Ami Kassar is a typical accidental entrepreneur. Kassar had spent a decade in senior management with a large, national credit card company based in Philadelphia. When the recession hit in 2008, he suddenly found himself unemployed. His employer did not survive the recession-induced shakeout in the financial industry.
Entrepreneurs are folks that have no Plan ‘A’. But they have Plans “B-Z”.
Entrepreneurship is no accident. It is a choice. Contrary to popular opinion, choosing to be an entrepreneur is less about being your own boss or enjoying the freedom to come and go to work as you please. Being an entrepreneur, and a successful one at that, needs much more discipline than being in a job. The hardest part is that you have to take responsibility for yourself. It’s much more fun though – the uncertainty of your next paycheck, the fear of something not working, the prospect of keeping your team and partners motivated – and is motivated by the opportunity to make a difference.
Are you an entrepreneur at heart? Jump into the fray. Now is as good a time as any, especially here in India. And if you still have doubts, start by being an entrepreneur in your current role. Don’t wait for instructions. Don’t worry about policy. Don’t cry about the absence of an ecosystem. You have the chance to create an ecosystem that will allow you to grow. Follow your heart and go build the life of your dreams.
From an earlier post Business Incubation 101 that forms the preamble of my incubation idea. Thanks for all the offers of support – shows me that the idea resonates with many.
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.
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.
If there’s something India needs it is theez. Indiapreneurs!
I think we’ve waited long enough. I was at an event organised by the students of NIT Trichy early September and was pleasantly surprised to see how clued in this generation is. The problem is that our academia is still stuck in a time-warp. These kids need active mentoring and incubation support from professionals who have been there, done that. We need to move incubation facilities out of educational campuses and transplant them firmly into the ‘real’ world of business. A few friends and I are working on providing space and infrastructure as well as functional support (HR, Admin, IT etc.) and plan to pilot this in Delhi, Coimbatore and Hyderabad, starting 2010.
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!
This post is based on a true story. The story of Ideafarms. We started among equally uncertain settings in the wake of the dotcom bust and 9/11. We had no funds. We had no product ideas. We didn’t know who we would sell to. All we had was passion and deep down conviction that we would make things work for us. Today we’re almost 7 years old and alive and kicking. Ready to take on the current gloom with renewed energy. We’re back to our start-up ways.
The most important thing then was – and I say this with the benefit of hindsight – that we had no past to weigh us down; nothing of a reputation either individually or collectively that needed to be protected. Both of which we have today. So we’ve decided to shrug the baggage off our shoulders. Continue reading →