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Is an incubator enough?

There are very few avenues to help individuals develop the ideas

M Saraswathy 

M Saraswathy

Whenever a professor associated with and innovation of a foreign university comes to India, the first complaint that they have is that India does not bring out adequate number of entrepreneurs every year. While your country has ideas, the rate of execution is very slow, they say. And the solution that they have for this issue is having a system similar to the Silicon Valley. But, taking into view the current scenario, is that enough?

India has had a fairly good experience with incubators, who have been assisting prospective businessmen is developing and scaling up new businesses. While the scale and the number of angel investors available for funding these businesses may not be of the same size as that of Silicon Valley, it is a good beginning. The good news is that more incubators are getting added by the day. Canada-based Ryerson University, BSE Institute, and Ryerson Futures Inc. (RFI) from Toronto, Canada recently signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a BSEI-Ryerson Digital Media Zone.

This will be a new India-based incubator for entrepreneurs to fast-track their startups and connect with mentors, customers and investors. The collaboration between BIL, Ryerson and RFI lays the groundwork to help young entrepreneurs expand into both the Indian and Canadian markets and also touches on a broad spectrum of areas in the domain of development and professional development education. The BIL-Ryerson Incubation Center will be built on the lines of the Digital Media Zone, a unique model developed at that has attracted international attention. Successful businesses like 500px have been brought out of this incubator.

However, experts in India believe while there is immense passion for here, there aren't enough avenues to help individuals develop the ideas. While funding is a far-cry for first-generation entrepreneurs, the number of mentors and facilitators available for these startup owners is far below the required number.

Even if a company is successful in getting registered, the journey to scale up this venture is often tedious. Further, owing to the facilities and tax-benefits available to these firms classified as SMEs, government officials say that these companies do not wish to graduate into the next level.

Adding to this is the macro-economic situation, which has led to students decide against setting up their own ventures. Karishma Dave, a Pune-based management graduate had an idea for setting up a skill-development portal for blue-collared workers. While her idea was appreciated at various forums, she was not able to find the right kind of investors to get her project going. Dave has now put the project on the back burner, until she gets an appropriate person to guide her through this process. She, meanwhile, is joining a financial sector company in the next month.

While an external observer may term this as lack of patience, one needs to have a viable means of livelihood, before deciding upon a new venture. The success rate in some international incubation centres is as high as 60 per cent, whereas that in India is pegged at 35-40 per cent.

Is this the end of the game? Certainly not. With newer players entering the market to coach entrepreneurs and consultants turning their attention towards problems faced by young-generation entrepreneurs, there appears to be a ray of hope. However, the key would be, according a consultant specializing in entrepreneur coaching, is not just to get the idea right, but to launch it at an opportune moment and stay committed to getting it into the next big league. "If you want to be in this game, learning to accept failures and moving ahead is the biggest lesson that is needed to be learnt. Steeping back and correcting one's mistake is no longer possible, as there are competitors who would be ready to jump ahead in the race," quips the coach.

First Published: Tue, July 30 2013. 13:00 IST