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    The month of January saw a fleet of chartered flights head for a ski-town in the Swiss Alps. Davos’ elevated status isn’t simply because it is Europe’s highest city; it also plays host to the great annual corporate circle jerk of our times, the World Economic Forum. The PR machinery clocks overtime, titans of modern industry proffer punditry to swarms of camera-armed talking heads, world leaders indulge in congratulatory backslapping—you know the drill. And yet, my biggest takeaway, as I watched the Indian media’s coverage of our contingent at Davos, came from a mention of the little guy—the start-up.
    During an interview at Davos, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka held forth on the company’s start-up seed fund, which was recently expanded five times over to $500 million. He underscored the need for young entrepreneurs to buck conventional wisdom and actively find problems to fix, creating viable businesses in the process. The IT major — probably Bangalore’s best case study of a start-up gone global—has also appointed its former M&A head to lead this talent scout.
    It isn’t just Indian companies that are looking at our homegrown start-up sector for the next big innovation. A recent slew of start-up acquisitions signals fair amounts of interest being evinced by global players. Twitter recently opened their account in India—they’ve just bought their first Indian company, the Bangalore-based mobile analytics start-up ZipDial. This comes close on the heels of Yahoo annexing software start-up Bookpad, and Facebook buying out Little Eye Labs last year. Both start-ups, apart from being run out of Bangalore, were snapped up, interestingly, just a year since their inception.
    If anything, these developments nudge Bangalore further into the global investor spotlight; we’re starting to make the transition from being synonymous with back-end processes to a potential hub of innovation. We’d do well to take a leaf out of the “start-up nation”, Israel. With a population that’s eight times smaller than all of Karnataka put together, they’ve more start-ups listed on NASDAQ than any other foreign country, including all of Europe. In their New York Times bestseller, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer ascribe this success to “chutzpah”, the Yiddish word for the ability to be audaciously scrappy, take risks and improvise. Here in India, we have our own close cousin to this characteristic—jugaad. It’s time our young entrepreneurs tap into that vast resource of ideas.
    — pauldharamraj@gmail.com

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