I posted a question on Quora few days back “Can India produce a Mark Zuckerberg” and the response was marvelous. So i decided to collate it and make it into a blog and answer some of the questions and problems related to it.

An average Indian spends about 30 minutes of his time on the internet every day.  On that Facebook and Google tops the list. Young men, college and school going students dominate the social media in urban India. A survey, conducted by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB, said the young men contribute nearly 35% to the overall urban social networking base. About 34 % are from the top 8 metros, an equal pie is contributed by small towns with a population of up to 5 lakh. Facebook virtually dwarfs all other social networking sites in India, with 97% of 5 crore of active Internet users accessing the site.

Everyone uses Google at least once a day and Google has been a starting place for all information gathering.

India has produced great innovators and entrepreneurs far better and far more capable than Mark. We have one of the brightest minds of the world. But do the current environment of India supports entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs? Do we promote Innovation and Entrepreneurial capabilities? (India losing credibility in innovation: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw). So what could be done to promote innovation and produce Mark’s who has built a global company at this very young age and made it to Ivy League. Is it possible for a young 17 year old teenager in India to build a company like Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg took the concept of social networks and improved upon the perceived flaws that were present in the existing social networking systems. Having established that, let me march on and give you examples of some Indian web based companies which are doing in their respective fields what Facebook did with social networks. Maybe they are not as much as worthy as Facebook or maybe they are not as visible as Facebook. But these start ups have revolutionized the start-up culture in India. (Redbus.in, yatra.com, zomato, Flipkart etc to name a few).

Facebook Revolution

Had Mark Zuckerberg not dreamt big, he would not have succeeded. He was competing with none other than Google! With the brand name of Google and Orkut, he tried to build a network where people find can talk to a wall (or a friend). Had he not dreamt about it, he would not have build Facebook at all. But Mark succeeded. He has done something, making a network of 685 million people, creating a platform to share their experiences, ideas and personal information’s etc.

Does India support Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship?

Most graduates/bright minds without doubt moves to Silicon Valley after graduation or they would like to get into some big companies based out in US. If an idea seems to be breath-taking, the founder is most certain, tries to get some VC funding from the Silicon Valley.

The Indian economy unlike its American counterpart does not work on innovation or never has. Zuckerberg would be a misfit here. He would probably be one of those rebel backbenchers, whose GPA is consistently in the bottom 10%. Who can hack entire servers, scrape data of highly guarded websites and create applications that were super fun to use. But his prowess would only be regarded as a waste of time in our society. He would have tried to rope in a low paying job, eventually getting married and settling somewhere in India dreaming of a great life and family!!

But these are not the questions that should bother us. The real question is that how do we create a culture that consistently throws up a Henry Ford or a Sam Walton or a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates every year? One big shark doesn’t make an ocean. We need the whole lot of them. That is going to be the challenge for India if we are to justify all that hype Thomas Friedman and folks have generated about us in the west.

Light of hope

We have the largest man power, brightest minds, yet we are afraid of our dreams. The only way possible is to dare your dream.

The winds are moving and we can see a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. Indian start up scenario is changing and Bangalore has been the Mecca of startups in India. “Almost every day a new startup keeps coming up here,” says TV Mohandas Pai, a former director of Infosys and a prominent investor backing new technology ventures. So, despite the potholed roads, inconsistent power supply and a mostly apathetic government, entrepreneurs say they are drawn by a unique culture of mentorship and networking. Bangalore accounts for 41% of all new ventures launched in India, according to the World Startup Report.

We do lack at some points and we need strict follow ups and improvements in those areas.

  • Lack of good framework for new ideas to grow – Until recently, it was (relatively) very hard for new ideas to flourish because of lack of funding. But we have few very good venture capitalists and funding agencies who really wish to see some good companies out of India,
  • Lack of infrastructure – This has been discussed too many times. India’s infrastructure spending has consistently been lower than what a developing country needs.
  • Flawed education system -The severely commercialized education system has resulted in thousands of schools that only teach students how to crack exams and entrance tests. This tainted route has to be changed. Starting from young age we should teach students the importance of entrepreneurship and effects of entrepreneurship on the society.
  • Moral support – Most startup founders would justify this. Friends and particularly, family members, pull you down! Relatives are skeptical and talk about your failure more than success. The culture will eventually change if we have a good start up culture and the confidence to build a company and make it world class.

Can the ‘American Dream’ be reversed in India? An article by Rajini Vaidyanathan on bbc news talks about US students and entrepreneurs moving to the sub continent to give rise to their ideas. Article says there is a big opportunity to innovate and build business in India. No market is saturated, everywhere you turn, there’s just so much need that there’s a lot of room to innovate. The scale of the problems you’re able to solve is bigger in India – those opportunities no longer exist in America!!

Follow your dream and success will be yours. It’s just that we take some time to know our own skills and expertise. Once found, nobody can dare to beat us!