Business Incubation 101 (India)


 This post is India centric.

Thinking lag is a serious condition. I remember how the older folks used to tell us ‘in our times things were so much cheaper’. Look at how the Government patronises unsuspecting academia and students by announcing Goals 2020 and supports it with Funding 1920. It’s not even smart political thinking. Call it Politicalaggard thinking.

Mayawati will spend Rs. 2000 crores (USD 400 million) dotting the UP countryside with ego-stroking statues of herelf and her mock leather handbags while the Government announces 1 crore for business incubation. Here …

The government has now formulated a scheme to set up around 100 incubators in the country to encourage the development of new businesses. It has earmarked a budget of Rs 1.13 crore for 2007-08 for providing grants to 50 universities and training institutes for setting up these incubators!

[read the original evangelising here]. And don’t miss ‘proud’ exclamation mark. 

(W)hen we hear of government funding numbers hovering around 1 crore ($200,000) for 50-100 incubators – in today’s world – (gimme a break) we are forced to be mildly suspicious of the political intent (or lack of it) and the seriousness of such initiatives. It is one thing to give a grant to a professor for a research project and quite another in the context of serious entrepreneurship in the real world. What could a graduating engineer contemplate creating with such a paltry sum which includes his livelihood as well. Let’s get real guys!

So here’s the deal.

1. First bring the academia out of the safety of the cocoons we’ve woven around them. Have them check out what the world looks like. Today’s world. Today’s India.

2. Next, focus towards incubating ‘people’. They should be the real focus. Find real mentors. People that have been in the entrepreneurial world even if they have failed. They are the best teachers. Not professors of colleges. Don’t talk about incubating business. Leave that to the Western world. Yes America’s a part of that set whether they accept or not.

3. Next, teach people to fish. No point in teaching fishing in your living room aquarium. At least walk them out to a brook. Pick up all the university incubation centres and physically put them off campus. That’s where the world exists. Not in the time warped government funded institutes.

Entrepreneur-ism is not socialistic. And capitalism doesn’t necessarily mean greedy or mercenary – especially in the context of India’s ethos. Make entrepreneurship an attractive lifestyle and stop being condescending irrespective of the preamble of our constitution. That goes for all those holier-than-thou bankers and VC’s.

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4 Replies to “Business Incubation 101 (India)”

  1. Great read. With the intellegence of the people in India given the opportunity to start their own businesses, I believe it would help the society as a whole. People could solve real community problems with these businesses. Here in Miami, we have only 2 incubators. Not publicized, pretty much under the radar. I dont think many people even know what business incubation can do for their startup.

    Great observations and information.


    1. I know they have a role called ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ in the US. These are typically guys who have “been there done that”. IMO this role is critical to the success of any incubation venture. And this is not an administrative function. Perhaps this is one of the key missing pieces in all such activities in India. You would expect the person filling this position to be a ‘role’ model ;-).


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