Indian Start-ups: A Historical View


Start-ups have always been an integral domain of interest in the Indian economy. Throughout the course of the pre-modernization era, start-ups and sole proprietorship chiseled their significance in the culture, families, and daily lives of the society. Opening a sweet shop at a busy market, pushing a vegetable cart through the alleys and selling hand fans at city crossroads, all were taken up to fill the gap created by the inconvenience and unsatisfied needs of the society. Similar to being a minister or an accountant, entrepreneurship and start-ups were ways to feed the household. They were devoid of any glamour which modern day start-ups like Flipkart and Ola cherish and flaunt.

Then dawned the era of modernization and competition. As businesses got tagged as ‘commercial’ and gulping down market shares became the priority, start-ups began to develop as puddles of innovation. The need to be different and stand out became vital and future profit drove the ambitions of young entrepreneurs. But with innovation came the sentiment of uncertainty and risk towards start-ups. Investors were reluctant to adopt this relatively new avatar of business and were more inclined towards mundane domains.

The world then witnessed a surge in the flow of information as technology and internet took charge. Trade and commerce were coupled with digitization and information was not left in the hands of a few. With increased reach and information, start-ups began to emerge from every nook and corner of the country and the domain, now with a new face, once again projected an optimistic future to the market. This phase was preceded by a string of successful start-ups and therefore was given a chance by investors of the country and the charm was indeed in the second time. It is precisely here that the bubble of start-ups began to expand.

Ventures like Flipkart, Ola Cabs, Oyo Rooms, PayTm picked up pace and displayed the potential of start-ups to the entire market. Investors huddled and reached out to the sector via angel investments. By this time, the bubble had already achieved its crest and start-ups began to rival the influence of established players. Gradually, in the incumbent phase, positive sentiment has diluted the sector to such an extent that new start-ups are vying for long term prospects and the established players are tightly holding their market valuation.

The start-up bubble of India which is currently driven by the sentiment of ‘FOMO’ towards the Indian market by foreign players is undergoing an existential crisis. This is the phase where start-ups need steady forces (like the established players) to hold their hands and guide them in the initial years of turbulence. Hence, networking for entrepreneurs is vital if the company is to survive and thrive on a long-term scale.

The future for start-ups demands a revolution equalling the scale of the Internet. Start-ups have to continue to be the gateway through which consumers migrate to the role of producers and have a say in how the market ought to function.


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