J A Chowdhary, president of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), Hyderabad Chapter, is also the managing director of the India operations of Portal Player Inc, the company that supplies chips for iPods and many other MP3 players.
In a freewheeling interview -- at the Indian School of Business campus during the TiE-ISB Conenct 2006 in Hyderabad -- with Contributing Editor Shobha Warrier, he holds forth on the current entrepreneurial activity in India, what TiE is doing to promote entrepreneurship and gives advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.
How do you describe the entrepreneurial atmosphere in India today?
It is totally different today. When we started our companies, there was no ecosystem.
Today, there is a good ecosystem. The components that have contributed to the good ecosystem are:
1. The returning Non-Resident Indians who are bringing with them the technology and a little bit of angel money.
2. The growing Indian domestic market. Entrepreneurship happened in the Silicon Valley because the customer interface was easy there, but today you have a huge customer market in India too.
3. The presence of venture capitalist institutions which was not there in India earlier. Today, at the TiE-ISB Connect, there are 50 venture capitalists on the lookout for good ideas.
What brings these VCs to India now?
The VCs have understood that it is in India and China that action is going to take place. The markets of the western world have saturated and the markets of these two countries are growing fast.
Today, the opportunities are huge in India. When these opportunities move to rural India, the market will grow even bigger. The 300 million middle class will then go up to 500 million, and that will be spread throughout India.
The future is very bright and everybody wants to be here. Compared to China, India has a good legal system, better IPR protection, et cetera.
We are sure that the third wave is going to happen soon. The first was the IT services wave, then came the BPO (business process outsourcing) wave, and, now, it is the technology wave.
What happened in the Silicon Valley 10-15 years ago is beginning to happen in India now. A lot of technology start- up companies in the semi-conductor space, Internet, et cetera are creating products and we will see many, many products coming from India in the nest 3-4 years.
The seed has already been sown and you will see the fruits soon.
You are the President of the TiE chapter in Hyderabad. What does TiE do to encourage entrepreneurs?
We try to give global opportunity for the budding entrepreneurs through networking. On their own, it is difficult for them to meet a VC or a businessman or a successful entrepreneur. Our job is to take them to the next level so that they can succeed and create employment opportunities.
Last year at the TiE-ISB summit, we hardly received 50 business plans, but this year, there are more than 300 business plans, and they are from all around the world. If in one year, we could bring that kind of momentum, we are confident that world class products will come out of the TiE-ISB conference.
What does the separate chapter on semi-conductors for TiE do?
I am the chairman of the Semiconductor Chair in India under TiE. We decided to have a separate chair because Fab City has been announced in Hyderabad, and a lot of semi-conductor companies are coming here.
For example, I am the managing director of Portal Player Inc. here in Hyderabad. Portal Player designs and sells its chips to Apple (for iPods) and to many other MP3 player companies.
We expect a lot of chips getting manufactured here in India, once the Fab city starts functioning, and being sold in the world market.
As the president of TiE, what advice will you to the budding entrepreneurs?
1. I would advice the budding entrepreneurs to be innovative. They shouldn't go after an idea just because it is successful. Sheep mentality is not advisable at all.
2. A good idea is the most important thing that is needed.
3. They should have the ability to see the future of an idea. They should have a good strategy for future.
4. Another important thing is the team. They should have a good team to succeed.
5. They should be able to live with the idea passionately.
6. There would be ups and downs in the business, but they should not run away when there is a crisis.
7. If the team has passion and commitment, even if an idea fails, they can pick up another idea and go ahead.
At TiE, this is what we look for when we try spotting an entrepreneur.
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