'Entrepreneurship' – the singular trait that propelled the growth of Indian Software Industry

‘Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, which can be defined as “one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods”. This may result in new organizations or may be part of revitalizing mature organizations in response to a perceived opportunity. The most obvious form of entrepreneurship is that of starting new businesses (referred as Startup Company); however, in recent years, the term has been extended to include social and political forms of entrepreneurial activity. When entrepreneurship is describing activities within a firm or large organization it is referred to as intra-preneurship and may include corporate venturing, when large entities spin-off organizations….’ writes Wikipedia.

Back during the early 1980s, Indian software industry was nearly non-existent; this was around the same time when today’s modern ‘educated’ (Ex-IIT) Entrepreneur icon Mr Narayana Murthy started his company Infosys on borrowed funds of Rs 10000 taken from his wife Sudha Murthy, who herself is an accomplished story writer of books targeted at children.

In contrast, the conditions then were very different with those now – and in particular, India was an unfriendly environment for start-ups looking to operate globally. For example, Mr Narayana Murthy had to make 40 visits to the capital city Delhi just to get a license to import a computer, and each visit would take at least 2.5 days by train. Banks would not give loans, and it would take 10-15 days for approval from the Reserve Bank of India just to travel overseas. The situation in India is quite friendly and conducive now; with the concept of ‘global village’ taking shape. The internet was not there then; IT Infrastructure was pathetic in India and it required immense persuasion skills and drive ( read self-motivation) from an entrepreneur to ‘start up’ a company in new born industry like software was. There were not many takers and it was an uncharted territory that many feared to tread.

( An excerpt of the interview with Mr Narayana Murthy at the Yale University in the year 2006)

It all started with ‘body shopping’ and the industry mainly depended on software exports. Then, the Indian Software Industry was nascent, untested, with no yardstick to measure its success. In the year 1991, Dr Manmohan singh, the erstwhile Union Finance Minister, abolished the license Raj and brought in ‘drastic’ economic reforms and hastened industrial growth through promoting entrepreneurship skills amongst a new generation waiting to explore new business ideas in India & abroad. Besides body shopping, IT services including IT-enabled services got exported to USA and Europe. It was only around 10-12 years back, BPOs mushroomed in India and even now, a key factor in the success of the Indian software industry remains to be its absolute advantage in supply of skilled software professionals. Now, this fact of ‘availability’ of skilled software professionals would not have come to light without the resilient entrepreneurship efforts of Indian businessmen. Practically, between the years 1991 – 1996, nearly every week, a new software company was born or a viable business idea/ proposition was started in India.

In the very early period, the software industry was mainly concentrated in Mumbai, the capital of the state of Maharashtra and as size of the exports grew, industry started spreading to other cities and states. Bangalore attracted many multinational companies after Texas Instruments set up its first development center in 1985. By the year 1990, the states of Maharashtra (Mumbai), Karnataka (Bangalore), Tamil Nadu (Chennai) and Delhi were the ones with large share of exports and states of Uttar Pradesh (Noida), Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad) and West Bengal (Kolkata) also had software exports, albeit at lower levels, and were later jointed by the other states in India. Entrepreneurship really took to its wings in software Industry. Rest is history now!

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6 thoughts on “'Entrepreneurship' – the singular trait that propelled the growth of Indian Software Industry

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