Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, ISB.
Professor V Chandrasekar says entrepreneurs are the same all over the world. He was speaking at the backdrop of TiE-ISB Connect 2007 in an interview with Contributing Editor Shobha Warrier.
Chandrasekar has taught at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalor , Indian Institute of Science, University of Colorado, University of Denver, the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Queen Margaret College, Scotland, and ESSEC Business School at Cergy, France. He is the executive director of the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at the Indian School of Business.
The WCED is one of the first centres of excellence established at the ISB.
TiE-ISB Connect is a joint initiative of the Hyderabad chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs and The Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business. The event aims at bringing together aspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups and growth-stage entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs and academicians on a common platform to interact and help build successful enterprises.
During his interview, Chandrasekhar spoke about last year's event which saw about 40 venture capitalists, angel investors and private equity funds participating across the globe, along with 30 successful entrepreneurs. The event was held at the ISB Campus, Hyderabad.
Excerpts of the interview:
How successful was last year's entrepreneurial meet at ISB?
The last year's TiE-ISB Connect held from September 20 to 22 was attended by 600 delegates, 200 Business Plans submitted, attended by 150 entrepreneurs and 50 VCs. The event was very successful in bringing the entrepreneurs and VCs on a platform for matching their mutual interest.
How many ideas were presented and how many entrepreneurs got nod from the VCs?
About 40 selected business plans were presented to VCs covering different industry segments. About 10 per cent of the companies got VC traction and 15 per cent found advisors and alliance partners and many more were able to fast track their business strategy.
Were the entrepreneurs all from India? Or were there people from outside India too?
The participating entrepreneurs were mostly from India
As the executive director of WCED, are you satisfied with the quality of ideas that were presented last year?
In entrepreneurship, it is very difficult to say which ideas will succeed. Therefore, it is a challenge for us to select the best of the business plans. However, we make all the plans available to VCs or funders, whether we select them or not.
How do you rate Indians as entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs are the same all over the world. The same grit, determination and commitment to succeed are needed. Sometimes, some cultural factors may play a role in hindering development of entrepreneurship but they are more relevant for groups than for countries.
Is India ready for entrepreneurs? Many Indian entrepreneurs who have gone to the US and started ventures say that US is more open to new ideas. Do you feel so?
Government policies and societal approach to support failing entrepreneurs are definitely more favourable in the US. But successful entrepreneurship has a lot to do with robust growth and changing market economy. This is what is happening in India. Therefore, you will see more Indian entrepreneurs in future.
What has to change to let India have more entrepreneurs?
India needs to do the following for promoting entrepreneurial ventures.
Entrepreneurship needs to be taught in schools and colleges. Free exchange of ideas and creation of suitable eco-system are needed to transform these ideas into successful ventures.
Graduates need to be given incentives by government agencies to start their ventures.
Government policies to create suitable eco-system have to be evolved -- these include changes in labour laws, company law and taxation.
Financial institutions need to undergo changes. Even today, financial institutions demand collateral for granting loans to small and micro entrepreneurs. This can be tackled by changing government regulations and by evolving suitable methods for hedging risks by insurance policies.
At the Anna University, (former President) Dr A P J Abdul Kalam urged the students to be employment-generat0rs and not employment-seekers. Is the atmosphere in India right for that?
Dr Kalam's wish is more possible today than ever before mainly because at present there is no dearth of jobs. Time is just right to tell the graduates to take the plunge. For, if they fail, they can always get jobs.
At WCED, ISB, what do you tell your students and how do you encourage them to come up with new ideas?
The ISB has a unique place in the field of management education as all of its students have had at least five years' corporate experience. They are well-focused, have long-term perspective for growth in profession and business. This helps them to risk entrepreneurship. Hence, there has been a steady rise in the number of students approaching us for idea evaluation and business plans' preparation.
We have programmes for B-Plan competitions, interaction with entrepreneurs and VCs and mentoring programmes to create conducive eco-system for the students.
We seek projects from the industry for students to work on as part of experiential learning programme so that they understand the small and medium enterprises and their growth strategies.
We also promote and guide students on 'Independent Studies' with the industry so that they get exposed to various industry segments.
The TiE-ISB offers a good opportunity for the students to evaluate and test their plans and to seek VCs' support through mentoring provided by us.
At the event, special electives are offered to the students in the curriculum for sharpening their skills in entrepreneurship. These subjects are taught by the globally famed faculty.
Students have consistently won many business plans at the national and the international levels with their entrepreneurial ideas.
From India, Mumbai