India to ride disruption wave

Start-ups need to come up with home-grown solutions that are designed for India

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India to ride disruption wave


Will India become the top start-up hub in the world over the next three years? Yes it wil.

This is no random crystal ball gazing. It is based on three fundamentals that point to this inescapable projection. One, the sheer need in the market, driven by economic growth and consumer confidence. With growth rate expected to accelerate further from 7.2% in FY 2016-17 to 7.7% in FY 2017-18 as per the IMF World Economic Outlook Update; and with a world-beating consumer confidence index at 136 in Q4 2016 as per Nielsen; the India’s domestic market and consumer sentiment is perhaps the strongest market driver in the world today. Two, the sheer volume of young men and women with entrepreneurial ambition. A recent survey indicated that over 83% of India’s workforce – or 4 out every 5 – would prefer to be an entrepreneur. Three, the phenomenal growth in the number of start-ups as a result of the first two factors.

To get to the pinnacle, India will ride the growing wave of disruptors and accelerators. By disruptors, I mean disruptive minds rather than disruptive technology. Technology has now become equally accessible to pretty much everybody. If you have been paying attention to the changing environment, you will note that technology is flattening out as a level playing field. It’s all there for the taking in the cloud ‘as a service.’

So, now the differential lies in the creativity, the approach that drives disruptive businesses.

Disruption is not kind or polite, nor does it follow existing rules. It is scruffy and chaotic. It looks for pain points rather than needs. Disruptive businesses are built on the premise that things are not good enough and that the key to change is within their grasp or well within reach.

That is the sentiment I am seeing increasingly among start-ups in India. It does not have to be large-scale or wide scale change. It can be purely localised, with a single point benefit. One that is strong enough to tip the scales in their favour. And then again, it can be big with the promise of global change.

In addition to the disruptors  are the accelerators who create the momentum for business to meet the exponential growth in demand in a growing economy. Those who can catalyse change, and help transform the landscape as we knew it. The environment for acceleration is ripe, not only through conventional methods but also through collaborative innovations such as the Start-up Expo.

However, according to The Economist, the incumbents are not always predestined to be the victims. Legacy players, too, are on the lookout for disruptive prospects.

The movement is already evident at the grass roots. While Bengaluru, Mumbai and Gurgaon hog the spotlight right now, the buzz is getting louder in Tier II cities and even smaller towns across the country.

However, there is one small but vital piece of advice I’d like to offer start-ups. While this past decade or so has witnessed a lot of big start-up successes such as Ola, Flipkart, Paytm, Snapdeal, Zomato and more, many of these have come from ideas that had already been tried and tested in the West. As the Indian market grows in maturity, the need of the day is a little different now. We need our own home-grown solutions that are designed for India, and built for India, to solve the distinct problems of the Indian customer. We need ground-up innovators, those who have a keen insight into what’s broken and what can be mended through disruptive solutions. A quick look around and you will note that the list is endless.

So, while it may be tempting to follow the highways of Silicon Valley, it is the narrow Indian lanes where success is more likely to be found. That is where the true promise of our start-up universe is waiting to be realised.


  • Disruptors, here, refers to disruptive minds rather than disruptive technology
  • India will be riding the growing wave of disruptors and accelerators
  • Disruptors question status quo in all areas, capitalise on chances to improve

The writer is founder, Genpact, chairman, CLIX Capital Services and president, TiE Delhi-NCR

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