Taming Innovation – the reality check and the design for success in the Co-COVID world.

Taming Innovation – the reality check and the design for success in the Co-COVID world.

Viiveck Verma, Founder – Upsurge Global & Senior Advisor at Telangana State Innovation Cell in a conversation with Ramdas Shenoyy from stirfrymba.com

Role of innovation in the business world

Innovation plays a very critical role in the business world as the world is ever-evolving and thus very dynamic and the business world needs to keep pace with that. With advanced technology and evolving lifestyle, customer requirements are changing all the time. With constantly evolving economies in this rapidly changing world, we need to keep pace to stay ahead of the curve. This requires a constantly innovative approach for businesses to stay relevant both for the customers and the market as a whole. The innovation is not only in the product or service but also in the way they are manufactured, distributed, priced, and marketed amongst other things.

Innovation is the most critical factor for the survival and strength of the business. Innovation is forcing organizations to adopt ‘Design Thinking’ as a core for success. Technology too is  a very important parameter, with so much happening all around us ,it is critical to not just keep pace but be a trendsetter and that requires constant innovation. The resource crunch whether people, material, or funds also forces businesses to look at innovation for growth and survival.

Public-Private Partnership — how close is the tyre to the road in real life

This is a very critical piece for real growth to happen. At present it is largely seen in large infrastructure-related projects and has not percolated down to other areas. The reason is more with economic driving factors whereas ideally it should be more focussed on skills that institutes bring to the partnership.

Once the model gets established the Government’s role should be largely restricted to enabling necessary environment and the efficient running should be left to private parties. Only then, the true success stories will start emerging. The focus of the Govt should largely be around providing support and let the operations be run by private players as that way the adoption of technology, innovation, and best people practices will be faster and cheaper. The connect with the customer requirements will also be better captured and fulfilled in this model. This model has to move beyond Infrastructure and Social Impact areas to our day to day lives as that would impact the way India operates and bring efficiencies to the fore.  

Start-up success stories — is the eco-system for start-ups ready in India

Last few years has seen a lot of improvements in the start-up scene which has triggered celebrations but India has a long way to go. There is a need for a shift in the mind set as even now entrepreneurship is not considered as the first choice by the masses. As a culture, India has been a Job Seeker and while progress is noticeable, it needs to be seen as a Job Giver culture. Besides the challenges remain with regards to material or people or funds – as these are not easy to come by for a founder and the struggle does not allow many to survive. This is seen as a deterrent for people to get into this space.

The policy framework also requires to adapt to this new world so that the various compliance-related issues for the environment to become start-up friendly. While some states, departments, and policies are slowly changing with time but the structure is still not conducive for the start-up eco-system. Some states have taken the lead in this space and created frameworks and enabling conditions for start-ups to flourish but the entire ecosystem needs to be able to keep pace and have uniformity for us to see success as a whole. The aspirational India which still largely resides outside the urban pockets needs to be brought to speed to these changes and encouraged to take this route which is a far cry presently. Having said that if India has to succeed and have its rightful place in the economic world order the only way is for it to promote the culture of Start-ups as this eco-system if powerful can force a shift in the overall economic well-being of people and economy.

What do you see when you invest in a new start-up?

I personally look at the following when I consider investing in a start-up:

  • Founders and their backgrounds
  • Market Opportunity and its size
  • Solution being proposed and its scalability and replicability
  • Unit economics of the business    
  • Monetization opportunity 
  • Exit options in future

Out of these the 2 that stand out the most for me are the Founders and their background and the size of the market opportunity. The founders play the most critical role as the world is ever-evolving and they need to be ready to change with the changing times and be flexible to take feedback. I personally don’t invest in single founder start-ups as my belief is that for the sake of business continuity and also for bringing complementary skills to the table it is critical to have a few co-founders.

The new initiative Upsurge

At Upsurge Global, our vision is to empower entrepreneurs to exercise their true potential. We are a consulting firm. 

 It is no secret that COVID 19 has changed the face of the world as we knew it a few months back. At Upsurge Global we offer consulting and coaching services, to help you advance with compassion during a crisis. Situations we had never imagined to be normal are now beginning to become the “new normal”. This “new normal” is testing the hardiness of every business leader, entrepreneur and seasoned professional and their ability to bounce back, restructure, shift or pivot a large part of their life or work to a virtual environment.

Many tools and techniques of professional coaching are scientifically proven to reduce stress, help people build resilience and capacity, retain and develop top talent, get unstuck and move out of fixed patterns or mindsets and bring purpose and meaning to life. Our coaching provides an opportunity to make major life and work changes and navigate this change, seamlessly.

As a leader, a motivator on the personal and professional front, advice to young minds

My advice to young minds would be to use this pandemic as a golden opportunity as this has really created a level playing field for many businesses and opportunities lie in being able to find solutions quickly to this rapidly changing world. This new world is something that none of us are prepared for thus the winners are going to be people who think on their feet and come out with solutions to meet this “New Normal”.

Some areas are really evolving and being shaken at the core of their existence like Healthcare, Education, and Entertainment, and loads of opportunities will lie here and the need for the hour is to adapt to them quickly. On a personal front, my advice to the young minds is going to be to stay patient and calm while maintaining the focus on the long term as this is just a short term. While this is a tough phase but this is not the first or the last we have seen and this too shall pass. We all need to preserve the most precious resources we have which are our health, mind, and wealth as if we have these we can face any challenge. The need of the hour is to ensure that we don’t let these get affected. Preserving cash is very critical both at the personal and professional level as that will determine survival and growth ahead

The other advice from me to the young minds would be to never fear Failure as this is an integral part of our life and the faster we learn that failures are very good for long term success the better it will be for the young generation. The thing to keep in mind is that we can’t repeat failures as that shows we are not learning and as long as we keep learning from failures it’s a very good thing. The more we fail early and learn the better our future is going to be. We somehow don’t celebrate failure enough in India as that’s been a cultural issue and we need to change that quickly. Most of the success stories have often come out of failures and we must remove the fear of failure from our minds as then we can really operate at our best and real innovation and success lie there.

The last piece of advice from me to young minds would be to ensure work-life balance as this pandemic has shown more than ever the importance of our personal lives and our friends and families and our own well-being. So it’s important to find the balance and pursue some personal goals alongside the professional ones all the time and never be shying away from those.

India Inc in the post-COVID world

To start with I see the future to be Co-COVID rather than Post-COVID as this is here to stay and it’s going to take a while for this to really completely pass. We must get our minds attuned to this fundamental concept for progress to happen. This is very critical as then our minds will start operating in a manner to start activities with adequate caution but not be waiting for things to settle down.

I foresee this as a great opportunity for India in the post COVID world as this has offered a level playing field in many areas for India to compete on the global play. Many manufacturing opportunities now open up for India with a shift from China happening and it is now for India to seize this opportunity with both hands and run. However, this opportunity can turn into a great success if India Inc really rises to the opportunity as an ecosystem with both the Government and private players playing their parts in bringing speed and efficiencies to the table. Similarly in areas of Education, Entertainment and Healthcare lie many more opportunities for India to take leadership positions as we are well equipped with brilliant minds and technology available at our disposal. With the economy under stress in most parts of the world, the Indian Demographic is also going to play a very critical role in the new economic world view and this position is for India to grab. I personally see this is and new “Y2K” moment for India and the good part is that unlike the Y2K this is not restricted just to the IT Industry but spread across many sectors and hence the upside for India could be significantly larger. I remain an eternal optimist in my thinking that India will emerge even more powerfully out of the COVID situation to occupy its rightful position as an economic and intellectual superpower of the world. 

The Co- COVID world is here to stay for a while and let’s all capture the imagination of the world by bringing the true value of our rich culture, heritage and knowledge to solve problems of this NEW NORMAL and so it in a manner that puts us in a driver’s seat.

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