In recent times there has been euphoria around Entrepreneurship in India. It is widely quoted that over 500 academic institutions are encouraging entrepreneurship related activities on their campuses. Various government departments and quasi government institutions are spreading the message of entrepreneurship through the country. All this effort has been with the firm belief that ‘catching them young’ will lead to increased enterprise building activity – thereby generate employment and hence drive economic growth.
The intention at the campus level was initially to increase the awareness quotient and remove the social stigma associated with failure – but what we see today is sadly a degenerated set of flamboyant events aimed at showcasing a large number of poorly thought start-ups rather than a handful of purposeful ones.
Many of these start-ups are fun to watch, unfortunately for all wrong reasons. When you ask them about their firm, ideas, innovations, creativity, products, services, value, etc., you will be swept off your feet more often by their belief in their start-up rather than its credibility. You may feel overwhelmed at times by the oneness in the underlying approach to firm creation – complete under-preparedness.
The association of the word entrepreneurship on campus today gives the students an opportunity to differentiate themselves in the peer community. The hype that has been generated around the word ‘Entrepreneur’ has made it more of a fashionable trend than a serious pursuit. Both at the individual start-up level and at various levels of aggregation of start-ups, there seems to be a herd instinct at play. With increasing investments of national assets, shallow involvement of human resources and tender commitments by all parties involved the ecosystem seems to encourage entrepreneurial groups with mob mentality.
Without pausing to think on how to negotiate the challenges ahead of them, we see youngsters plunging, sadly unarmed due to lack of preparation in setting up their start-ups. Guided by only passion – and fuelled by the ever-helpful ecosystem they are able to attract couple of more people to join them.
While it is said that number of start-ups are on the increase it is also being said the mortality rates at infancy stage of start-ups are also on the steady increase. Amongst many reasons – the most common are failure to assess opportunity correctly, inability to understand customer need, failure to design a sustainable value proposition and inability to deliver value within the estimate. FAIL FAST is being misunderstood with FAILING SOON.
As a result we see a highly energetic group of enthusiastic minds, together in unison, put their creative abilities onto something that gets abandoned fairly soon in the journey. Typical to a mob which is driven by contagious frenzy, drawing energy from each other – these small start-ups tick on with little leadership, poor cause definition and poignant absence of structured thoughts.
They revel in the minute-by-minute thrill without planning or forethought. Just as mobs are temporary and transient aggregation of people, these start-ups also disintegrate without their own knowledge. What is left at the end of this short tryst is a bunch of capable but cynical set of youngsters – who neither fit too well as employees (having tasted entrepreneurship) nor courageous enough to become employers (having had an earlier burn-out).
Now may be the right time for all of us who are trumpeting the cause of entrepreneurship amongst youth to stop for a while and ask ourselves:
- Are we then as a society wasting precious resources (our youth) by allowing them to get deluded by this mob mentality?
- Is there a way to channelize these individual minds and bring some order to these mobs so that they do not run madly (in the negative sense) and lose their steam while also losing precious self-confidence and resources?
- Is it not a social need that this be checked and corrected early?
- Are there ways in which we can enable these young entrepreneurial minds to make the journey better?
- Is there also a way to make them prepared mentally and technically for the long haul?
What we are all trying to achieve is right – but how we are trying to walk the path requires attention and rethinking. Would love to here ideas and suggestion on this front.