Lessons from Agora (or Sundays @ THC) on Pursuit of NextGen Entrepreneurs.
There has been a long discussion going on over the evolution of entrepreneurship in general and how the present and the upcoming entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial trends are different than those of the past. We asked our panel members about these differences and the learning that they might have inherited or adopted. Since our panel members were from diverse fields this round of question elicited various perspectives.
Conventional vs. unconventional entrepreneurship
The panelists and everyone in general could see a clear division between the two groups of entrepreneurs in the current socioeconomic order: the conventional group and the unconventional group. The conventional group of entrepreneurs seemingly work on a traditional note, be it profit based success-drive, following the established footsteps, trusting financial security over growth and hesitant openness to something absolutely new or innovative. On the other hand, the unconventional or the modern group of entrepreneurs believe that the change is a norm. They believe in creating a product, service or a process that is new or different. For example, opening a new restaurant in a suburban area of Ahmedabad and doing well is not entrepreneurial according to them but running a small café with an innovative touch to it is. The unconventional or the modern group of entrepreneurs search for a change and exploit it to their best of the abilities.
While the two groups of entrepreneurs co-exist in today’s economical society, according to Ritam Bhatnagar, the founder of wWhere (www.wwhere.is), there is a certain degree of overlap seen in the approaches of these two groups. The conventional group has seemingly started to open up towards innovative ideas and the unconventional group do tend to learn from the experience of the former. As Sneh Bhavsar, founder of Oowomaniya (www.oowomaniya.com) mentioned, he learnt the dos and don’ts of running a business largely from his experience of working closely as a consultant in well established firms. It was affirmed that such an overlap can prove to be beneficial for entrepreneurs in general; however, the distinction making process has unfortunately created a void. The void does not allow traditional entrepreneurs, an easy access to the new ways and approaches of entrepreneurship. And conversely, the distinction restricts the modern entrepreneurs from learning or thinking about new approaches in a traditional background. This could be a reason for limited entrepreneurial ventures in say rural development of India. Mode of communication was regrettably described as a limiting factor for a successful interaction between the two groups.
While there is work being done to improve the overlap, absolute dissolution of such a demarcation has become a must for an overall transcendence of entrepreneurial journey in India. And as per Ritam Bhatnagar, it is entrepreneurs’ responsibility themselves to understand and work towards filling up the void.
Risk-management is an entrepreneurial inheritance
There are different meanings to the term entrepreneur and the meanings have evolved significantly over time. However the association of risk bearing and entrepreneurship goes long back in history. Richard Cantillon during the mid-17th century, described the non-fixed wage earners as ‘entrepreneurs’ – for the first time as recorded in history. The non-fixed wage earners bought or made a product at a certain cost to sell it at an uncertain price (risk-seeker or risk-bearer, in other words). It was in their intentions to shun a fixed wager work but instead trade their product or service and have the possibility to earn a profit. Richard Cantillon emphasized on the willingness of the entrepreneur to assume risk and deal with uncertainty. The definition of course then evolved further where instead of risk-bearers, entrepreneurs were called as clever risk-managers (definition by Jean Say) when they became able to understand the trends of the market and how people would respond to their product or the service.
The panelists agreed vividly that the ability to deal with risks, to make a calculative decision overseeing the possibilities is something that they have learnt from their forgoers. Abhishek Doshi, the founder of Gridle (www.gridle.io), humbly avowed risk management as an old but absolutely essential technique for entrepreneurs.
‘Peer Steer’ better than the ‘learned league’
When further asked on the things that they have learnt or are learning from their predecessors, a brilliant point was raised by Sneh Bhavsar – ‘’We learn from our peers more than what we learn from the experienced and established entrepreneurs’’. Agreeing instantly, Abhishek Doshi added that ”instead of teachers we need a platform where we learn from each other as entrepreneurs. There are more nurseries than the students, here in India, and we need more students to grow coherently”. With the constantly evolving trends and mindsets, it is necessary to keep up. Peer learning indeed is being established as an asset in the entrepreneurial world. Bansari Kamdar, founder of The Social Bridge (www.socialbridge.com), concluded that as a budding entrepreneur, she tasted the power of peer-steer there and then during the session.