A successful business leader and former entrepreneur, who in 2012 co-founded one of the country's leading lifestyle e-commerce portals, Jabong and now heads Xiaomi in India, the second largest market holder of smartphones in the country, Manu Kumar Jain has some insightful thoughts for budding entrepreneurs.
"Build something that people will use. Don't think about money or valuation. At the end of the day the product or service you offer speaks," he told Entrepreneur India in an interview.
More than often new-age business ideas put forward by entrepreneurs in India are borrowed from the West. In the startup boom, very few companies have been able to sense the pulse of what the market needs, and Xiaomi being one of them, Jain feels it is imperative to know the need of the market.
"Aping the west blindly is not the way. If something worked there it is not necessary it will work here too. India is a very different market and you need to build according to its need and requirement," said Jain.
Understanding India's digital landscape
Most startups in India in the past few years have been focused on the smartphone ecosystem, attempting to cash in on the galloping growth of smartphone users in the country, one of the largest in the world. Jain however, says when designing a product for such a platform on the surface a lot of things may seem similar to other markets but once you dig deep, it's a whole other thing.
"People need to realize that the digital revolution in India is starkly different. Most people who use smartphones in India especially in non-metro areas are using a gadget for the very first time, unlike markets like US and China where people have been using laptops and tablets for quite some time," said Jain. "People have gone from being completely offline to directly using smartphones. So innovations and products need to be built for India keeping its needs in mind," added Jain.
Bucking the trend
Giving example of how Xiaomi bucked the trend of heavy spends on marketing when it entered India, Jain says there has to be some level of risk, but if the product is good, loyal customers will speak for it.
"You need to believe in what you make, and not just build something for the sake of it," said Jain. "Today one of our strongest assets as a company are our loyal fans, who by word of mouth have been able to build Xioami as the second largest smartphone brand in India in a short span of time," he added.