Passion, perseverance, commitment and the burning desire to transform the world, are some phrases associated with what the society calls the 'rebels' or the 'entrepreneurs'. Without them, ironically, the world would be a dull and drab place to live. Each entrepreneur has a different story to tell, yet, universally typical themes of striving for perfection, battling defeat and overcoming the odds emerge, which an average 9-to-5 employee cannot particularly fathom.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen".
While some entrepreneurs raise VC/PE capital, others commence their journey with small finances from family and friends. The common factor, however, is that as their economies of scale reach their height, social benefits come flying in, catalysing an economic growth spree.
Take the example of an entrepreneur who grabbed a business opportunity in people consulting, and transformed his company into an employment hub which hires 1.5 lakh people today. Another began his journey at the age of 18, growing his auto ancillary business to employ over 80,000 people. These are some of the inspiring finalists that the Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) jury, led by the inspirational Dilip Shanghvi, himself an EOY 2010 winner, has judiciously chosen this year.
Here's why the present age is the age of the entrepreneur:
Business opportunities have never been so ripe in India. The present is an era where all enablers are set right; be it in terms of tax incentives, single window clearances, investors' confidence in India's story, or digital disruption. All this breeds opportunity to do business in India. Over the years, our country has seen a myriad of inspiring stories. Small, commercial banks have taken the IPO route with tremendous success and with the boon of technology disruption the agricultural sector has seen entrepreneurs seize opportunities for the greater good of the farmers. Even on the fashion front, we have entrepreneurs who have revived fading markets, been vindicated, and given their brands global wings.
With the explosion of IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence), growing television penetration, increasing affluence of India's young demographics, exponential growth in smartphone usage, increasing spends on e-wallets, lower data costs and increasing speeds, entrepreneurs have been enabled to grow.
Dejected due to not getting reimbursement for his damaged TV set, an entrepreneur ventured into setting up a customer service business aided by technology. It took this entrepreneur just six years to scale his venture to 100,000 clients across 145 countries. Or take the case of two cousins who began with one, small pharma retail store in a Tier-II town and grew it to a company which exports to over 50 countries globally today.
Tax Incentives & Funding
The Government of India's 'Startup India' initiative is testimony to how India has encouraged start-ups. It was evident even in this year's Union Budget which announced a three-year tax holiday in the first seven years of a start-up's life. This proved to be an added impetus to those brimming with new ideas. The 5% reduction in the rate of tax for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) with a turnover of less than INR 50 crore is also a welcome move that is estimated to benefit 6.67 lakh companies in India. Of course, the much-awaited implementation of GST will ensure a level playing field.
These much-awaited reforms have provided an incentive for PE and investors who find themselves eagerly waiting to fund disruptive ideas, solving the age-old problem of money for start-ups.
With success comes recognition. The acknowledgement that entrepreneurs receive at the national and global level, acts as a gateway for the initiation of more avenues for growth and funding from them.
Indeed, Indian startups, in Tier I and II cities, have a need to have their stories told. They need access to funds, brand visibility, recognition of ideas, and a platform to voice these untold stories. The inception of EOY was undertaken precisely for this very reason. The country has seen several entrepreneurs hailing from small towns, who ventured into businesses where only a handful would dare, emerging as winners. One such example has been in the FMCG market. The journey of this firm began from a small cinema canteen in a Tier-II city, and it went on to beat the global Goliath in that sector in some states, with its strategy and distribution.
Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs
Employment is a social benefit that entrepreneurs generate. According to the EY Global Job Creation Survey, of the 2,673 entrepreneurs surveyed, almost 6 in 10 (59%) said that they intended to increase their workforce in the next 12 months, leading to an aggregate workforce increase of 9.3%, up from 47% and 7.8%, respectively, in 2015.
Our 18 years of experience with the EOY has exposed us to gallant and intrepid entrepreneurs who have proved their mettle over the years. They have with most certainty, established that the scarcity of money is nothing but an excuse, and the market scope for innovation is limitless. Each of our EOY finalists' journeys has been exemplary and thereby truly inspirational.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is an initiative by EY. To know more about it, click here.