Check the definition of entrepreneurship on Wikipedia and you will find it as ‘The entrepreneur perceives a new business opportunity and often exhibits biases in their perception and subsequent decision to exploit the opportunity’. Popular perception sees an entrepreneur as someone who is on a perpetual quest to find new avenues of wealth creation for himself and his stakeholders through economic innovation. This has been the view for the longest time and still is. However as much as this is true, there is a parallel entrepreneurship phenomenon steadily unfolding in many parts of the world. Creation of tangible social value along with economic value is emerging as the primary mission of a set of entrepreneurs. Their ventures are passion-centric, mostly focused on innovation for local communities and based on the ethos of social good and ethical conduct.
There clearly seems to be 2 categories of entrepreneurs – ‘Opportunistic’ and ‘Indie’ (or Independent) and they can be distinguished based on the following:
For an Opportunistic entrepreneur success most often means achieving financial and business goals that conform to the interests of shareholders by ruthlessly chasing rapid growth and profitability. On the other hand Indie entrepreneur has to make difficult decisions to strike a balance between his dual mottoes of social impact and sustainable profits.
Opportunistic entrepreneurs like Sachin and Binny Bansal, Founders of Flipkart, are purely focused on operational and financial growth. High market penetration thru competitive pricing, large product range and a wide geographical reach are the primary goals they chase.
Megha Gupta, CEO Dharavimarket.com is a socially focused entrepreneur. Through her e-Commerce portal, Megha provides sustainable livelihood to the artisans of Dharavi by helping them earn a better value for their efforts. Her success lies in tangibly impacting their lives thru both social and economic intervention.
One of the biggest differences between Opportunistic and Indie entrepreneurs lies in the way they perceive entrepreneurship itself. Pursuit of Money versus Pursuit of Passion sums up this difference. Indie entrepreneurs most often build an enterprise around their passions than scouting for opportunities to pursue in the market place.
Bhavvish Agarwal, CEO Ola Cabs, identified a promising scope in the niche virtual wallet space post Ola’s success as India’s #1 cab service provider and launched Ola Money. He successfully created a need, established Ola as a pioneer in helping customers pay conveniently and thus captured the market.
Popular travel Instagrammer Lauren Bath quit her job as a chef to pursue her passions for photography and travel. Being the “first professional Instagrammer” of Australia, Lauren works with the Tourism brands to provide them visibility to her huge fan base thus effectively monetizing her passion.
While Opportunistic entrepreneurs deliver value to their customers through competitive pricing or better product or service offerings Indie entrepreneurs are primarily focused on social value creation thru positive impact on target communities.
Riteish Agarwal, CEO Oyo Rooms, leads the budget hotel marketplace by outranking Taj Hotels, India’s premium chain of hotels. Standardization on key measures in each room like free Wi-Fi , breakfast and spotless white bed linen all at a modest price range starting from 999 rupees to 1,500 rupees are the key points on which Riteish focuses while serving his customers.
Rahul Panicker, CEO Embrace Innovations, delivers value to mothers who cannot afford postnatal treatment by providing them with body warmers for their newborns. As an Indie entrepreneur, Rahul not only runs a successful product business but also lends a hand to combat infant mortality at grassroots.
Scale is the built in philosophy of an Opportunistic enterprise and it applies to its marketing efforts as well. With huge budgets to spare, opportunistic entrepreneurs spend heavily on traditional media like TV and Print. As against this Indie entrepreneurs employ organic social media tactics and word of mouth marketing to reach the masses.
Kavin Mittal, CEO Hike Messenger recently launched Hike’s TVC and 360 degree marketing campaign in India after their follower count crossed 20 million. With paid advertisements on social media being a hit, Hike is also milking online ads, grabbing the top spot in instant messaging space in India after WhatsApp.
With a sole intention to promote an idea and generate awareness, indie entrepreneur Arunabh Kumar, Founder TVF, helped his entertainment startup boom the charts with a huge fan following on You Tube turning TVF into an internet sensation overnight. Today it has more than a Million subscribers on its channel.
Though entrepreneurship is associated with certain traits like aggression, scale, opportunism and rapid growth, a new breed of entrepreneurs are soundly demonstrating that it may not be necessarily so. Interesting isn’t it?
How would you categorize yourself?