Education

Start-up?Focus on soft skills

Wadhwani Foundation, President and CEO, Ajay Kela

According to a recent TiE Delhi-NCR-Zinnov report, “COVID-19 and Vulnerabilities in the Indian Startup Ecosystem,” 15% of startups are temporarily closed and 44% have a cash runway of less than 6 months. I will. 52% are having a hard time raising money. “The impact of the pandemic on entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem was severe,” said Ajay Kela, President and CEO of the Wadhwani Foundation. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he added that the pandemic had a positive side. That is, many tenacious and creative entrepreneurs have changed their approach, re-strategic, pivoted, survived, and demonstrated incredible resilience, innovation, and patience. Excerpt:

The Wadwani Foundation announced the Sahaya Tai Initiative last year. How did you support your SMEs?

It has helped 1,000 SMEs in India and Mexico through business survival and growth, and helped build the ability to take advantage of current opportunities in the market. This support has expanded the Wadhwani Foundation’s internal team to 60 business consultants, led by a network of more than 500 consultants and field experts, advisors and mentors.
Under the “Sahayata Covid-19 Skilling” initiative, we trained 10,000 rupees of healthcare workers (including Asha and Anganwadi workers) with interactive videos, and under the “Sahayata Public Health Innovation” we have six early stages. Funded the company. It has a large impact on public health infrastructure.

Which areas should entrepreneurs focus on this year in the new work world of 2021?

While the pandemic has hit many sectors debilitatingly, it has also provided immeasurable opportunities for other sectors. Sectors such as healthcare, logistics, e-commerce, fintech, agri and edtech are recognized as sectors that will ride the wave of growth in the short term. Recent funding trends have shown to include HR technology, clean tech, retail technology, online gaming, automotive / mobility, and cloud-based enterprise software.

How important are your skills to succeed as an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship, by its very nature, faces challenging challenges, uncertainties, and an ever-changing work and market environment. Unwavering entrepreneurship defines a startup journey, which is part of the softer skills acquired, such as customer centricity, critical thinking, problem-solving, perfect written and verbal communication, and the future. An edge that can provide entrepreneurs with a competitive edge.

Did you actively empower your students to create startups?

We inspire, educate and support entrepreneurs at various stages of their journey. For example, the Wadhwani National Entrepreneur Network (NEN) runs a one-year entrepreneurial practitioner course for professionals, masters and graduates. Under this, we have trained over 3,000 entrepreneurial teachers and over 100,000 students over the last 10-15 years. There’s also Wadhwani Venture Fastrack, which drives startup success, measured in terms of revenue and customer growth.

As companies shift out of China, does this provide an opportunity for Indian students who can think big, think differently and perhaps launch new start-ups?

With China’s growing isolation in world trade and rebuilding its global supply chain, many European and US companies are now actively considering India as an alternative supply hub for China. “Make in India” and “Atmanirbhar” promoted by the Government of India are accelerating this trend in risk mitigation from China. Indian entrepreneurs who take advantage of this opportunity by addressing product gaps and building the ability to expand production have great opportunities here.

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Start-up?Focus on soft skills

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