While India is witnessing a start-up revolution, regions like N.E are yet to wake up to fully realise the potential in the start-up space. There is a strong need for an eco-system to boost the development of start-ups in this region. From becoming a founder to getting funding, a start-up has to go through a journey and in this journey, learning happens through networks, other founders and an understanding the right time to pitch and also clarity on what to say and not to say. Starting a business is a difficult journey, not only from content perspective but also from the perspective of psychological support needed. Both support and ambition are important and has to be nurtured. This support should come from the eco-system.
In North East it is in seen that despite their calibre, the majority of the start-ups face a common set of challenges to sustain and scale.Some common challenges that they face includes the following
- Lack of exposure
- Access to mentors
- Funding, investors
- Networking opportunities
- Guidance on go-to market strategy
If we try to analyse why there are only few start-ups from this region, we will find that often the reach is not there and the network is absent.Morerole models are needed ,from whom new and aspiring entrepreneurs can draw inspiration.The right attitude towards ‘failure’ also plays an important role because entrepreneurship is all about failures to create a success. In the traditional culture and value system of north east, failure has always been considered negatively and that reflects in the persons social standing. However,in the entrepreneurial journey,success and failure should be considered as two sides of the same coin.
There is also a need to empower start-ups by integrating design thinking , creative capacity building and collaborative problem solving. Structured support is needed. While government is pumping a lot of money to create incubation programmes and infrastructure across the country, but we are far behind in terms of successfully operationalising them.
Specific support needed:
- How to raise funds
- Documentation support : Often entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas and bottlenecks in their mind and are not able to structure it in a document.
- There is a need to create a vibrant and inclusive community of entrepreneurs from N.E
The start-up ecosystem should be viewed as a continuum which supports and incentives all stages of life cycle of a start-up. This includes intermediaries that support
- Innovation and commercialisation in higher education and in small business
- Aspiring entrepreneurs via a pre-incubation preparatory phase to build a strong pipeline of emerging entrepreneurs’
- Idea and early stage start-ups so that more of them can survive and go to the market
- Growth start-ups and small businesses so that they are able to continue to innovate and build regionally, nationally ,globally competitive and scalable business models
What is needed
- Build a wide pipeline of innovative, entrepreneurially skilled young people with inspiration ,ideas, application and confidence to start-up with the right opportunity
- Evolve outcome oriented sustainable incubation modes that support competitive businesses that may not be venture funded .This will be the key for health of local economies
a. Leaders of incubators and accelerators
b. Expert mentors, consultants
c. Lawyers, accountants and other technical experts and vendors
4) Integrate information, infrastructure, funding and other efforts across the stakeholder groups that include government agencies, private incubators and funding institutions,
This will help the start-ups at various stages to easily navigate the eco-system and find the right fit for development .Thereis a need for organising academic programme/courses for start-ups. Since most of the start-up founders are from technology background, they have very less understanding about consumer behaviour and knowledge of marketing, finance and organisational development.
To make N.E Region a start-up hub,a special start-up N.E initiative can be launched with the aim to promote strategic partnerships, investment and policy interventions to create a conducive entrepreneurial eco-system
A platform can be created for cross learning and through this platform helping hand can be given to every start-up from the region that is looking to raise funds and grow. Best in class mentoring can be provided by renowned investment leads ,experts,angel investors and VC’s.All these sessions will prove beneficial in providing essential knowledge on the funding eco-system and business growth and this will eventually shape a start-up and increase its chances of success.Investor feedback is crucial for start-ups to improve their business models and take discussions on their funding requirements forward
Apart from investment opportunities, such a platform can also bring intangible value additions to start-ups by opening up connections for networking and market access and offering strategic and operational guidance.
Many colleges and universities have included entrepreneurship courses in their academic curriculums.They have formed incubators that have become breeding grounds for start-ups.There is a need to facilitate tie-ups with industry partners /corporates so that these institutions can provide a holistic environment for start-up growth.
In lines of Banasthali Vidyapith in Tonk,a very small district of Rajasthan, where the university runs a one of a kind incubator(AIC) focussing on women start-ups,a dedicated incubation for women start-ups of N.E can be started.
Mentoring support for start-ups should address the following needs
Facilitate validation of ideas and help in making them market ready and sustainable
Often ideas, products or solution aren’t entirely new or exist elsewhere if not in the same market. Support is needed to tweak the same, make it conducive to the market and localise it,in line with the local market characteristics and consumer behaviour
Often, partners/co-founders are from friends and family. Merely being friends or knowing each other socially does not help .The actual test begins when the going gets tough and challenges surmount beyond control.
Founders agreement becomes very essential as it helps to Identify each one’s role in business and gives signals to the investors about the seriousness of the business.Support is needed for identifying co-founders.
Business Model and Plan
Every business idea, in order to succeed in the target market must devise a suitable business model with strategies and thoughtful plans. The same needs to be well documented with relevant supportive inputs in spread sheets,excel sheets and in ppt formats.
Support is needed to help start-ups to communicate their ideas ,develop business models,identify their USP ,have flexibility and alternate options to address any eventuality in the changed market dynamics
Another area where support is needed is in making start-ups understand what triggers traction and what sustains in the long run
Finally,it is all about getting the start-ups pitch ready (both in content and presentation skills) because that is what investors look for.