Entrepreneurship: No Longer A Lonely Journey Clearly, startups are finally getting their due in the country and the pace will only pick up in the coming times.

By Vikram Upadhyaya

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Harsh Mariwala, Chairman, Marico,one of India's largest Indian consumer brands, had once said that entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. I agree that what he said might have been true a few years ago. But,given the way the startup ecosystem has shaped up in the country over the last couple of years,the journey now seems far from lonely.

If we look at the story of an entrepreneur a few years ago, the scenario was very different from what the budding startup goes through today. As little as 3-4 years back, for an entrepreneur to get investment was a big deal. In fact,it was a big deal to even get an appointment with a potential investor. Entrepreneurs had to go through a number of canceled meetings before landing the chance to meet with a potential investor.

Moreover, with a limited budget, most entrepreneurs had to take care of everything on their own – right from fulfilling a customer's order, to code fixing during an update as well as subjectively reviewing one's own progress over a stipulated time period. With the lack of money came the insecurities bundled along; startup founders would see their peers getting promoted, enjoying hefty pay packages and luxuriously spending their bonus amount, while the entrepreneur would be in a spot just trying to make ends meet.

As a result, even families and friends would discourage an aspiring entrepreneur from taking the plunge into the uncertain future of launching a startup, where there was no guarantee of success.

Often, the people whom one expected to get the maximum support from, (even if it meant getting just moral support and encouragement and not necessarily financial support), ended up being their biggest detractors, thus, making the journey seem even lonelier and disheartening.

Consequently, most entrepreneurship dreams were killed even before the journey began since no one wanted to take the risk of failing and disappointing their families and well-wishers at the same time.

However, the startup scenario has seen a drastic shift over the last couple of years. The entire ecosystem has seen a 360 degree shift, with it becoming more supportive than ever.

Be it startup incubators and accelerators, investors, corporate, ex-corporate honchos, the government, corporates and even people in general, there has been a huge shift in the way people viewed startups and entrepreneurs, and as a result of this attitudinal shift, more and more people are now willing to give wings to their dreams.

While earlier, failing as an entrepreneur often meant the end of one's career, it is no longer so, with more and more corporates seeking risk takers; people who have an entrepreneurial mindset, have "been there, done that', and therefore, bring far more experience to the table than those who've always played it safe.

Hence, for an entrepreneur of 2016, the starting up is certainly no lonely journey. In fact, I truly believe that now is the perfect time to start up in India.

If you look closely at the entrepreneurship ecosystem today, you can see that not only are investors keen on investing in novel ideas and concepts but are also willing to share their experiences with entrepreneurs and mentor them so theycan be successful.

Moreover, a lot of corporate honchos and successful entrepreneurs are forthcoming in assisting the next generation of startups by mentoring them, often without expecting anything in return. It is their way of giving back to the ecosystem.

Similarly incubators and accelerators provide these startups access to the necessary resources, mentoring from the best names in the business and the "right' connections within the ecosystem, thus making the journey smoother and giving them a better chance for things to "click'.

Also, with the government putting more focus on India as a startup nation, a slew of measures have been introduced to encourage entrepreneurship in the country.

This is because the government has realized the potential of startups in creating more opportunities, ensuring faster growth and propelling the economy into a far higher trajectory. As a result, foreign investment too has been pouring in faster than ever before.

Even startup events such as those events organized by industry bodies like TiE and NASSCOM have been instrumental in giving the much-needed push to startups. The exposure gained at these platforms provides entrepreneurs with valuable insight which comes handy in running their ventures and gives them an edge over others.

These events might be relatively a new concept in the country, but what they do is bring together the best startup ventures in the country on one platform and give all entrepreneurs an equal opportunity to reach their optimum potential by giving them access to renowned investors, mentors and other resources, that they can tap into and build synergies with for the long run.

Clearly, startups are finally getting their due in the country and the pace will only pick up in the coming times. What we've seen right now is just the tip of the iceberg and the exciting times have just begun to roll. With support pouring in from all quarters, the "lonely times' are certainly over.

Vikram Upadhyaya

Chief Mentor & Accelerator Evangelist, GHV Accelerator

Vikram is also the Founding Board Member of the Indian Angel Network Incubator and an advisor to projects being undertaken through the Telecom Centres of Excellence (TCOE).

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