V. Sunder believes entrepreneurs need to take a lot of risks. He says, “There are pitfalls and problems along the way, and it helps to have mentors, who can, in some cases, help you avoid common mistakes.” He adds, “But the biggest pitfall is surrounding oneself with the wrong people. The right people are those who are going to encourage you to keep going even if you feel like quitting.” Another pitfall is to stop learning new skills once the start-up team has started attaining some level of success, informs Sunder. Learning new skills and building on already attained skills is important to stay relevant in the market.
Ganesh Shankar says, “One of the pitfalls an engineer falls into is trying to do all the work in-house. A start-up team should concentrate on its core strengths and do only what it can provide maximum value addition to; the rest should be sub-contracted to various suppliers.”
The current advantages
There are many advantages of setting up your own business in India, believes Subramaniam. He says, “First, there’s a huge local market. Today, we are importing nearly all our electronics. So there’s a huge opportunity in terms of the local market. India is also well-recognised internationally, with regard to technical skills.” Sunder believes that today, with the power of social media and the Internet, it is possible to source funding or get across to an angel investor. He says, “Marketing and publicity can go viral, and reach out to millions or to a large customer base at a single go, which is a blessing.”
Comparing the current situation to the time when Chaddha started his business in the 90s, he feels that there are plenty of advantages for engineers today. He says, “At that time, there were many hurdles. For instance, to get Adobe Acrobat Reader, I had to pay nearly ` 8000. Today, Adobe Reader comes free of cost. Another instance was when I bought my first compiler—I had to pay US$ 4000. Today, if you go to Freescale’s website, you can easily download its compiler free of cost.” He adds, “Those days, I had to first convince my customer to believe in my ideas, and based on that I used to borrow money to execute them. Today, things are much cheaper. But on the flip side, since lots of engineers graduate every year, there is more competition. When I started my business in embedded electronics, there were very few people in the field because costs were pretty high. You needed at least US$ 10,000 to start developing your own products. Today, Texas Instruments sells one of its kits for just $ 5. Thank the Internet for the low-cost resources available today.”
Chaddha informed that for his first design, however, he was able to get the development board and all related software on loan from Freescale (it was Motorola at that time) and he made his first product at almost zero cost.
[stextbox id=”info” caption=”A few ideas for the business you may want to start”]
Servicing of office electronics equipment. This seems like a successful business idea that does not require any investment until you start expanding. The target could be small and medium business firms, since they might not have the time to repair or service their electronics equipment. With a small servicing kit, regular servicing can be offered, so that it becomes a long-term profitable business.
Electronics/PCB components assembly. This is a work-from-home, minimal investment freelance option, where you can offer electronics assembly services to local low-cost business and consumer electronics products. You could definitely expand later on.
PCB CAD design services. This is a minimal investment freelance job that allows you to work from home, and there is a possibility of growing in the future. You can offer electronics PCB CAD design services to small companies and professionals who cannot maintain in-house PCB CAD design tools and resources.
The power-supply equipment business. The demand for power supply regulation and energy storage has been growing. You can design and build your own power supply products (UPS systems, inverters, SMPS, etc) and sell them to individual customers. Servicing these power supply equipment will provide a good profit after the warranty period has expired.
Designing and manufacturing electronics home appliances. This is a very good home business opportunity—you can choose a good low-cost home appliance solution like an electronic mosquito killer, electronic healthcare gadget, etc.
Cell-phone service and repairs. There are good opportunities for repairing or recycling old mobile phones and selling them at cheaper prices.
Computer and laptop repairs. This is an easy-to-set up business as the computers and laptops are built with easily-replaceable PC boards and modules. You can earn more money in less time.