The Indian startup echo chamber

While chatting with an Indian entrepreneur over the weekend, a really interesting discussion came up. He mentioned that the Indian startup ecosystem is starting to become more of an echo chamber. When prodded for more information, the reason he cited is because of the numerous ‘startup related’ events being organized all across Indian cities.

If you look at the various events – Proto, HeadStart, BarCamp, IAMAI events, Startup Saturday, Open Coffee Club, Startup Lunch etc., you keep meeting the same set of people over and over again. Since you happen to bump into the same crowd, the same ideas kept getting tossed again and again.  Most of these events have a lot of wannapreneurs in the audience. What we really need is for more of these wannapreneurs to ‘start doing’ and become entrepreneurs. That way, we have a fresh flow of ideas and interaction happening in the ecosystem.

Additionally, some of these events are mere fluff. Some of them have become more of a social outing rather than a useful medium for entrepreneurs. What I need is a forum where I can shoot some of the problems I’m currently facing as an entrepreneur, which happen to be primarily technical at this point. Some hardcore geek problems. For example, if I have a scalability related question, I can easily post the question to the forum. Or a CSS related issue. In short, less talk, more action. Few bystanders, more hackers.

I have pretty much quoted him as-is from the chat we had. At his request, I’m keeping him anonymous at this time.

What do you think about the experience above ? Agree – disagree ?

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  1. Agree oh-so-totally.

    That, and there’s a disconnect between the with-it crowd and the real market out there – in fact I have wondered on occasion if kudos for or uptake of a certain product or feature in the confines of the blogosphere indicate a tough-sell to real world users and consumers – especially in the Indian context.

    To just echo the echo chamber – we need an ecosystem 2.0 ;) Share real world use cases, combine marketing efforts and generally look beyond the web 2.0 and VC-funding issues.

  2. I completely agree with your anonymous friend. Same people, same conversations, ego massages, tried and expired ideas, boring experience sharings etc. And yes social outings !!

    We do need a new way to think about things. If at all something that is out of the mundane comes up, please keep me posted.


  3. Absolutely agree. Most so called startup focussed events that happen in India are essentially social outings. I’ve never been to an event where real world problems are discussed, problems which entrepreneurs face. Barcamps and MoMo, startup saturdays, open cofee club are all filled with geeks with no real interest in entrepreneurship and are all about social gatherings.

  4. Hehehe.. Totally agree!
    Ever since entrepreneurship became a buzzword in India, we have all tehse events highlighting SMEs and stuff. Unfortunately, as rightly pointed out by ur anonymous friend, the same people come and talk about entrepreneurship. And the same people come and attend every event, thinking that this event would start their tryst with entrepreneurship.
    Maybe we should have a “Kick Off” summit, where every participant is actually forced into starting with their idea :)
    No talk… Only action.

  5. + 1 from me too.

    I’ve attended proto, 3 barcamps(two Delhi and one Bangalore) and momo.
    Keeping aside proto which I found really useful both knowledge wise and networking wise rest is pretty much the “echo chamber” you talked about.

    As Saurabh said its mostly the same ideas, same people and invariably most of them are not really quite there. Most of the audience is either freelancers or employees of some MNC who are caught between being an employee and employer but not quite ready to take the plunge yet. Ego massages, Social Networking and freebies being some of the motivators.

    I’d really like to see a meetup where only entrepreneurs and not wannapreneurs(love the word) come and discuss real issues, opportunities and explore possibilities.

    PS: A notify follow up comment pluggin would be a nice add

  6. go to for your technical problems. if you really want to find solutions as an entrepreneur keep in touch with silicon valley blogs. they are class apart right now and we have long way to catch them so its better to be in sync with them right now.

  7. Wow – it seems that the post struck a chord considering how many of you are echoing the same sentiments. If so many of you share the same sentiment, then I guess we all need to step back and take a long hard look at the ultimate goal of all these events.

    @saurabh – Reading all the comments above got me thinking. I have a couple of thoughts on building an effective channel for entreprenuers — As soon as I have something concrete, I will let you know.

    @abhishek – I agree. I have found stack overflow to be incredibly helpful in working on technical issues. Reading SV blogs is one thing, getting help / answers from someone who’s been in that situation just makes it more effective. Besides, sometimes, some problems might have an ‘Indian context’ to them (payment gateway, marketing) and in those cases, the SV blogs might not be of much help.

  8. This problem of having only wannaprenuers and no real entrepreneurs cannot be solved if the organizers of the event do not take a concrete steps towards having a right balance. We here at OCC Delhi make a concerned step to have atleast 2-3 startup guys who relate with their experience and give solid advice that is both realistic and in line with the problems faced in the real world market.

    I think startups in India need to come out a bit more from there shell, and be active participants in these events. I have seen a handful of guys, like avinash & piyush from routeguru, rohit @ techtribe and others who really give you genuine advice and even go out of the way to guide you in overcoming obstacles. Sometimes you just gotta be blunt and ask for help in the face, rather than expect people to stand up and ask you to put you your problems on the board.

  9. Pros / cons of starting an internet startup in the social networking space in India vs. silicon valley especially for someone that’s been out of India for the last 15 years (other than the usual family visits every couple of years or so)?

  10. Most of these events have a lot of wannapreneurs in the audience this concept is helpful really

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