India-China Start Up Race - Can this Indian Baba Beat Alibaba?
By Arun Pudur, Founder and President, Celframe Corporation
For thousands of years Bharat (Or “India” as Brits renamed) was the center of world knowledge and largest exporter of things Intellectual, tech, defense, religion, health and everything else. Bharat was what US is for people today in 21st Century, a place where everyone wanted to live and trade en-route even got lost and found the Americas, Africa and other parts of the world. Then after a long term rule by Arab invaders (800 years) and followed by European invaders (200 years), Bharat become net importer of everything, faced famines and became the worst economy in the world.
China starting from Xia, Han, many other until Qing & Ming was largely self-governed excluding pesky Genghis Khan because of whom they build the Great Wall and had their economy very much controlled excluding giving away Hong Kong for 99 years thanks to opium brought in by the Brits.
"While across the border India only uses and loves foreign tech and we cannot blame the Start Up entrepreneurs who ape foreign tech and try to make it “Desi” "
Even though Chinese economy was completely closed up they managed to hold on to their values and beliefs which Bharat could not thanks to Brits education revamp which ensured all things Bharat was worthless, which is still going strong thanks of change unlike China which enforces everything with Brute force.
Now, you are thinking why this history lesson Arun? Why are you not talking about the startup scene right? Well, the success of Chinese Startups or even American and Israeli Startups is because they believe they are the best and further they use their leaders to enforce ‘No-nonsense’ approach wherein the Governments only supports their own tech and hardly buy or support foreign technology.
Don’t look far from China, there is no Google, hardly any Microsoft, small percentage of Apple and bye-bye Uber. While across the border India only uses and loves foreign tech and we cannot blame the Start Up entrepreneurs who ape foreign tech and try to make it “Desi”. This is the reason why you cannot see any Baidu, Alibaba or Tencent in Bharat. The world’s highest following in Twitter for a politician is the Indian Prime Minister which says something is seriously wrong.
While I did analyze the root issues, let us look at what is happening in Bharatand how
a. Bharat Government Support of Bharat owned and developed products needs a lot more improvement. Don’t take me wrong I love what Shri Narendra Modi who is doing a great job.It finally feels we are re-immerging from the a 1000 years of slumber, but what we need is not just Made in India, but Made by Indian very similar to US, China and many counties. You may say we are polarizing ourselves, but no, look at China and US their local tech scene is thriving where-else Bharat is lacking.
b. Also do not discount the National Security aspect of our data, almost all Indian web traffic is routed, analyzed and monitored in either US, Israel, China etc because we use their products, be it is Microsoft Windows, Google, Apple or even UcWeb& likes, so can you blame them if they used it against Bharat during time of war or even for business or politics?
c. Government must change its financial policies to support entrepreneurship. The reason is even big names like Flipkart and likes setup their shop in Singapore to get the funding andthereby helping Singapore Economy to grow at what cost? Why not change the policies completely on stroke of a pen? Income tax removal all together, yes I said it, why do we need it? It is an old broken Brit system build for war purposes and now with GST Bharat can focus on growth and consumption.
d. Bharat is late to the party as some call it, I would beg to differ. I know that the US and China had a head start as previous Government in Bharat was very happy to import tech rather than focus on development which is now being addressed to some extent. Let me ask you were Google late? While yahoo, excite were established search players? What about Facebook? Which arrived way after Friendster was established. Yes, now you have that Aha! Moment is it not?
e. Well you may say, ‘no’, Bharat consumers want to purchase local brands, well my friend you are wrong. Here is where “Baba Ramdev” the Indian start up rocker (sort of) comes to the picture. Even though many Indians and media makes Joke of his looks, his advertisements, his products he has proven all wrong and in just 2-3 years he has become one of the largest FCMG and is set to finish of Nestle, Colgate, Unilever and its likes. He even publicly said Colgate turnover is below Patanjali, in 3 years Unilever and Nestlé’s bird will fly away soon. Well that for me is a true Startup icon and model all Startups need to follow.
f. You think Bharat Startups are doing better than Baidu, Ali Baba and Tencent (BAT)? Unfortunately it is not and even a handful of Successful Bharat startups are owned by Chinese and US VCs or companies. It is like selling your land so you can grow vegetables for today. See the case of UcWeb, India’s no.1 browser (based on their claim) is owned by Ali Baba, so is PayTM, Ola & Flipkart by American VCs. But can we perform without them? Of course you can.
Before you argue my thoughts, let me ask you to “Google” (Yes that American owned search engine with an Indian CEO in the helm who works for a salary) these Indian startups which followed foreign concept and failed – Dazo, Spoonjoy, Langhar, OrderSnack, DoneByNone, Jewelskart, Bagskart, Watchkart and that is just a drop in the bucket.
Five takeaways if you see my arguments are even 0.1 Percent accurate –
- Start focusing on Indian issues that needs fixing be it is education or efficient warehousing.
- Boot-strap, Boot-strap, Boot-strap!
- Stop focusing on valuations.
- Focus on growth in revenues not acquisitions; and
- Remember you don’t become great without great service to your customers.
So yes, this Indian Baba is set to take down Alibaba’s in China. When Baba Ramdev “Pivots” to tech he will end up with a Desi-web so I suggest all you out there do this before he does it.