Executive Insider

Rearing Donkeys, Sheep and Unicorns: Transformational mindsets in New Age Entrepreneurship

As a thinker and an educator, it has been befuddling, as to what is going to be the next generation of ideas, the blossoming entrepreneurs, their start-ups in perspective of a new age economy?

Who are these new butterflies straight from the caterpillar stage in the new age of entrepreneurship, entangled withing a contemporary scenario?

What drives them most under the complex and uncertainties ahead? How will their founders as CEO’s garden the culture of innovation and uncertainty?

Most have the bug of becoming an entrepreneur, propelled by intrinsic or extrinsic motivation but amongst the cohorts few initiate. Entrepreneurship is progressively adapting the changing needs through meeting the demands of the new technological dawn. Internet being the biggest catalyst for change, is the backbone to success.

Will this online crusade be the paradigmatic for new age entrepreneurs of the future in a VUCA environment? How are these incumbent CEOs going to respond, is left unanswered?

The Journey

Delhi based Pooja Kaul, an entrepreneur is a classical Indian example, whose enterprise ‘Organiko’ into beauty products, used Donkey’s milk as an ingredient, therefore, as an experiment Kaul tried a campaign with intentions to change the mindsets on saving donkeys. Kaul now tallies herself as a beauty life-changing aficionado with her ‘Organiko’ products and is in Forbes 30U30 Asia.

She believes that there is nothing like a bad idea in entrepreneurship, but overall execution matters! However, it is also about tapping untapped resources and reach out to create a new market equilibrium. If one was to dig deep into her ideation, it came in like the ‘Aladdin lamp’, while she was engaged in an R&D project and came across an article on a Swiss company engaged in selling Donkeys’ milk for infants. This is where her inhibitions and the combination of Indian Ayurveda stuck into, a lethal combination.

Ethiopian Shepherds in uncertainties converted their sheep into opportunities as ‘entrepreneur sheep’, if understood well in the right context. Historically, entrepreneurs have been characterized as ones who can convert ideas or inventions into successful commercially viable businesses, striding different stages of the business environment optimising resources.

The limitless challenges through different stages of innovation are a time-bound activity, engaging the entrepreneur in creative destruction by crafting newer business models, products, services and processes. In return, it is rewarded with profits, fame and a path of continuous unlimited opportunities. Scholarly research traces that these incumbent entrepreneurs cum CEOs have several common abilities like the risk-bearing capacity, being innovative, having reasonably good managerial abilities, being in the order of high achievement, maintaining a professional way of life, being engaged in professional and organised thinking and of course having a business orientation.

If we dig deeper the greatest and successful entrepreneurs turned CEOs that we can recall have been Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Charles Merrill (Merill Lynch), Sam Walton (Walmart), Charles Schwab (Carnegie Steel Company), Walt Disney (Walt Disney), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), etc. All of them exhibited a high degree of latent credibility with clarity in business.

They possessed conviction and drew in capital infused from trusted networks while relaying a high degree of flawless execution over an elongated period. As research unfolds, this breed of entrepreneurs had a strategic foresight, a clear vision and honed skill sets to counter the world of unexpected unknowns. They knew that their multiple roles comprising responsibilities would be their kitty in the journey to create and lead the enterprise. So, what was unique in them? A fine work-life balance, intrinsic motivation, the challenge to mitigate risk, the power to motivate, building reputation and leading teams are their greatest possession.

Contemporary Scenario

Entrepreneurship is seen as a source of innovation, economic, technological and social change with a competitive advantage. The new-age entrepreneurship and the start-up culture are complementary to each other, as these new-age entrepreneurs are widely educated, abreast with contemporary information, fearless and self-motivated.

Moreover, they are like their predecessors in perseverance but with a stark difference in the entrepreneurial process based on how they leverage technologies for scaling up a venture. These entrepreneurs, thus possess the know-how of networking, attracting key resources to innovate new ventures and balance the three key elements of people, planet and profit. The customer is being analysed minutely and innovatively addressed by their start-ups.

As we enter the new age of technology, individuals are driven to establish creative ventures based on technology and towards the new age of innovation like Artificial intelligence, Data Science, Machine learning, Cognitive computing, Blockchain and more for streamlining and simplifying operations and services to make human lives easier.

In a world where competitiveness is related to speed, the new age entrepreneur is engaged in using technology to reap the fresh fruits. Be it FinTech, EdTech, Health-Tech, HR-Tech, Social-Tech, E-commerce etc, its flooded. Unicorns (start-ups) have sprung in with the top five countries leading the show. USA, China, India, Germany and UK have taken the lead in creating ecosystems for fostering these new-age entrepreneurs. India stands in the race with 60 leading unicorns out of 550 unicorns who have reached an investor valuation of US$1 billion, with each struggling on average, a seven-year journey from their nascent stage of being classified as a Unicorn.

Some of these Stripe (Fintench), Space X (Space), Klarna (Fintech), Instacart (Supply Chain), Revolut (Fintech), Rivian (Automobile), Shein (E-commerce) etc are few names to mention their cluster. Zetwork (Market place), Grofers (E-commerce), Erudites (Ed Tech), Up Grad (Ed Tech-Higher), Mind Tickle (Saas HR Training), Inmobi (Ad Tech), Mu Sigma (Data Analytics), Paytym (Fintech), OlaCabs (Transport), Quikr (Market Place), Zomato (Food Delivery), ByJus (Ed Tech), Oyo Rooms (Hotel Aggregator), Hike (Messaging), Delhivery (Logistics), Ola Electric (Mobility); CoinDCX, Eruditus, MindTickle, UpGrad BharatPe, BrowserStack, ShareChat, PharmEasy, CRED, Meesho, FirstCry, Innovancer are few Unicorns who have taken the lead in the new age of entrepreneurship.

How do you see yourself as a CEO leading this campaign and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in a world of endless opportunities?


Written by Dr. Manoj Joshi.

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Dr. Manoj Joshi
Dr. Manoj Joshi, is co-Author of "The VUCA Company”, “The VUCA Learner”. He is a Chartered Engineer and currently a Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University. He is the Regional Editor India, JFBM; IJSBA and an editorial board member for journals like APJM, JSBM, BSE, JEEE, WRMSED etc. His consulting includes VUCA strategy, travelled extensively with over 29 years of experience in areas of Screw pumps Design, Heat Exchangers, Loading Arms, consulting, research and teaching. He has deep interest in dark matter, dark energy, astral travel, travelling to woods and life after death. Dr. Manoj Joshi is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.