India is on the cusp of possibilities. With more than 65% of country’s population below the age of 35, better-than-ever internet connectivity and a smartphone market that has brought millions of people online, the critical mass has been building up and has brought India to an inflexion point.
Looking at India’s demography - we would need to create over 10 million jobs a year to make the most of this young population. Entrepreneurship can be rewarding for India’s fast-growing economy that is being hailed as a bright spot. Startups can be the new job engines - in many countries, they are the only ones bringing new net job growth. In India, they have already created over 80,000 jobs.
There was a time when cars were seen as disruptive innovation. Last century -- when cars were first invented -- people had to walk in front of them waving red flags in the US. It seemed a sensible way to regulate a new technology at the time. But the world has moved on, quite literally. It’s hard for regulatory change to keep pace with innovation but the scope for disruptive innovation is much higher today than ever before.
Today, technology is once again transforming the way we move around our cities and Uber’s six-year journey is a testimony of that. Governments across the world recognise that the innovative technology can help decide the pace and scale of our economic growth and have even gone to the extent of launching programmes like Startup India.
Most of these startups may have been started to solve a very specific need but along the way, they have come upon solutions to much more complex problems. Uber wasn't started with the idea that it would become an engine of economic activity or income generator for millions. Uber started out to solve a simple problem - the need to get a ride across town. Just over six years and over two billion trips later, we’ve stumbled upon something bigger, a new way to help tackle congestion and pollution in our cities.
By bringing carpooling at the press of a button, we can get more people in fewer cars and it’s a model that has shown results in cities across the world. Since the launch of uberPOOL across 7 cities in India, ridesharing has helped reduce over 48 million kilometres from being driven while cutting over 5.3 million kilogrammes of carbon emissions.
Similarly, many other startups are helping unlock solutions to various complex problems - be it access to healthcare or financial inclusion. With the abundance of new ideas and the opportunities that lie in India - we are seeing entrepreneurs in India building things ground up.
There is a great possibility that the powerhouses that will drive the global economy in 2025 are companies that we have probably not heard of today. There is every possibility that many of these companies do not even exist at the moment.
Many of these could be launched from Silicon Valley, but they could very well be from places like Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad where entrepreneurs are working on some breakthrough ideas.
For hungry, impatient and bursting with ideas entrepreneurs - there isn’t a better time to self-start!
Written by Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Head - Public Policy, Uber India & South Asia.