‘Be an entrepreneur in college itself’

‘Even if you fail as an entrepreneur, you can start another business or get a job.’

“Earlier when I was an entrepreneur, if you fail, you are gone. That was the end of your career. It is not so today. That’s why I would say, it is a great time to be an entrepreneur in India,” Angel Investor and start-up advisor Chandu Nair, tells Rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier in the final segment of a multi-part interview.

  • Part I: ‘Entrepreneurship Is Exploding’
  • Part II: ‘Everybody can aspire to become an entrepreneur’

Do you feel there is nothing to worry about funds depleting or people losing jobs as a course correction has to happen in such situations?

This is only a temporary situation and hopefully, this is a useful lesson for those who have not seen a proper downturn in the last 15 years.

The last downturn the world saw happened in the 2007-2008 period, but India was relatively insulated from the global financial crisis then.

The last downturn India saw was in 2002-2003, almost 20 years back.

Now, they are seeing it. Many of the guys who are in financing or entrepreneurship have not seen a real downturn.

How will this affect them?

Many of them are running scared. The seniors are a little more stable.

A lot depends on their temperament and who their mentors and funders are. People are reacting differently.

Is the correction happening across the board or in select areas?

The froth is happening only in a few select businesses. And there is a growing disparity between the top and the bottom.

There is an increasing concentration of wealth and income in fewer hands.

We have seen how the wealth of billionaires increased during Covid times. But the average worker, the teacher or a bus driver lost his income and livelihood.

The disparity has increased in society.

So, what you are seeing in the start-up world also is reflecting this kind of basic inequality.

As an Angel Investor, what will tell you aspiring entrepreneurs?

Irrespective of the current trend, if you follow your conviction and validate assumptions, you can succeed.

Even if you get free money, do not succumb to the temptation of focussing ONLY on valuation.

You should try to build a business with value.

We see that, in the name of valuation, a lot of them seem to have sacrificed values.

You always need to check whether the customer is getting value, employees are looked after well, partners are treated fairly etc.

I would always tell them to validate their assumptions and stick to creating value.

What kind of future do you see for Indian start-ups?

It is a great time to be an entrepreneur in India today.

There is support across the board. Even the education system is supporting an entrepreneur.

If you take IIT-Madras, they have different centres for different stages of entrepreneurship, like a centre to help you come up with ideas, a centre to make that idea into a prototype, another centre to help you commercialise the prototype and an incubator where you get funded for the prototype.

There are mentors available to help you for free.

At every level there is support.

Even if you fail as an entrepreneur, you can start another business or get a job.

Earlier when I was an entrepreneur, if you fail, you are gone. That was the end of your career. It is not so today.

That’s why I would say, it is a great time to be an entrepreneur in India. So, if you have an idea, start when you are in college itself.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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