It's been exactly a year since I had written about the Indian startup ecosystem. In the meantime, a lot of things have changed, for good. So here's the good, bad and the ugly, one more time.
The real startups
Oh boy! They're everywhere! I see hot new startups budding every other week. Unlike before (pre-recession) these aren't those small time service providers. These are real companies being founded by amazing people around the world. And India isn't lagging behind. From the world's first browser with pre-installed antivirus to the Apple iPad killer tablet, startups are fluorishing like never before!
Startups have matured and have become more patient with time. They have realized that funding is no longer a milestone. I don't see startups hunting for investors anymore (unless they need[read:deserve] it). And now the investors and VCs are taking serious interest in the Indian startup scene. More and more companies are being funded handsomely, acquisitions are happening all across the country.
This is the best part. Last year was full of amazing ideas from really passionate entrepreneurs. There aren't many 'look ma! i'm a CEO' entrepreneurs anymore. These are serious individuals trying to solve real problems and helping in making the world a better place. Not only on web, but on the streets and every corner of the country. They are founding interesting startups from cloud computing to iphone apps, geotagging to fitness management. This is a major leap ahead for the industry.
Indian entrepreneurs took a little longer to realize what works and what doesn't. While I did see some startups failing miserably (obviously I don't want to name), I also saw some of the Indian startups shine brighter than ever before.
Here is the sad part. Although the startups have been doing great, they haven't really embraced the startup culture yet. The 9 to 6 office timing still rules at most Indian startups, added to the 6 day week cycle. The companies have been paying better, but they are yet to realize that money isn't everything. As a result, more and more people are switching jobs, and the companies are losing valuable experienced employees. Good human resource management is still a distant dream for Indian companies.
On top of that, companies have completely failed to understand the startup anatomy. When compared to fortune 500 companies, startups function in a whole different way. There are fewer employees with higher responsibilities. They need more time to think than ever. Since there are multiple roles for them to play, they need to be more focused and free. Recently, I was told about a well funded web startup which cuts the pay of employees who come late. That's not only unethical, but clearly illegal on certain grounds. It instantly builds a sense of distrust in the employee's mind. And this adds up to the number of startup quitters.
It's not the products or the funky offices which build the company, 'happy' employees do. Let them work the way they want using the tools they are the most comfortable with. That's the only way to retain good employees. Choke them with restrictions and you're inviting disasters. Some companies have learned it the bad way, while most are yet to learn.
Did i miss something?
I tried to write in the same lines as the previous one. If you think I missed something, I would love to read about it in the comments.
As I said, this is the second part of the story. If you missed the first part, here is it again.