I was lucky to be invited to attend this event. Being in Pune, we are often away from any possible buzz and I would have known about this event only when I opened the papers on Sunday. I was lucky that did not happen. It was definitely the Oscars for Indian startups with the who's who showing up. And it was pleasantly surprising that it was orchestrated by the Govt. of India. Here are the top 5 things I took away from the event:
1. The Government means business when it says it will support startups
I got a chance to meet a few officials and talk about some of the areas in which we are facing some hurdles. All those hurdles have been removed within a week. I no longer fear that I may not be able to move as fast as I would like because of regulation. That is huge! I have been an entrepreneur in India for nine years now and this is the first time I felt this. It was empowering.
2. Being an entrepreneur is sexy
The kind of welcome that successful entrepreneurs and influential investors got was nothing less than that of a rockstar or a Bollywood celebrity. People loved them, for reasons unclear to me; just like a rockstar or a Bollywood celebrity. The time had come and the men and women had risen to the occasion. People are taking risks like never before and the net result of all of those can only be positive.
3. The path ahead is unclear
It seems like midway through a football match, the referee blew the whistle and said we are dropping certain rules. There are no sidelines, you can use your hands. Most entrepreneurs such as myself, for whom circumventing regulations occupied half our mindspace, now suddenly have so much more time. How are we going to use this new found backing from a very unlikely ally? How are we going to pick up pace like never before. It is unclear and so damn exciting!
4. There will be blood
At the end of respected PM's speech, everyone in the auditorium wanted to head back straight to their offices or workspaces and get cranking. Everyone wanted to be the next something. Everyone wanted to solve a billion dollar question. But not everyone will succeed. At least not right away. We will all learn and get better and make a difference. But not all of us will be famous and rich. People will have to come to terms with being happy through the journey and not with the outcome. This is more relevant now than it ever was. Sustaining the life of an entrepreneur is something people need to learn. Because that is what we all will be for a long long time.
5. Show me the money
We had a lot of speakers come up and talk about how it is not about the money. It is about passion, sparkling eyes, tenacity, greater good and a lot more. It is not about the money. Yet, each and every person invited to speak or be a part of any panel had lots of money to his or her credit. Each one of us in the audience would like to get on the stage one day. But it only seems like that will happen when we make a lot of money. So I guess it is about the money. I hope that all current and future entrepreneurs do not feel this way. Respected PM said that you will make a difference even if you employ 5 people. I think that is a great parameter to have. Make a small difference and learn. We still have loads to learn in our journey as entrepreneurs and as a country. Let it not be about the money. But at the same time, make enough money sustain the journey and not have to give up.