What Baltic and Nordic startups can learn from Indian companies?


This is a guest post written by Vivek Patel, a Local Search Specialist at E2M, one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies based in India.

The Baltic and Nordic region are known as the home of some of the world’s most creative and dynamic economies. It is filled with ambitious and paradigm-changing startups that have big future plans, making it a perfect growing community.

That being said, it is not a bed of roses for the Baltic and Nordic companies. Just like the rest of the world, this area too has suffered the great financial crisis in recent past. As a result, many businesses especially the startups went through major economic adjustments and are still recovering. But one great thing about Baltic and Nordic region is that some of its population have the world’s highest per capita incomes and are more than willing to spend those incomes – which again enables startups to attract every level of investment. The governments are also investing heavily to develop Baltics and Nordics as the ideal breeding ground for innovative startups.

As of November 2015, there are at least 826 startups in Baltics and the number is on rise. In fact, Estonia which is the smallest Baltic state houses half of its startups, averaging 30.6 companies for every 100,000 people.

It is beyond doubt that the startup scenario in Baltics and Nordics is more than impressive. Despite that, I believe there’s 3 things these companies can lean from the Indian startups. Let’s start the discussion from getting to know shortly something about the Indian startup ecosystem.

The Indian Startup Ecosystem

It is no secret that India is one of the top potential markets many countries have their eyes on. With a population of over 1.2 billion, Indian market is complex and diverse. Most importantly, it is brimming with opportunities. A McKinsey Global Institute report called ‘The Bird of Gold – The Rise of India’s Consumer Market‘ stated long back that India is likely to become the ‘fifth largest consumer economy by 2025’ if she maintain the pace of her growth. And the country is doing more than that.

Western investors and global giants are taking keen interest in Indian market not only in IT field but every other industries as well. Uber, for example, has taken the country by storm, targeting all of its major cities. Rumors has it that Uber is spending $1 billion to win the battle against the local taxi-aggregator Ola, which has the veteran Indian billionaire Ratan Tata as one of its investors.

This is not just the case with Uber and Ola; the global giants are facing a tough challenge from the Indian startups in almost every industry. NASSCOM indicates that India is currently home to more than 4,000 startups and the average age of these startup founders is around 28 years. Better yet, these young entrepreneurs are living up to the expectations as it is clear that money is pouring in.

According to NASSCOM, startup investment in India was around $5 billion in 2015 alone, indicating a 125 percent year-on-year increase. It is indeed the youngest and fastest growing start-up industry in the world – so there is something that the Baltic and Nordic startups can learn from them too.

1. Success Matters More Than Innovation

More often than not, Indian startups are criticized for imitating western giants when it comes to business models. But that doesn’t stop them from being successful.

Let’s take the example of Flipkart. Based on the business model of the U.S. eCommerce giant Amazon, Flipkart dominates the Indian market with net revenue of $1.79 billion as of 2014. In comparison, Amazon’s net revenue in the country is around $1.68 billion. By 2018, Flipkart aims to ship 1 billion units/month by serving 100 million customers across the country.

It is the same case with Bhavish Agarwal’s Ola, which is fighting neck-to-neck with the U.S. based brand Uber. In fact, it is not just Flipkart and Ola; for every single heavily-funded startups in the Western world, India saw 50-something new companies coming up in the past few years. But there is nothing bad in it. Ideas always travel across the world and if you can leverage a business model in your local market, there is nothing to shy away from it.

The focus therefore should be more on the notion of success instead of overemphasising on innovation.

2. Acquire Ideas – And Make Them Your Own

This lesson basically comes from OYO Rooms, since sometimes you can imitate a business model. Its success, however, depends on various other factors, including how your local market reacts to it. This was the lesson that Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of OYO Rooms, learned the hard way.

Agarwal saw the vision of creating the Airbnb of India along with with Oravel Stays but the idea didn’t work mainly because the Indian market is yet to embrace home rentals wholeheartedly.

Agarwal, who wanted to build a platform to enable discovery in the hospitality industry, realized that aggregating hotels provided better business opportunity. He therefore created OYO Rooms to standardize the hotel experience and the idea was almost new to India.

At present, OYO Rooms has partnered with over 3,000 guest houses in 125 Indian cities and the estimated value of the company is around $400 million. Agarwal basically started with an emulated idea but with time he realized the real market opportunity and tailored the idea by making it meet the needs of the market.

3. Be Open To Ideas And Help

If you follow the Indian startup-market closely, you can easily point out one thing. It is a diversified market, open to different concepts and ideas – no matter how weird it may sound initially. And the young, dynamic entrepreneurs are more than willing to invest in a new idea if they think it has the potential. That’s exactly how Harshad Bhagwat started wordsmaya.com.

Bhagwat brings an English tutor to an adult student on WhatsApp for $20 a month. He has very smartly used an already popular chat service in the country to help students who don’t have enough time to attain a class get better in English.

Bhagwat realized the lack in quality in the available English speaking course and converted this as an opportunity. The lack of infrastructure should not been an issue as well, especially when you have technically advanced resources with a talent for solving problems.

What If Northern European And Indian Mindset Would Be Combined?

As said, India is often criticized as a nation that imitates the western world in more than a way. But in reality, the land is brimming with ideas. And its young population, with their passion and determination, is ready to take risks without the fear of failure. In comparison, the Baltics and Nordics are already backed by a strong creative and dynamic econo
my.

When you combine this with the passion and determination of the Ind
ian start-ups and the zeal to solve your personal pain points, there is nothing that can stop you from being successful.

This is a guest post written by Vivek Patel. Patel is a Local Search Specialist at E2M, one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies based in India committed to meeting the highest ethical standards of digital marketing services to encourage and drive strategic and sustainable business growth. He covers local search optimization, link building tactics and Social Media Marketing Services.

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