites, please let me know! This one, though, even has a free daily mobile movie.

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