Any discussion about building products from India is lost in the hype and din about India as an IT services powerhouse. However, the mostly unnoticed surge in product start-ups marks the beginning of a new movement, with potential to re-invent the Indian software industry. Emergence of globally recognized Indian product companies will represent the final step in the software value chain. If India can become the hub of the world’s most successful IT services as well as product companies, it can truly lay claim to being a knowledge superpower.
Building products requires a mindset, capabilities and an environment, which is very different from delivering services. Achieving this final frontier won’t be easy and Indian entrepreneurs face major challenges. There are very few role models who have built successful product companies, which limits access to mentors, who can provide guidance. Access to market requirements is difficult, since major consumers of software products are in Western markets. IT spend- ing in India is growing but still limited and global vendors are preferred. Finally, early stage funding is a major problem, and getting engineers to work in start- ups is a big challenge.
An increasing number of motivated entrepreneurs are working to overcome these handicaps, just as founders of services companies did in the early 1990s. A convergence of factors is ensuring the emergence of successful Indian product companies:
- A large pool of talented engineers and managers who have worked at global companies in India and US
- The rapid growth of local market and increasing adoption of IT with India-specific requirements especially for consumer facing apps
- Technology disruptions including the emergence of cloud computing, which make national boundaries irrelevant, and reduce cost of global sales
- Flair for innovation and risk-taking amongst a generation that has grown up in post-liberalized India
- Self-confidence that comes from an economy that is the second fastest growing in the world
- Weakening US economy that is motivating an increasing number of experienced software professionals to return to India
Since services culture dominates Indian IT, the book will continue to high- light how software product companies differ from their services counterparts, and the specific challenges that they must overcome.