Entrepreneurs of the world have all been pushed to a digital milieu and businesses are being compelled to adapt to the digital boom very rapidly. This is a time when every business leader needs to pivot and reinvent their business, said the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Speaking at The Economic Times-Femina Women in Tech Conference, the Executive Chairperson of Biocon, further elaborated, “Today business success is all about pivoting and for that to happen speed is essential. Earlier model of 5-year plans must be replaced with immediate digitization of operations and 3-year strategies that are deployed within 1-year.”
Reminiscing about her own struggles in the early years of her entrepreneurship, Shaw said that when she took her idea to the market, it was much ahead of its time, and that in essence, it was a biotech startup of the 1990’s. Back then she faced humungous challenges to raise capital and gain access to talent. But now, it is much easier for biotechnology startups to get capital as venture firms and government have opened the coffers.
However, Shaw opined that startups are still unable to get adequate capital to bring their ideas into fruition. She stressed on the importance of raising debt, since it doesn’t dilute equity and allows entrepreneurs to focus on their business idea, by keeping them in control. She, thus, advised present-day startups to not shy away from seeking debt, as long as they can envision paying it off.
Changing tracks, Shaw also touched upon the subject of women leaders in the life-sciences space. She said “A large number of startups in the life-science domain have women as co-founders. I think, women are finally realizing that they can become entrepreneurs. There are almost 250 tech startups in India with a woman at the helm – which is a very good number to start with.”
Expounding on the topic, Shaw further opined that the challenge for these startups lies in scaling up their business. While entrepreneurs are able to raise the initial capital relatively easily, they, however, struggle at the next level of financing because venture capitalists are biased towards investing in male-founded companies. This is the perception hurdle that women entrepreneurs face, which becomes even more critical because women don’t push themselves hard enough.
In her concluding remarks, Shaw, shared a pearl of wisdom from her own entrepreneurial journey. She said,
“Women entrepreneurs need to tell their stories in a much bigger way. Women tend to make even a big idea sound small, while men make a small idea sound big. Being able to tell my story very well, was one of my key strengths that helped me succeed. I could portray the long-term potential of my business very well and that made people eager to invest in my story. Today’s women entrepreneurs too, must impress upon the investors the true long-term potential of their business and get them excited to invest in their stories.”