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The Start-up Insurgence

The biggest concern India has faced in its growth over the years has been brain drain to the west, where they lasso any opportunity and make something big out of themselves. But not everyone is lucky enough to go to foreign lands and indulge themselves in a better aura. So, the people left behind, tried to get ahead of things and make something of themselves of whatever opportunity they got, whatever ideas they could reap but the red tape tied their hands and left them to dry in the sun. But in the post-demonetization economy, we saw an insurgency in the number of start-ups with amazing investments from around the world and seamless faith in their ability. All start-ups may not come out flying but once the bird takes the first flight, the next one is always better and longer.

So, is this growth story of start-ups a fairy-tale or just a wild dream run? Our current government has been criticized for being favourable to the corporate and diverting itself from the constitutional value of being a socialist government. This may not be true when looked upon its policies which have been more centrist than even liberals of the west. From amending labour laws to free gas cylinders to rural women and providing the poor with homes and toilets, connecting the poorest to the mainstream banking system the list goes on and on. This provides a sense of security and increase in self-esteem to the poor. But these socialistic approaches don’t dole out jobs for professionals such as engineers and other graduates, and all can’t be given government jobs as they all want. There comes the corporate sector as the saviour for the middle class educated students which provides them with a sensible salary, a chance to grow, and the ambiance of being a professional, but there is only that much that a big company can hire from the pool of unending seekers. Thus, the need for new businesses increases, and start-ups are one fine way to pool in money and pursue ideas in significantly unique ways.

Byjus has been one of India’s most successful start-ups which has even been sponsoring the Indian cricket team and competing with giants like Star and Nike for the same. The success stories of such start-ups are inspiring the next generation to put their foot out and create something which they can call their brainchild. But what constitutes a start-up? Just an idea, no. It requires a combination of people who are willing to get themselves out of their comfort zones and do whatever it takes to make their product better and more reachable. The outreach of the idea to the people or whomsoever the project is aimed at. These have even garnered support from influential people from sports, and the film fraternity. To name a few successful start-ups from India in recent years – Cred, Paytm, Flipkart, Dream11, Zerodha all of which are highly successful in their respective fields, be it fintech, e-commerce, fantasy gaming, and whatnot. We have a term called “Unicorn” to label a start-up that is valued at more than $ 1 Billion and India already has almost 39 unicorns, just behind the USA (137) and China (120), which is a great number for a country with loads of red tape involved in starting a business. Even though our largest unicorn, Paytm (valued at about $18 Billion) is much smaller than China’s Ant group (valued at about $ 313 Billion) but that’s how things start, and baby steps are what lead to giant leaps. An interesting fact is that India’s largest unicorn, Paytm, and the world’s largest Unicorn are both ventured by Jack ma’s Alibaba group.

On the other side are start-ups such as Whitehatjr, whose credentials and target audience are in question. So, just using your idea to manipulate people and getting a venture capitalist to raise money for you isn’t enough. Today’s world sees a lack of moral values, ethics, and integrity. Now it should be up to those leading from the front to teach the newer generation without romanticizing failures and rationally explaining the ability each one of us has to keep ourselves above the water and look up to do the greater good for society. Even though a lot of graduates are happily leaving their jobs and trying to get something for their ideas and now that even the government has started providing them with loans at very reasonable interests and even prize money at competitions for best start-up ideas are in the trend, but all is not hunky-dory in this world of start-ups.

For example, OFO, a bicycle rental company had secured funding of $ 800 Million from Alibaba group in 2017 but phased out of operations due to lack of commitment from the board of directors. So as a cautionary ending to this new and ambitious India, “Build with knowledge and let the sky settle the height of your dreams.”

Akash Ranjan

Intern, Goa Chronicle

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