Monday, April 5, 2010

Entrepreneurship in India – The role of mainstream media


The Economic Times had a story yesterday on the growing popularity of group buying sites in India. I do not read the Economic Times daily and definitely not from end to end. I rely mostly on recommendations from people I follow on twitter or my friends.  But I had completely forgotten that there are other people I know who read ET.

In the afternoon, I got a call from my grandfather who asked me what was I upto and how was my work coming along. I updated him about my plans. As always, he asked me to focus on my health and have a clear mind on whatever I was planning to do. He then told me about the story he had read in ET about group discount sites. He thought the whole idea of group buying through a website was very innovative. He then encouraged me to be positive and continue my work with a positive frame of mind as there were a lot of opportunities, evident from the success of group buying sites.

The key learning from this incident was the importance of the mainstream media in promoting entrepreneurship in India. One of the biggest barriers to start an entrepreneurial journey in India is the social cost that entrepreneurs have to pay, highlighted well in this article by Gautam Gandhi of Google. Most people who aspire to be entrepreneurs in India follow blogs like, participate in forums like VentureWoods or network with others in organizations like TiE. At such places, the people you interact with are inherently entrepreneurial who understand the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur in India. However, the general junta does not read and it can be sometimes difficult for entrepreneurs to explain what they are trying to achieve.

Here comes the role of mainstream media. If I had told my grandfather about the concept of group buying sites and its potential, it would not have carried the same weight as the story in ET. That is the power of mainstream media. People associate a news story with prestige and if entrepreneurs are covered in ET then surely entrepreneurship must be prestigious.

It takes time for new ideas to be accepted in society. The idea of a private sector job over a government job was unthinkable in the 90’s for most. However, now you have IAS officers quitting their government positions to go through the one year program at ISB to prepare themselves for a private sector job. Similarly, the idea of quitting your job and jumping into the uncertain world of entrepreneurship was and in many cases still is unthinkable. But surely, with coverage like the one in ET yesterday, the unthinkable shall become the acceptable pretty soon.


  1. u r right Shashi...
    The mainstream media plays a very vital role...
    I regularly read the sub-section "Farmer's Notebook" under the section Sci & Tech in the Hindu every Thursday. It gives a beautiful insight into the innovations done at grass-root level.


  2. Thanks for the recommendation sirjee! Will keep an eye out for that section in The Hindu!