To the Technoprenuer in you and me!
It’s been quite a while since I penned an article. My dear friend and colleague - Rohit asked me if I could contribute to share some of my experience and knowledge that I gained over my years of work-life. I like the idea and it would seem to dust away some of the rust that has been gathered in my mind and give an outlet to express some thoughts and opinions.
Necessity is the mother of invention and it has been time and again proven that it has been the case since time immemorial. Probably the best invention of all time has been the Circle. Without the shape of circle, we would not have made progress in many spheres of life. For most of us in India, innovation is most likely associated with "Jugaard" or in simple words - workaround. When we talk about innovation, does it mean that innovation can happen in a certain place? a person? or in a day, week or a year?
To my mind, innovation is an idea that is born in the mind of a genius talent before anyone has envisioned about it. Most classical example in the yester years (100 years ago,), was the invention of electric bulb by Thomas Alva Edison. So, powerful was this invention that it lead to innovative uses of the electric bulb from lighting, signalling to heating applications. In a way, invention is a disruptive use case of an innovation.
Edison was not alone, he had a dedicated team of his behind him who worked steadfastly to achieve the impossible. The most striking character of any innovator is that he is big dreamer, he sees the opportunity in an adversity.We can quote Apple as the most innovative organisation in recent times.
Taking cue from the recent developments in science, one may see that there are entrepreneurs ranging from college drop outs to PhDs. These people have an inherent desire to solve a unique problem and overcome them. Almost a decade ago we saw an advertisement on “Ideating” from IBM. They showcased how big data can be a disruptive technology and what potential benefits it can bring. This unique technological innovation has spearheaded development of artificially intelligent machines able to learn from observation, records and even unstructured data. Noteworthy are the automated medical diagnosis, stock price evaluation and analysis, voice recognition, fraud detection. Though AI is a buzz word, it is safe to place Machine learning as the appropriate one.
Now, coming to how a normal person like you and me find inspiration from a piece of technology to innovate, let me quote an example of a startup - Sigtuple. It is a startup founded by 3 colleagues who were in their 30's. While working together on a AI project in IBM they hit upon an idea of using Machine learning for medical diagnosis. They were passionate about technology and found that they could do something more practical apart from their normal day jobs. Their first innovation was a product called Shonit which can analyse blood smear slides and detect parasitic infections and disorders by a smartphone fitted to a microscope.
A second example is - Lucideus, a Delhi based startup which uses Machine learning to analyse cyber security threats and provide real-time information via a smartphone app for the whole organisation. The founder is Saket Modi who found love in ethical hacking as young as 21 year old. As a marketing strategy, his company provides free of cost service for a company to analyse cyber security threats and provides feedback on any security vulnerability. Thus, the client would only pay for fixing any flaw.
My third example is - Amagi, a Bangalore based startup founded by 3 friends which has developed cloud based media planning and buying tool for TV advertising. They are the kind of innovators who want to make a dent in entrepreneurship.
All the innovators have a dream that would not allow them to sleep and keeps them awake in the middle of the night to pursue something that they have envisioned. A word of advice from all the successful technoprenuers are:
1.To make up a strong plan for finances to survive until one can bring up their product in the market. (Many of them went about venture while they were gainfully employed, had meaningful experience and saved their life savings)
2.Hire the right talent or the team with whom one can collaborate and trust. The key is to find people with resilience.
3.Don't attempt without a strong market research or the result could be entering a market before it is even ready or say too early.
4.Work with one’s money judiciously as it would teach a lot about managing challenges and learning lessons fast on learning curve instead of being complacent by taking the VC funding route.
I used to work in Gurgaon, between 2005 and 2008 and was staying in a rented home and the landlord was an elderly bureaucrat who used to ask me why don’t I take the plunge of being an innovator-entrepreneur, as he saw the immense potential of Indian youth. It did not occur to me then as I was too naive to understand the weight of his words. With the renewed eco-system coming in after the elect of new central government and India making significant progress, there is remarked increase in startups.
Ergo, young minds are setting out to follow their true calling in pursuing their interests in the fast-changing industry to bring disruption and change the game forever for less adaptive organisations. A word of caution is that there are very few startups who succeed as the real success ratio is 1 in 1000! The best part of being entrepreneur is that it can be learnt and there is tremendous support from educational institutions. IIM-B has NS Ragavan Centre for entrepreneurial learning which is an incubator for startups. They provide an excellent platform for an innovator to pursue his dream and bring that into reality.
Isn't it time we followed our instinct and chase that dream or an idea? As Steve Jobs mentions that we can only look back on our journey and connect the dots in retrospect the same is true for every innovator.
Am sure we would fail, but life is all about how much we can come back after being hit hard. For we know the success of person but not his challenges and struggles.
For the Technoprenuer in you and me, here goes - "Cheers, the best is yet to come!".
*All images are from internet