The feats behind the misfires of Indian Startups

– SAHIL MURJANI

India created history in 2010, when it hosted the Commonwealth Games for the first time. Owing to the presence of this zeal in the nation, a young man from Ludhiana stood outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, distributing pamphlets of his new holiday website. Coding at night and distributing leaflets at day, the engineer’s venture fell right on its face. Asking for suggestions, he discovered that the consumers did not want a holiday package, but simply, a taxi service, which could take them to their desired destination. Hence, the startupreneur inaugurated an intercity taxi service company. The naive entrepreneur’s name? Bhavish Aggarwal. The founder of India’s largest ride sharing service company, Ola.

What seemed to be a misfired bullet, actually struck bang on target. But a failure turned to success story is not true for every foundation. Because when it comes to startups, all that glitters is not gold. Behind these billion dollar startup’s life changing work, there’s a tiny armor of forfeit. According to the 2021 data, 999 out of every 1000 startups in India fails. What we often encounter as innovative business models with so and so dollars in valuation, are merely the creamiest of the creams. Just like Bhavish, there are million others who have hit the bottom. Unicorn startups like Zomato, Byjus, Ola, Cred are just trees that hide the forest. We only hear of the sparky gossip where we get to know how these institutions have turned the tables for our country but one must understand that there’s a fine line of difference between a startup nation and a startup worshipping nation.

Another interesting fact about the startup ecosystem in India is the average age of successful entrepreneurs. It is evident from the recent news headlines that the Indian startup ecosystem is being dominated by budding business minds with young spirit in them. Despite a mind boggling failure rate, the young Indian blood does not seem to be stopping. Surprisingly, all the Indian unicorn (startups with more than $1 billion in valuation) entrepreneurs are below the age of 30, except 1 (Quikr).

After the haunting episode of Covid, the world economy has taken a crack in its skull. But for India, the writing is still on the wall: Startup is the future. With the possibility of rising business tycoons, comes a baggage full of defeats but the Indian youth does not seem to waver its belief in itself. For this Indian Gen Z, failures are only meant to be lessons for the future. The upcoming decade could undoubtedly be India’s, if concentrated efforts are channeled in the right direction by the right power holding authorities.