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Building for India

S
Shankar
29th Jun, 2020

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It has time and again been brought up that highly educated Indians do not build for Bharat. And for most of them, it is infact true. But let us understand what has brought us to this situation? Why is it that building for Bharat isn't considered prestigious among the crème de la crème?




First let us define Bharat. Bharat is not the upper echelons of Indian soceity. They are not the people you would run into while having your sunday brunch. Bharat is the 1.25 Billion Indians form what we consider as necessity might be a luxury. India is unqiue from a socio-economic perspective usually categorized as India-1, 2 and 3. India-1 is what makes the news. For long India-2 and 3 have been neglected by the startup ecosystem. Indian startup ecosystem initially built products which was present in the west. Ola (Uber), Flipkart(Amazon) and a whole host of other startups targeted the urban Indian consumer. One with enough amount of disposable income that they would be willing to spend a little more just for the convenience. This is the fundamental reason why these customers were chosen. The ability to generate revenue for companies requires users of their products to part their money for it.

India-2 and 3 do not have huge disposable incomes and therefore weren't the righ customers for convenience based startups. They would rather toil a bit longer than spare few more of their hard earned money. this frugality is imbied in their culture due to generations of improper access to resources or access to social mobility. Scarcity is part and parcel of their life and Indians are known for their savings either as land, gold or just plain cash. This creates a structural issue to serve this population. If a business cannot generate sufficient revenue, it cannot generate employment which in turn would lead to suppressed wages amongst the population. This negative feedback loop creates a barrier.

The solution is to create a system which breaks this barrier. A product for Bharat should therefore consist the following:
1) is entertaining
2)generates employment

This in turn create a positive loop. If the product is entertaining it would be able to generate data which could lead to ad revenue as well as potential revenue stream such as an analogous software solutions. This is what I call the Amazon model. Amazon main product is their e-commerce platforms. But the tools they developed to sustain it were better by the products in the market by atleast a magnitude. This led them to generate much needed cash inflow to sustain amazons cash burn.

A product developed for Bharat should therefore have the following things as a must embrace vernacular language and decrease the digital barrier. Once sufficient number of users use the model they can then switch forth to products which demand higher technical expertise. This is a ramp form of product introduction. In a country where there are innumerous coaching centres to help people use Microsoft Excel/Word, it is imperative that a product which acts as a ramp instead of step function is introduced to the populace. This would lead to employement as newer problem statements could then be addressed by people facing them.

Bharat is an exciting place! With over a billion aspirational souls ever always looking for a way to better their lives, massive value can be generated with providing them the right set of tools!

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Shankar

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