“The best way to predict the future is to create it. ”
COVID 19 crisis like any other crisis is a double whammy for millions of service class individuals. Proving to be a nightmare for the economic sector, we see large-scale layoffs and pay cuts, leaving many skilled people without jobs. While experts brew massive recessions, the future looks bleak for job seekers.
But during these unprecedented and testing times, we all have one thing common around us which are the loads of problems that need to be solved. As we are seeing a seismic shift in work culture we are also encountering new problems to be resolved. And here lies the opportunity to reshape society and create a better future. The honorable Prime Minister of India also appealed to his countrymen by saying ”Aapda ko Avsar mein badalye” thereby motivating young India to exploit the situation to the advantage of society.
But this spirit is nothing new to people who are entrepreneurs or for those who dream to be one of them. Entrepreneurship has a legacy of transforming society for its greater good by solving a problem that everyone saw but nobody thought to solve it. As Henry Ford once said
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
So let’s look at a few startup stories which can prove to you ‘Why Entrepreneurship’ is important for society.
WHAT, HOW, WHY?
What is entrepreneurship?- Well this is the question which has as many answers as there are entrepreneurs in the market. But still, we can find these seemingly parallel definitions to be converging at some common point. For modern entrepreneurs, this is the field to challenge the status quo of society by solving big problems. They sought to bring change in society with their innovation.
People opting for a future in this field are often judged for making an irrational choice. But this prejudice of society is there for some reason, as stats show that 9 out of 10 startups fail within three to four years of their inception. And thereby to venture into this field you need to be a persistent, passionate, and an optimistic individual. You should either have inherent or should cultivate risk-taking abilities.
To put this in famous words of Drew Downs, Co-founder of Nuvango, “An entrepreneur is someone who prefers a life of boundless uncertainty to that of predictability and chooses to bet on themselves before anyone else.”
In entrepreneurship more often than not people who venture are either frustrated with 9 to 5 jobs or are swayed by the hype created by the media about startups or have ambitions to make millions of dollars in a short duration through their product. But these all are shallow objectives to get motivated. To achieve something big one needs to have a strong “Why”. So here we shall look into stories of a few successful startups which transformed Indian society and were created with noble intentions.
India is a country with stark differences in various spheres. While thinking of startups in India we may picture IT industries in Gurgaon and Bengaluru but the reality is that it is not the only case. Indian startup industry may have success stories of OYO, BYJUs, Snapdeal, Paytm, and many more but the reality is that these services were started to provide solutions to the middle-class customer. But there are also stories which cater to the population comprising a mid-to-low income group and often fail to catch the eyeballs.
So today let’s have a look at two stories in verticals related to early childhood education and healthcare.
Hippocampus Learning Centers
Umesh Malhotra, Founder of Hippocampus Learning Centre(HLC) and an IIT graduate two decades ago realized the importance of books for the holistic development of the child. Determined to change the system of education in India he left his job in California and started his journey in India by establishing a low-cost library in Bengaluru. But this was just the stepping stone for Umesh as he has some larger goals to accomplish.
Soon he realized the inefficiency of government-run Anganwadi Centres in Tier-IV markets. These centers where most of the children of tier IV cities get their first formal education have turned into a mere daycare center with little or no outcome-based learning. Seeing this problem at sight Umesh started a preschool program of three years designed for 3 to 6-year-olds. The model was cheap and effectively aims to introduce elementary Mathematics and English. So Umesh started with 17 Hippocampus Learning Centres in Mandya, Karnataka in 2011.
The HLC was a great success in its very first year and its internal assessment shows that by the year-end 85 percent of its children were able to read and write simple English sentences and do the one-digit calculation in Maths. This success motivated him for further endeavors and know he runs 300 centers, all equipped with the internet, benefiting over 11000 preschoolers. He has been able to raise a fund of over 210 million rupees from investors such as the Asian Development Bank and Unitus Seed Fund. Apart from imparting affordable education, he is also promoting local entrepreneurs. All in all, the future looks bright for both HLC and society at large.
Healthcare is another sector that needs to be more affordable and be more specialized in the age of technological advancement. And to cater to this need we have health tech startups such as Forus Health that specializes in the vertical of biomedical devices. K Chandrasekhar started this venture in 2010 to innovate a product that can improve early detection of preventable blindness.
Chandrashekar says that blindness can impact the patient both financially and emotionally, thereby impacting the growth of the individual in particular and society in general. So with the mission to eradicate preventable blindness, he built a simple portable eye scanner in 2010. Their first model 3 Nethra was not only the cheapest of its kind but was portable enough to give its service to remote villages. The simplicity of the device makes it easier for a high schooler to operate it. With the launch of its very first commercial model, Forus managed to achieve its mission successfully.
Today this eye scanner device has been installed in over 1100 hospitals and labs over 25 countries. The usability of the device and efficient revenue model has attracted investors such as IDG Ventures, Accel Partners, Asian Health Fund. Raising $13 million of fundings future looks bright for Forus and it also serves as a model for successful health tech startups.
So seeing the success of HLC and Forus India it would have certainly given you the motive to step into the field of entrepreneurship with some higher goals. It is not always about to earn fame and money through business but it is about the impact you bring in the lives of people through your expertise. Entrepreneurship will be the field that will not only give you the freedom from the typical work culture of the society but will give you the opportunity to liberate others from their sufferings.
To best describe the motive of this blog I would quote the famous quote of Ann Cotton, Welsch Entrepreneur and founder of CAMFED –
“Be greedy for social change, and your life will be endlessly enriched. The only failure lies in not trying, or in giving up.”