The co-founder at ‘be radical’ and Silicon Valley’s Singularity University’s Chair for Entrepreneurship & Open Innovation, has also worked on major projects at Mozilla, Google and eBay. Pascal was on a 16-city speaking tour last month and invited here by Entrepreneur’s Organisation. Excerpts from
The Indian experience
I travel 3,50,000 miles a year. But never in my life had I made it to India until August this year. I had even brought my team with me. There’s a whole bunch of large Indian start-ups known around the world, including in Silicon Valley. Examples include Flipkart, which was acquired by Walmart, and companies like Ola and Oyo. During my interactions with younger start-ups with 5-10 members in Delhi and Bengaluru, I realised that the quality of entrepreneurs was exceptional, as everyone was well-educated. The quality of the ideas and the companies was encouraging too. During a New Delhi start-up event, I told the attendees that the quality of the ideas of some companies that had attended the event were equal to, or in many cases better than those of many start-ups at Silicon Valley. We have the right ingredients in India to create start-ups that can solve real world issues.
Emerging fields around genetics (DNA sequencing, identifying predisposition to diseases, microbiomes, gene editing) is very interesting in the Indian pharma context. Mobility is a global opportunity considering the traffic volumes. Areas like healthcare and education hold huge potential. India has a big population of young people. So, there are more interesting problems for entrepreneurs to crack in India as opposed to other nations.
Protectionism and free flow of ideas
The internet for the first time has connected more people than the telephone – to exchange ideas and transact with each other. What we see globally – in the US, in Latin America, or even with Brexit – is devastating. If this continues, it will be an impediment to the growth of all countries. Lots of the large problems – climate crisis, displacement of people, nationalism – these aren’t challenges that can be tackled as a single country or a region. It takes a united world to solve problems of a humanitarian nature. You can be in small town in India today, but with an internet connection, you have access to the same resources and marketplaces as a high-tech start-up in NYC, Bengaluru or San Francisco.