India has been going through a downturn in the start-up industry after an initial period of irrational euphoria and inflated valuations, said Ganesh Natarajan, Executive Chairman and Founder of 5F World in an interview with BW Businessworld.
He added, “The advice I would have for wannabe entrepreneurs is to have clarity of their product or service and why it is a unique contribution to the market, a business model that can establish product-market connect and take the mission forward.” Edited Excerpts:
Tell us about yourself.
My current role is Executive Chairman and Founder of 5F World, a platform for digital startups, skills, and social ventures in the country. Prior to this, I have done two successful CEO tenures over twenty-five years at APTECH and Zensar Technologies. Harvard Business School has written and taught two case studies on my success through Vision Communities and Innovation.
What is your business?
Our current business is very exciting. We are building a group of companies that are focused on new world needs. GTT identifies and skills youth outside the main metro cities and prepares them for careers in the best global organisations.
Kalzoom provides digital and influencer marketing solutions for global organisations and helps them to optimise their social footprint. Lighthouse Communities is solving for aspiration and skills building in young people from the slums in India’s main cities and the digital success consulting work we do at 5F World enables medium and large companies to align their investments in technology, processes, culture and skills to the changing needs of customers and the environment.
What are you proud of?
In my career, I have built a global computer education business with over a thousand centres across forty-plus countries and a very profitable digital technologies company focused on the key domains of manufacturing, retail, and distribution in seven countries.
The common streams across these businesses – APTECH and Zensar Technologies and the group that we are nurturing our clarity of vision and mission, the creation of vision communities to set and achieve transformational goals, and unrelenting focus on product, process, and business model innovation to do better things rather than just do things better.
Startups are in trouble, what advice do you have for them?
India has been going through a downturn in the startup industry after an initial period of irrational euphoria and inflated valuations. The advice I would have for wannabe entrepreneurs is to have clarity of their product or service and why it is a unique contribution to the market, a business model that can establish product-market connect and take the mission forward, identification of team members, customers and investors that can enable scaling with quality and passion that will overcome the odds and take the company to market share, revenues and profitability.
The lesson we can learn from Silicon Valley is that success lies not in never making a false step, but in the ability to recover after a fall, make course corrections and set out on the path to success. We mentor and invest in many entrepreneurs today with the conviction that the right choice made at key milestones in the journey can set the companies they build on the path to success.
In our recent book “India’s pathways to success”, we have stressed the need to have sharp focus and enhanced productivity in all sectors and investments in new technology and talent to take the country forward to its new tryst with destiny. As true believers in the potential of India and the unbridled enthusiasm of Indian youth, I believe the time has come to convert our promise to success.