Technology Entrepreneurship and Cloud Adoption in India
Last Friday I was invited to speak on the entrepreneurship panel at the Columbia University conference on India. The topic is very close to all of us at Kaavo as we setup our primary R&D activities and product development team in Kolkata, India from day one. Most of the US based technology companies have setup R&D teams in India as a branch office of their core R&D function. In our case we decided to pick India for our core product development activities for two reasons, one is availability of extraordinary untapped talent and other is the potential of the local market. Indian economy is growing and is expected to grow for next several years at close to double digit growth rates. At present the awareness of cloud computing is relatively low in India, however, given that several domestic companies are growing exponentially and have no legacy infrastructure of in-house data centers, these companies have opportunity to bypass the legacy stuff and move directly to the cloud. Cloud adoption in India would be similar to the cell phone adoption. Cell phones were introduced in India well after their introduction in the developed countries, however, they were adopted faster than the developed countries as the existing landlines infrastructure was non-existent and the technology addressed something which was not do-able with the available infrastructure.
Looking at entrepreneurs in India, historically they mostly came from either the business families (Tata, Birlas, etc.) or from families with modest means who didn’t have much to lose (e.g. Dhirubhai Ambani). Middleclass in India historically has been content in getting higher education and working for someone else. First known success of middleclass participation in entrepreneurship is the formation of Infosys by Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilakani alt. Infosys founders were engineers who left their jobs to start the company which arguably acted as a catalyst to grow the technology services industry in India and become a huge success globally. Arguably India has establish global leadership in IT services business, so the question is when will we see a global software product company like Microsoft, Google, alt. from India. I think it will take some time, we are still at a stage where product companies are founded in India from outsiders to leverage the local talent and market opportunity. If we look at the history of Silicon Valley, the Fairchild was the first success and after that several employees of Fairchild went on to form VC firms (e.g. Sequoia, KPCB) and other startups (e.g. Intel) and it started the whole ecosystem. Prior to the success of Fairchild, all the major technology companies in the US were founded on the East Coast, e.g. G.E., AT&T (Bell Labs), IBM, alt. Given all that is happening, it is just a matter of time before we will see a breakout success in the technology innovation from India and the successful company will act as a catalyst for further technology innovation in India.