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“Fundamentally, the DNA [for entrepreneurship] exists. The question now is how do we make people think bigger?” said Bharat Goenka, co-founder and managing director of Tally Solutions, who spoke at the “Indian Entrepreneurship 2.0” panel.

Bharat Goenka, co-founder and managing director of Tally Solutions

‘Opportunities take flight’

The 2012 Kellogg India Business Conference highlights the strategies Indian firms are using to promote innovation

By Daniel P. Smith

5/23/2012 - Ever since the first Kellogg India Business Conference in 1992, the Kellogg School has supported India’s progress by hosting dynamic conversations about the nation’s growth and development.

The 2012 conference, hosted May 12 at the James L. Allen Center, continued in that vein, as more than 150 Kellogg students, alumni and business professionals gathered for a spirited exploration of India’s next entrepreneurial steps.

From keynote addresses by Param Uberoi, Pernod Ricard South Asia chairman, and The George Foundation founder Abraham George, each presenter embraced the conference theme — “Opportunities Take Flight” — by highlighting the strategies Indian organizations are using to flourish and promote innovation.

Indian entrepreneurship
In the “Indian Entrepreneurship 2.0” panel, a trio of start-up founders, Neetu Bhatia (KyaZoonga), Bharat Goenka (Tally Solutions) and Anupam Mittal (People Group), offered forthright insights on the challenges and opportunities facing Indian start-ups.

Goenka said that India holds the tools and human capital to be an entrepreneurial society.

“Fundamentally, the DNA [for entrepreneurship] exists,” Goenka said. “The question now is how do we make people think bigger?”

Mittal said that increased cash flow from investors and a shifting cultural view of entrepreneurship have positioned India for business development like never before. He predicted that disruptive innovation would accelerate in India as entrepreneurship, rather than management, gains acceptance.

All three panelists, meanwhile, rallied against the idea of “Indianizing” Western ideas and pushed for more indigenous innovation.

“You just can’t use a cut-and-paste approach without understanding the customer and how the market works,” Bhatia said.

Social Innovation Competition
The conference also promoted social entrepreneurship as it played host to the Social Innovation Competition. The event was sponsored by the Kellogg Center for Research in Technology and Innovation.

Four finalist teams competed for $15,000 in prize money before a quartet of judges that included Kellogg professors Mohanbir Sawhney and Paul Christensen. The teams included:
  • Zip Tractor, a provider of affordable, mechanized farm equipment to Indian farmers; 
  • Nutraceutical Market Solutions, which looks to combat anemia in India with a fortified biscuit that meets daily iron intake needs; 
  • Runners-up iNsure, which aims to provide weather insurance to India’s landless farmers; 
  • and the champion, UpSkill Capital, a group of six soon-to-graduate students who have developed an educational lending plan to improve access to vocational training and employment.

In victory, UpSkill Capital’s Apaar Kasliwal ’12 relished the judges’ feedback as much as the $10,000 award.

“When people who have been on the ground in India endorse our idea, it gives us the extra confidence to continue developing the plan and to hit the ground in India ready to execute,” Kasliwal said.

Further reading 

Destination: India
Kellogg professors get an inside view of Indian business on the faculty version of Global Initiatives in Management

Investing in India
The 2011 India Business Conference explores the needs and changes in the fast-growing nation