The IndiaWorld Idea
Ideas are seeds that when planted and nurtured right give rise to entrepreneurial ventures which can become proficorns. So, how does one get the idea?
Ideas come from many sources. It could be while working and seeing problems that the current company (or any other) is not addressing. It can come from personal experience – a pain point that you experienced and which others could also be living through. It could be a copy of an idea that is working elsewhere – in another vertical or in another geography. It can originate in conversations with friends. It can come from extrapolating a trend and imagining a new future.
For me, the idea of IndiaWorld came from my own frustrations in the US in getting access to news about India. While studying at Columbia University, I would go to the library to read the newspapers and magazines from India – all of which arrived about two weeks late. Those experiences stayed with me. During 1994, when I realised that my imaging software business had failed, I had to start thinking about what to do next. It was then that stories about the Internet and its potential started appearing in international business magazines.
(An aside: my father subscribed to many publications. His belief was that one had to know the cutting edge ideas across fields. It is a lesson I have not forgotten to this date. I pay for various online publications – a simple belief is that a single idea from any of them is more than enough to pay for the cost of all of them many times over. Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post – they have some of the best tech and business writings. I have even subscribed to many others. In the world of free and abundance, the paid curated sources of knowledge are what have value.)
The dots started connecting: the World Wide Web could bridge distances, Indians in the US could get news and information without delays, the Mosaic browser with the HTML protocol could make access to this information easy, and a web server would make publishing that information simple. All of these ideas came together to create what later became IndiaWorld. I still remember my first experience of using a service called Netcruiser to connect to the Web in September 1994 during a US visit and accessing sites with a click. The excitement and potential convinced me of its power and potential to forge an “electronic informational marketplace.”
In just about 6 months after that in March 1995, IndiaWorld was launched. It had taken about a year since the first idea to launch. IndiaWorld was the first portal globally with a focus on India. Our early mover advantage helped me live through various setbacks and emerge successful in the subsequent years.
An entrepreneur’s idea is deeply personal – it is not always easy to persuade others of the world that will come to be. It is a competition for the future. Of course, execution matters and so does luck. But the idea is what starts it all – the idea that sticks, refuses to go away, becomes better with each passing day and conversation. These are the ideas that lead to the inventions and innovations which make our world better – and at the heart of each idea is an entrepreneur.