Entrepreneur First, Employee Later: App Startups May Reverse Rules

By N Madhavan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi.

Time was when employees with years of experience founded startups and got rich selling stakes in IPOs or buyouts. Now, the design may just get overturned in the world of new age startups thriving on ubiquitous mobile applications (apps).

The new mantra could be: start with a startup, and get hired by bigger companies later at hefty salaries — because a rocking software developer is hot property.

“We have to have 10X the quality, revenue and number of developers,” Google India’s managing director Rajan Anandan declared on Wednesday as he blessed a new 5-year programme by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) to multiply 10-fold the number of developers in India.

“A bunch of them will go and work for other developers,” he said. “Imagine 500,000 really good developers. That is the true ‘Make in India’ story.”

It gets tricky to understand how people will start as entrepreneurs or early hires in a shaky startup but the current spirit is such that talented youngsters often like to set out on their own early. Sometimes, straight out of college. Quite a few of the CEOs at IAMAI’s “Mobile 10X” programme who were holding forth on how to start and build companies were 20-something folks with a ‘been-there-done-that’ attitude — and hefty venture funding to match.

The ones listening intently were even younger — though it mattered little that one who stood up to ask Anandan about funding had only two customers. The Google India head, who doubles as an angel investor for startups explains how easy it is these days to borrow a cousin’s laptop, write some code and call yourself an entrepreneur.

Startups are famous for high failure rates, and mobile app startups may see even more, Anandan admitted. “But entry costs are down to zero.”

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