Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt kicked off his short India visit by sharing his perspective on Indian startups and the emerging areas to focus on in terms of technology. Here’s some nuggets from what Schmidt said at a NASSCOM event in Delhi on Wednesday (watch out for our coverage from Google’s Big Tent India event scheduled for Thursday (March 21), where Schmidt will speak again).
On Indian internet opportunity
India, as a country, dominated the BPO outsourcing space for many years. However, it is not the same for web services in the country. There is opportunity to do so, even though internet penetration is only 10 per cent in the country till now. When 800 million people start using internet, that is the opportunity.
On opportunities & challenges for Indian startups
The biggest opportunity for startups in India is in the mobile apps and data analytics space. So if you are not building mobile apps, you are not doing the right thing. Android will be majority of the market in the future. Even Youtube is doing incredible work in India, even though there are challenges in bandwidth. There are spaces like mobile payments, video on internet etc that are underestimated (by Indian startups). There is a good chance for startups in India. In fact, 40 per cent of the startups in Silicon Valley are (run by) Indian entrepreneurs.
IITians are great candidates to become entrepreneurs. In future, a lot of jobs in the country will come from startups and innovation. However, you also need to have VCs who understand strategic investment.
On funding issues for startups
There are many (Indian) startups that take off well, get a funding and then their users start declining. Startups should ensure that they never run out of cash. The key is to have an audience. If you have an audience of a billion people, you can always capitalise on cash. So get the audience first, you will find a way not to run out of cash.
On Steve Jobs and his vision
An entrepreneur I really admire is Steve Jobs because he was able to command a vision. He could foresee what is going to happen. So, do not have a limited view in what you want to do. Entrepreneurs are born, they are not trained. I myself am not an entrepreneur, I am a professional.
On hiring the right people
Being an old classmate or old friend can’t be the reason for a person to be a part of your company or a business partner. We have realised that India is the place for smart technology people. What has worked for Google is hiring the right people, the right talent. If I have to take the test today to get a job in Google, I do not know if I would clear it.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)