“Imitation is not innovation”
How can startups scale up? What are the key drivers of innovation? On the flipside, what are the pitfalls? For answers to these questions, we spoke to an expert in the vibrant ecosystem.
Sunil Padmanabh works with startups in Bengaluru and Indian cities at various stages of growth, from founders in university-affiliated incubators to early stage to scaleups and beyond. With his experience in enterprise applications consulting, digital transformation/cloud adoption strategies and innovation thought leadership, he helps startups to join a thriving global community with next-generation growth and business development, and drives cloud-based innovation.
Talking about the innovation ecosystem in the city, Padmanabh says that the surge spans across industry sectors. The emergence of the digital economy, the urgency for organisations to adopt technology trends for differentiation/competitive positioning, driving down costs and providing better customer experience are some of the factors. For many NRIs who wanted to come back to India and turn entrepreneurs, the pleasant weather and cosmopolitan culture made Bengaluru an obvious choice. He also credits several initiatives taken by the Karnataka state government to aggressively support the incubation of startups through infrastructure support and allocating funds.
Things can always be better, and key areas that startups need help with are:
- Quality of mentorship available to startups in the form of domain expertise
- Deeper focus on technology innovation
- Better clarity on regulatory issues/labour laws
- Corporates need to build a startup culture within the organisation and embrace startups as partners by simplifying the rules of engagement with startups.
Bidding Indian entrepreneurs to change their approach, Padmanabh points out there are several examples of Indian entrepreneurs who believe that imitation is innovation. They tend to copy successful business models / solutions from advanced economies and tailor them to suit the local market in order to get quick money. “This is not a sustainable model and many startups have failed by being mere copycats”.
He adds that quite a few Indian startups don’t see the larger picture and focus on solving the present day’s problem, and are hence unable to scale effectively. Consequently, many of them don’t appeal to enterprise customers since the startups don’t factor their customer’s ecosystem while they are selling their solutions. Indian startups are also sluggish in adopting latest technologies in their solutions. They have to be savvier in experimenting with newer technology trends, he advises.