India File

‘Entrepreneurs from towns have consumer insights’

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on February 01, 2016

“Soon we hope to have thousands of unicorns!” said Deep Kalra, Founder, MakeMyTrip, during the StartUp India Action Plan launch. But will any come from tier-3 cities? Kalra, the poster boy of start-ups, is optimistic. Excerpts from an interview with Chitra Narayanan

What are the challenges and opportunities for an entrepreneur in tier-3 cities, where Grofers and Zomato are shutting down in these places?

The opportunities are tremendous, especially with the rapid penetration of smartphones. Smaller towns are skipping a generation of personal computers. There is fast growing disposable income in these towns. Besides, entrepreneurs from these places have the real consumer insights and therefore are most likely to come up with the relevant solutions. Challenges are with regards to vernacularisation of content and lack of infrastructure.

Is there a correlation between start-up action in a town and the presence of a B-school?

There is. A college producing good graduates has the potential of going beyond human resources development and research. However, retaining talent is difficult.

As an investor, have you funded any start up in a tier-3 town?

I have – one of my first angel investments was in a micro-finance company called Utakarsh, focussed in Uttarkhand. Since the last year or so, I prefer to invest via some angel funds (due to paucity of time and also expertise), and some of my indirect investments via these funds have been in smaller towns. We will continue to invest in ideas that have the potential to disrupt and create world-class experiences.

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Published on February 01, 2016
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