Posts Tagged 'incubation centres'

Does an Entrepreneur need prior work experience?

I was asked this question by Suhani who is with YourStory.in. While, she will publish an excerpt of my interview with her I could not stop my thought process from rumbling on and most of that does end up in this space…so here goes (my take, the unabridged version…). Hope it triggers a good discussion and thought process on this.

The truth is, if you are asking yourself this question, you probably do need the experience. On the other hand, the young somethings that go startup on their own don’t ask themselves this question, they are the “doers” who go get things done. Occassionally, they might reflect on the sub-optimal use of their time/efforts due to lack of “proper” training/experience, but largely, that wouldn’t deter them from pursuing their entrepreneurial dream.

Now, defering your dreams to go get some corporate experience under your belt is not bad, if you are not using that as a bait to go down the least effort path. Instead keep your eye on the end goal and keep working towards it, relentlessly. What do I mean by relentlessly? Be on the lookout for potential partners and employees who can help you achieve those entrepreneurial (Gosh! I think they made this word hard on purpose) dream, try and get relevant experience in terms of implementation, marketing, sales, technical exposure, management – anything related to your idea(s) that will help you understand the market better (enough to uncover pain points, at least!) or understand the execution aspects better or make you better at hiring people, give you better networks to rely upon once you are on your own etc. etc…

Can you be really taught entrepreneurship? Short answer is – Yes, if you were to go out and build something on your own, you might end up hours trying to figure something out that with a good training might be a cakewalk. However, Do you need prior experience before taking the plunge? Hell, No! Look at what the young entrepreneurs of the world ranging from Gates, Jobs, Yang/Filo, Bezos, Dell, Brin/Page, Zuckerberg etc. etc. have achieved. While, it might teach you how worthwhile your cause is and how underutilized you are in your job at spur you towards taking the plunge, for others it might build a comfort zone or a cushion beyond which their dreams might cease to exist.  In fact, they might even get loaded with the “large corporate” baggage so much so that they when it comes to it, they can’t operate in a startup anymore!

So, the question remains – is MBA an answer, then? Can one learn to become an entrepreneur at an MBA school. My take on that is – No. As much as a manager needs to grasp a lot of theory to get on top of the world’s learnings on management, each company, each entrepreneur is different, how they learn and what they want to learn is different. No standard school curriculum can teach you that. At best, it can help you with resources, mentorship and networks (which is great, by the way and still rare to get all the three together in one place at the same time). So, what do you do? The only way you can learn entrepreneurship is by doing it and if you can attempt it on your own through your own networks and building your own safety net, great! Else, incubators are the place to be for you…

All the best and hope it helped answer the questions of at least some of you and do ping with your share of stories…looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Tie-ISB Connect 2009 – Part 1:Incubators

I attended the Tie-ISB Connect 2009 this year and to say the least, it was one of the most inspiring sessions I have attended in the recent past. Let me go over some of the highlights for those of you who missed and for the rest of us to keep pointers in mind, as we move on…(with the “rodent-sized memory” of ours – courtesy Siddharth of Rang De Basanti fame, during the panel discussion on Taking India Forward)

I will cover Incubators in this session. This was the first panel on JumpStart that was organized by Sanjoy Sanyal and had as panelists Nandini Vaidyanathan (Founder ForStartups), Sunil Maheshwari (Founder Mango Technologies) and Deepam Mishra (i2 India Ventures). All the three had incubators in common, where Nandini helps setup & run incubators in Engineering Colleges, Sunil was incubated in IIM-B and Deepam is trying to commercialize the technology present in our top-notch IIT labs.

The broad takeaways from startup perspective were –

1. Be ready to fail

2. Focus, Focus, Focus

3. Think big, thing different, think you – when you are solving a problem

4. And, last not the least, realize that incubators are good for money and the relationships  – everything else you need to do on your own.

Nandini went on to describe the ideal incubator as one that believes, funds, mentors and bridges (helps with networks) but the fact that no incubator perfectly does all of these shows that there is a lot of room for improvement. At the same time, her own efforst in this area and increasing awareness to spur entrepreneurship in the community has helped create incubators in engineering colleges that can help young startups attain success. You can read more about these efforst at her blog.

Next few sessions were around funding, growth, partnerships, next 800 Million Opportunities and taking India forward…that I shall cover in the next few parts of this blog series. In the meanwhile, please feel free to share your experiences, if you are looking to engage with incubators, please feel free to ping me.

PS: There is a 5 -day workshop on entrepreneurship being held from Nov 16-20th 2009 in PES School of Engineering by Prof Nandini Vaidyanathan and interested people should register before Nov 5th 2009.  Knowing Nandini, I would strongly urge anyone interested in entrepreneurship and startups to register and gain from the experience.

Tinkering and Innovation

I was reading Nissim Taleb’s, Black Swan and something that he mentioned really jumped at me. He talks about how in the history no major discovery, breakthrough or innovation ever happened based on statistics and empirical data. It happened because people tinkered with experiments, data, projects, applications. In my mind, this is a very important observation, for any industry to proliferate and grow in a region it is important to have opportunities to tinker, experiment, fail….and win. Why do I say fail? It is not so much the act of failing rather the freedom to do so that frees the person from the burden of being mediocre and following the set path. It frees people to be themselves and in the process creating a network effect on industries across the stream.

Incubation centres play such a role and let people experiement, tinker and learn. But more importantly, the process of tinkering has to be easily doable, accessible and low cost leading to high quality, highly reliable network for innovation for anyone who decided to do so. This is one of the reasons why product innovation has not taken off in such a big way in India, yet. Especially creating products that require large capital infusion to create the basic prototype before the customer can fund it by being “raving fans”.

What do you think? How important is tinkering and access to experimentation in creating product companies in a region? How important is this within a company? Can we hold Google’s 20% innovation time as a rule as opposed to an exception, within companies, now that we know this fact?


Blog Stats

  • 27,257 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,280 other followers


%d bloggers like this: