D Murali

May a million entrepreneurs bloom!

Updated on: May 08, 2011




With a roundtable pitch of not more than three minutes, and consisting of four slides.

The latest post in www.sramanamitra.com, at the time of writing, is about a free online strategy roundtable ‘for entrepreneurs looking to discuss positioning, financing, and other aspects of a start-up venture,' held on May 5.

“We strongly recommend that you address the following items in your roundtable pitch: (1) A validated customer value proposition; (2) Detailed segmentation analysis and target customer definition at a fairly granular level; (3) A customer acquisition strategy that is pragmatic; and (4) We also recommend that you present a succinct summary of whatever customer validation work you have done. Your roundtable pitch should be no more than three minutes, and consist of four slides…” reads the guidance from Sramana Mitra, founder of One Million by One Million, US (http://bit.ly/F4TSramana).

The May 5 roundtable discussed five businesses, viz. EduMark (of Sumit Jha, New Delhi), a real-estate education programme; Business Intelligenze (of Rahul Sethi, New Delhi), a SaaS BI solution catering to the call centre industry; 10screens (of Abinasha Karana, Bangalore), a product for translating software use cases into robust specs; IndiaCollegeSearch (of Anirudh Motwani, New Delhi), a vertical search engine to address the problem of finding detailed information about various colleges and institutions; and Tabillo (of Sanjeev Arora, Canada), a collaboration and content management solution for SME customers across verticals such as legal, engineering.

Reassuringly, Sramana believes that all of these businesses can be built to become sustainable companies. Her optimism can be contagious, as I learnt at a TiE event in Chennai recently; a rapt audience had listened to Sramana describe her 1M/1M (or one million dollars revenue by one million entrepreneurs) mission.

“We need to move the number of IT entrepreneurs up from about 2,000-3,000 currently operating seriously in India to 2,00,000 to 3,00,000 over the next five years,” urged Sramana, during a brief interaction with Business Line after her presentation.

The only way to do that is with a methodology blueprint that large numbers of entrepreneurs can follow, in their quest to launching on their own, she explains, “This is what I am trying to provide with 1M/1M, on a global scale. Not only in India but also in the US, in Malaysia, and in many other geographies. In that sense, 1M/1M is a development economics project.” Our conversation continues over email.

Excerpts from the interview:

You speak of a million entrepreneurs, each reaching a million dollars in annual revenue by 2020, thereby creating a trillion dollars in global GDP and ten million jobs. Do you foresee IT-related enterprise to be a significant piece of this goal?

I do. You see, by the end of this decade, 5 billion people will be on the Internet. Just imagine the tremendous commercial potential, as well as the wealth creation potential of that online population.

As a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, what are your key recommendations to Indian IT entrepreneurs?

I have said this over and again, and this is the philosophy that the 1M/1M programme is based upon: Focus on bootstrapping; laser-sharp positioning; and be lean, lean, lean. (Here is a video on this message: http://bit.ly/hJMIou).

Is there a case for the larger IT enterprises to promote IT entrepreneurship and start-ups?

Many of them do so, mostly because that's a way for them to keep their fingers in the cutting edge thinking and innovation. 1M/1M is working with Microsoft on their Indian Start-up Challenge Grant, for example. We are also working with Persistent Systems, a $100M+ Indian outsourcing company; and we're providing a channel to some of the 1M/1M start-ups through them (http://bit.ly/eXNTzY).

What do you see as the gaps in the Indian ecosystem to promote IT entrepreneurship in a big way?

The gap is primarily experience – on all sides, from entrepreneurs to investors to marketers, especially in the domain of product businesses. India has come of age as an outsourcing nation. It is just learning the discipline of technology entrepreneurship now. And a lot of reinventing the wheel is going on that is perhaps unnecessary. This is the gap that we are trying to fill with 1M/1M. There is no need to repeat perfectly avoidable mistakes.

To IT students in Indian engineering colleges, what would be your advice?

Join 1M/1M, and learn the methodology, and even if you take a job for a couple of years, use the time to prepare yourself to become entrepreneurs. In fact, this method of having a job, a paycheque, and using 1M/1M in parallel to get prepared to jump into entrepreneurship is an effective path for hundreds of thousands of techies with entrepreneurial aspirations.

Published on May 08, 2011

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