“When we started Infosys, it took us a long time to reach a billion dollars in valuation. Today, if you take the example of Flipkart and many other startups, that journey to a billion dollars is shorter,” said Kris Gopalkrishnan, Co-founder of Infosys, Chairman of Axilor Ventures, and past President, CII.
Kris explained that India now is at a stage with significant opportunity to create new models for development and entrepreneurship. He added that skill development must translate into entrepreneurial training because if you convert the job searcher into a job creator, s/he can employ more people.
“You actually solve the problem of skill development, and address issues about jobs and providing employment,” Kris said. He added that entrepreneurship needs inclusion and innovation for development in all sectors, not just tech.
Kris said that close to 60 percent of employment in India is generated by the SME sector today. “They are the backbone of the economy. Let’s say somebody creates a small shop and trains people in tailoring; that is a startup too and is a vibrant business. We need programmes to promote these as well.”
He was speaking at CII’s digital conference, India@75 Summit, Collaborating for a new self-reliant India, at a panel moderated by Govind Ethiraj, Journalist, TV anchor, Founder, of IndiaSpend and BOOM, and Founder-Editor of Bloomberg TV India.
Kris and Gautam Mago, General Partner, A91 Partners, discussed the different ways in which entrepreneurship and skill development go hand in hand.
Emphasising the importance of entrepreneurship in skill development and in creation of jobs, Gautam said a team of 15 people started A91 Partners, which means 15 new jobs were created when the new fund was started.
With clients like ISB, this startup is changing the face of education by digitising colleges, universities
The need for continued upskilling
“There is a whole new cohort of Indian professionals who started their careers in the 90s and early 2000s. They are in their mid-30s and early 40s, and are now coming of age. They are now venturing out and looking to start up, and are building innovation and tech across different sectors,” Gautam said.
However, in India, which has a population size of 1.3 billion, close to 10 to 12 million people will be looking for different types of jobs every year.
Gautam said this calls for scale in training, and entrepreneurs must work to build that scale. “Early training is a problem despite your skills and experience. But information and access are not a problem. So, the answers may not be obvious, but this is something we all need to work towards.”
He said the world is no longer the same: one skill set will not serve an individual for 15 to 20 years; there is a need for continuous skill development and upgradation. “The attitude therefore needs to look beyond a traditional four-year degree, which sets you for a ‘job’; the focus needs to be on upskilling every three to four years,” Gautam said.
Need for self-sustaining enterprises
India has several growing startups and SMEs, but the duo said there was a need for them to scale into larger self-sustained organisations. “Infosys was one such organisation that scaled to provide lakhs of jobs,” Gautam said.
“Also, while deals may be slowing currently, India is no longer seeing a dearth of capital,” Gautam said.
Kris added that there will now be a lot more innovation coming from fields other than software, including life sciences, healthcare, and agriculture.
Focus on newer sectors
Kris explained with newer sectors there needs to patient capital and domestic capital, which ensures that startups remain in India.
“Youngsters need to look at different opportunities that can exploited globally. The markets are growing and there is scope for innovation in sectors like life sciences, healthcare, agriculture, and education, where we have seen very visible and significant changes,” Kris said.
(Edited by Teja Lele)
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