"Small Businesses Should Do Innovation At Product Level"
Credited for founding FreeCharge, India’s first online recharge platform, Kunal Shah, currently is the CEO of the company. In the chat on chaat with Ritu Marya, Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur India Media, he talks about online revolution, how e-tailers are raising the bar for sellers and much more.
Why are we not seeing IIM students coming up with startups?
While talking to IIM-A guy, I observed that they were trained really well for bad news while entrepreneurship is about irrational optimism. In MBA they train you to avoid any walls and that prompt students to not get into entrepreneurship. I don’t think post-MBA, many students will take entrepreneurial route.
How important is it for startups to be present across the Internet and mobile?
It is important to be where the consumer is. The majority of consumers are using smartphones. It makes sense to focus your energies over there but that doesn’t mean you should be absent from somewhere else.
There is a lot that can be done at the grassroots level. How can entrepreneurs leverage that?
I think Snapdeal started the true marketplace model much before other guys. Therefore they have largest amount of sellers as they were focusing on sellers earlier. I think one just needs to give them the platform.
Let’s say you have 100-sq.ft store and you want to make the whole world of buyers peep into your store, then what you will do is forcing sellers to focus on the quality of their products. In another example, you are in the catchment area of Andheri, Mumbai, and there are 12 shops selling kurtis hypothetically and you are bound to that
But suddenly you have 5,000 kurtis to choose from and everybody is trying to really come up with the best quality, design and prints, then being an owner you have to understand that collectively the bar has to be raised. That happens when you make everything transparent and the Internet is doing that.
Lots of SMEs are not able to create an app for many reasons. Your take?
I think it’s stupidity for SMEs to look for a coder. They should use shelf products and start getting online quickly instead of trying to hire a coder. Small businesses should not look at doing innovation alike big companies, they should quickly become online and do innovation at product level.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (March 2016 Issue).