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, India Now

Start-Up India has given heart to a new breed of businessmen, says entrepreneur Aloke Bajpai

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his Start-Up India initiative, it was indeed a very proud moment for the nation. For the first time, as an entrepreneur I felt the government was recognising the importance of the private sector in the eco-system and a driver for GDP growth.

This was not just about big businesses. There was a conscious effort on the part of the government to shake off the legacy of the licence Raj and demonstrate to the world that we are ready to welcome new businesses and risk taking.

Till just a few years ago, the investment climate in India was in the doldrums. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done the groundwork, visiting different parts of the world and interacting with leaders and entrepreneurs. The government has also made significant announcements, promising to speed up clearances. Importantly, it will not only encourage the starting of new companies, but those that fail will also be allowed to shut down. The Start-Up India initiative will result in a mushrooming of seed funds.

The presence of seed funds is one of the most critical stages for risk-taking and is very important for the start-up eco-system. Many dreams haven’t materialised because of the absence of money to back the entrepreneur in the early stage. In 2007 when I started the journey of setting up Ixigo.com, India’s leading online and mobile travel search and planning website, it took me a year to raise funds. There was little risk appetite on the part of investors.

Decades from now, people will look back on January 16, 2016, and refer to it as a milestone event in the start-up history of India. Prime Minister Modi brought the government into the picture and said it wants to unshackle the restrictions and remove all the obstacles. “We will support you, you take the risk,” he

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said. This is the right spirit for the start-up initiative, which is a morale booster for all of us. The Prime Minister talked about the entire journey of an entrepreneur and emphathised with us. He also asked us to share with him the top three challenges we faced.

I do not think there is any other country in the world, except Singapore – and now India – where the government is so proactive in fostering entrepreneurship. For Singapore to survive, they have to be innovative. In India we have the talent resource, technically skilled people, innovative thinkers and a lot of creative professionals. And for Indians living in the developed world – where most economies are stagnating or are growing slowly – this encouraging environment will make it easy for them to return home and start their business.

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Many Indian professionals were not returning because it was frustrating to deal with all the obstacles in the way of entrepreneurs. The government has said it will make every effort to smoothen the path for the return of overseas Indians. You will have more people returning home, especially if the Start-Up India initiative is rolled out effectively and they realise that raising funds will not be a problem. When I returned to India after quitting a high-paying job in Europe, many mocked me, doubting my decision. It took me months to set up the company. I didn’t even have a credit card as no bank was willing to give it to somebody who did not have a job. And banks were not giving loans to start-ups either. The mindset has changed today because many of the success stories have been highlighted; there are many ‘unicorns’ (a start-up, whose valuation has exceeded $1 billion) in India today. And I foresee an even brighter future.

015 Tips from a Start-up veteran

  1. Excuses are for losers. Stop cribbing and startdoing.
  2. Think big. When you’re young, thinking incremental just isn’t enough. (Refer to the book Zero to One for more)
  3. You will get 100 nos before you get one yes. The world works that way. Keep faith.
  4. It’s okay to fail. Fail fast and learn. Real failure is when you stop trying.
  5. Stay focussed. Strategy is all about saying no to a lot of good options.

 

 

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