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Some Small-scale Startup Ideas for Indian Entrepreneurs

Posted on Thursday, Oct 27th 2016


To help inspire Indian entrepreneurs to spot opportunities for startup businesses, I’ve shared several startup ideas with the lens of developing small, bootstrapped businesses this year. Some of these ideas take a second, smaller-scale look at projects that I wrote about back in 2009 in Vision India 2020 and were originally designed to scale to very large numbers, to become billion dollar enterprises. These ideas are specifically written for Indian entrepreneurs, but could also be adapted to other markets as well.

  • High Quality Eldercare In India – Back in 2009, one of the projects I had developed was called Care. The premise of the project was that the number of millionaires are increasing in India by leaps and bounds. At the same time, many of these families have need for in-home caregivers to take care of their ill, mentally-ill, or elderly family-members. Care would provide trained in-home caregivers in domains such as Alzheimer’s. And Care would source its staff from among women in disadvantaged situations – battered, abused, abandoned women who needed safe, secure family situations to be part of. I took another look at this project and found the idea to be quite amenable on a smaller scale.
  • Unique Artisanal Fabric-based Products – In 1M/1M, we have been working with a wonderful company from Ahmedabad, India, called The Creative Artisans, which specializes in artisanal fabrics. Gujarat, for the uninitiated, is a region of India known for its textile industry. In working with them, however, I see a wonderful opportunity for apparel, accessories, and home furnishing designers to develop products and build small/medium e-commerce businesses using artisanal fabrics.
  • E-Commerce Focused On High-end Ceramics – As with other Vision India 2020 ideas, Gagori was also originally designed as a billion dollar project. It focused on using Japanese and Italian designers working with Indian potters and ceramicists to create high-end dinner sets, vases, platters, pots, etc. You can read it here. Once again, there is a comparable opportunity with some of the same ideas, but without the need to scale at exponential pace. You could build a set of e-commerce businesses that specifically focus on high-end ceramics.
  • HARO For Indian And Global SMBs – HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. In case you do not know about the service, you should. It’s a site that has gathered numerous journalists and businesses, including a large number of small businesses. Journalists place queries for sources and businesses – “experts” – respond. Since I don’t receive as many global pitches as I would like to, how about a service that specifically focuses on recruiting global SMBs and global journalists? I would be interested in using such a service.
  • To Address the Talent War In India – The Indian IT industry is going absolutely gangbusters. In addition to the highly acclaimed Services industry, over the past decade, a thriving startup scene has also now come together. Across the board, however, a tremendous talent shortage is developing. Especially for entrepreneurs trying to build stable product teams, the battle is uphill.
  • Combining Italian Design and Indian Craftsmanship in Fashion – If you’ve read Vision India 2020, you may recall a project called Urja which explored the idea of creating a fusion brand with Italian designers working with Indian artisans and craftsmen specializing in different domains such as Chikkan from Lucknow, Tasar from Bengal, etc. Now I have a different lens on. I am thinking of small-scale ideas that will stimulate a thousand new brands, each focused on a specific craft, a specific style of customer, and sell through channels that are easily accessible and not very expensive.
  • For Indian SMB Channels – If you are trying to sell B-to-B software to Indian SMBs, you know that it’s a very big market, and by and large, inaccessible. There are hardly any mature channels through which to cater to this audience of customers profitably.
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