Till two decades back, entrepreneurship in India was limited to family-owned businesses. “I want to grow up into an entrepreneur and start a business” was a statement we hardly heard from children in the 1980s or early 90s. However, with the technology and communication revolution young and enterprising individuals who had interesting ideas broke into the scene. Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zomato, Paytm, Ola and Practo are some examples of startups that have emerged in the past decade and have completely re-written the rules of the game. 

According to Nasscom ecosystem startup report 2015, India is now the third leading startup originator in the world, with US $ 5 billion-worth investment in 2015 and three to four startups emerging every day. The report suggests that the number of active investors in the startup ecosystem in India grew from 220 in 2014 to 490 in 2015, a more than two-fold increase in just one year.

Ideas are the new bedrock of the start-up revolution in the new millenium, and students today are also realising it as they see the rapid developments in the world around them. Entrepreneurial development has emerged an important factor for growth of the economy and students are looking at it as a strong career option, much like the way they look at the traditional fields of medicine, engineering, law and architecture. 

Interestingly, educational institutions today have started offering courses in entrepreneurship and small business management. With greater reach of mass media and greater awareness about existential problems faced by a large section of the society, there has been a steady emergence of students who desire to use their careers to not just earn a living but also contribute to social development. New fields have opened up for students in areas of development studies, child and rural development among others.

Interestingly, a range of India&’s development issues can be suitably addressed by producing innovative low-cost solutions suggesting an amalgamation of the twin fields of entrepreneurship and development. For example, the lack of universal irrigation facilities can be overcome to some extent by developing innovative rain water harvesting solutions that can proliferate across the country. Similarly, the burden of water-borne diseases can be reduced if social entrepreneurs develop low cost water purifying mechanisms and market them in rural areas and urban slums. 

With the growth of technology, many avenues and industries for people to choose their career options from have come up. However, this requires management and other higher education institutes to produce human resource that is not only skillful but also efficient and effective for the industry, and bring new ideas to the table.

As per a study conducted by International School of Entrepreneurship Education and Development, while 90 per cent of surveyed Indian students saw entrepreneurship opportunities in the country, 87 per cent aspired to become an entrepreneur at some point in their lifetime. Amid their passion to carve an untravelled path, such aspirants are not afraid of failures and risks. Hence, the study also revealed students from tier three cities to be ahead of tier two, tier one and metros in the race for becoming entrepreneurs.

With the government launching programmes to boost small enterprises, education institutes and centres providing courses on entrepreneurship have set up large number of incubators and business accelerators.  

The academia in India has to align with the advanced concepts of innovation and incubation within its four walls and extend it to the students, alumni, faculty as well as the industry. The same should not be limited to government institutions but should also take along selected private institutes that can drive it. It is time for the birth of an Indian Institute of Incubation or Indian Institute of Data Science with data centric approach of entrepreneurship opportunities, rather than simply being limited to the anachronous IIMs and IITs.

The writer is executive director, Institute Of Management Studies, Noida and Fellow, IIM-Ahmedabad.