There is a lot of hype in the online and offline media about internet start ups in India. I have an internet business but I do not have a background in programming or the internet, so my way of looking at things is different.
When I started my business, I did not know any one personally from the internet sector and even now all my contacts are strictly professional, with companies who pay me for advertising on my websites.
With all the limitations I have , I am fairly satisfied with the money I make. I have been following the internet start ups and companies in India, some of the reasons why internet usage is still low and few will succeed are:
1. Most target a very small market. If the market size itself is Rs 100 crore, even if you dominate the market, growth is limited.
2. They are usually copies of successful websites in other countries, little thought is given to the actual market.
3. The reasons why people start an online business seem to be all wrong – because it is fashionable, to get venture capital funding , to become famous.
4. I have been tracking all major stories on start ups in India for the last year , all of them seem to think that having a nice software application and well designed website will make it successful and popular. They do not realize that for the visitors, the website should be useful , design is secondary.
5. Most start up teams seem to have very limited exposure – they only seem to be knowing people with a background very similar to theirs ( may be since people in India are very status conscious and rarely try to understand the viewpoint of others who are not as lucky), this makes it difficult to develop a product with a broader appeal.
6. The internet companies seem to think they are online clones of the Indian software companies – to grow they need to hire people. My idea of an ideal online business is one which I can control and manage anywhere in the world with an internet connection, once setup it should need little additional effort, but earn a regular income.
7. In the Indian startup scene today, from media reports it seems funding = success. But it appears that startups are exploited . If you believe in your idea, why go to others for money? Most software jobs pay well , if you lead a frugal life, you can save enough . Unlike factories which require an investment of hundreds of crores, you can start an internet / IT business with less than lakh rupees.