And yet, for all these barriers, new firms are emerging in unexpected places. Vinayak Chatterjee, who graduated from IIMA in 1981, first joined a consumer-goods firm. After deciding against a life-sentence of selling soap, he went on to establish Feedback Infra, an engineering and consulting firm in Delhi that specialises in infrastructure projects. With 1,250-odd staff, half of them engineers, and a list of blue-chip and government clients, it exemplifies the kind of high-end services that India could excel at. Mr Chatterjee reckons his costs are a quarter of rich-world firms’. Big parts of this business are “no different fundamentally from IT outsourcing”, he says. The priority for now, though, is to build scale at home. With about $50m of revenue, growing by about 30% a year, the firm is on its way to that goal. A flotation would be a natural next stage in a few years’ time.Reminds me of the bold statement Steve Jobs once made to former Pepsi exec John Sculley when he tried (and succeeded) to woo Sculley to run Apple: "... prefer to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?" (refer to 1983-1993).
So you can choose: Become a global entrepreneur or sell soap in India for the rest of your life!
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Illustration credit: Feedback Infra