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'Scaling up is still a challenge for Indian startups'

'Scaling up is still a challenge for Indian startups'

Pramod Bhasin, Former President & CEO, Genpact

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Pramod Bhasin is the one who got the luxury to work for a large organisation like GE Capital in late 90s, where he gained potential knowledge and acumen, built in-house BPO division of GE Capital in India from scratch, acquired talent and inked strategic partnerships for company’s growth. As the head of GE Capital International Services, now Genpact, Pramod Bhasin set the ball rolling for the model of business process management in India.

He has been one of the pioneers who manoeuvred the knowledge economy in India. He interacted with Entrepreneur and shared that after stepping down in 2011 as the President and CEO of Genpact, he started mentoring the industry and emerging businesses as a thought leader.

Market Performance

Buyers from overseas market, especially India’s traditional exports destination like the US and EU nations, are eyeing India for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services due to the availability of cheap labour and reasonable costs. He says, “The BPO and IT market is also doing well currently. We already have a large market share of BPO and IT exports. I believe the sector will do well further. But, we have to really fight hard to see how we can become efficient in other key areas, such as hardware and semi-conductors,” says Pramod Bhasin.

He further explains, “We need to nurture it and allow the segments to grow in India as it has grown in other countries. We need to follow the best practices of other nations. The world is competing with us very effectively. Hence, we need to move as fast, otherwise we will lose the battle.” Pramod’s journey in Genpact has been fantastic. He calls the company as a people’s organisation. According to him, few companies in the world focus on the need of the people who built the enterprise and contribute strongly in its growth process. Talent acquisition and training people are problematic areas in India.

“I have to face these challenges during the initial days of Genpact. As scaling up remains a big challenge in India, there are only few companies that scale up soon after its inception, and Genpact is one of them as it has risen from zero to be a $2.5-billion company. Today, it is equivalent to Rs 15,000 crore in terms of revenue,” he says. Under his aegis, apart from India, Genpact started catering to the markets of China, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Scaling: A Challenge

In India, currently start-ups are really small in size; they usually starts with a little money and scaling up is tough for them. There is a huge scope for start-ups to grow in India but the growth is lagging behind just because start-ups are not focused on attaining the ultimate goal. He says, “Many start-ups are not focused and they never say ‘I want to be the world leader.’

Our aspirations are very small. We do not aspire to be among top 10 players in the world.” Indian entrepreneurs need to understand the market dynamics and continue to build Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem. The essential part in an organisation is the cultural expectations of employees. Company’s culture should be employee friendly. The success of a start-up environment depends on the work culture.

“When I started Genpact, we did not have the right kind of people who could help us with the infrastructure that was needed to scale, speed and build a company. Also, we did not have the facility for training people on IT, economics, and cyber security. So, we realised it and ended up building facility for training people. Hence, we created the culture,” he says.

“I think at times the decisions need to change. We have huge population of entrepreneurs in India but they are very raw. They do not know how to scale up their business; they do not have the expertise to market their products. They face problem in executing plans. They may not be able to penetrate overseas market,” says Bhasin. To compete with the world, it is vital to increase speed at which entrepreneurs in India are building their enterprises. “We need to make doing business in India really easy. I think, what the current government is doing currently, will help Indian enterprises. The government is trying to do a lot of things at the ground level now.

We need disruptive change to happen. One cannot live with incremental change,” he says. Today, Indian entrepreneurs need expertise, marketing knowledge and supply chain management skills in particular. “We need to have the expertise in market penetration. We need to scale up and figure out how can we scale the supply chain? How can we build leadership capabilities? Are we willing to take the risks?” asks Bhasin.

“Moreover, acquisitions are important in order to scale up. It is better to change the business model every five or seven years because the market keeps on shifting at certain interval of time,” he further says. The capital is easily available in the market. “First, we were funded by GE capital and then by PE companies. The valuations in India are really very high. It is not good for new business to start with high valuations because there is downhill slope at the end of it. It is very disruptive,” he concludes.

Edition: December 2016

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