At a time when entrepreneurship is defined by innovation and not experience, businessman C.K. RANGANATHAN writes about how this could be a positive trend.

Having grown up in a time when we had to book a trunk call and wait to make a call outside the city, I am amazed at the kind of technology youngsters today are exposed to. I would have found it difficult to make the most of this kind of technology that is available today at the time of setting up my business. Unlike my generation, kids these days are born into a technology-driven world. This access to technology, better learning and endless networking is what gives today’s young entrepreneurs an edge over us.

The way businesses are set up and run has changed drastically since the time I started out.

The opportunities are more now and the traditional methods are questioned and challenged. Look at Mark Zuckerberg; he isn’t even a graduate but is one of the richest men in the world, thanks to an idea. Now is an “idea to execution” world.

A business today HAS to be technologically wired; web-based or otherwise. This foresight is what made us one of the early adapters of technology in our business – manual to computerised accounting, SAP implementation and more.

As far as the trend of youngsters getting into businesses is concerned, I only see a positive side to it. We established businesses used to look only at other similar established businesses as competition.

But now all that’s changed. We are being challenged by new, young businesses. The dynamics of the industry can change just like that! It’s a challenge for us veterans. We need to acknowledge their knowledge, just like the time when my son remarks, “Daddy! You don’t know even this?” We now need to look at how we can engage such talent in our business.

Every year we recognise and reward creative start-ups with a turnover of not more than Rs. 5 crores with the Cavinkare ChinniKrishnan Innovation Award. While processing applications for this initiative, I have been impressed by their quality of thinking. Most youngsters, I have come to observe, are choosing to walk the road less travelled. That requires a lot of guts and mental tenacity. They are ready to make mistakes and fight the odds. Talent and confidence are other common factors.

One thing that amazes me about young entrepreneurs these days is their 360 degree thinking. I don’t think I would have done that at their age. These young businesses are well connected.

At the same time, I have noticed that they are weak when it comes to patenting and legal issues. They are not aware. Youngsters setting up businesses need to put that extra effort and familiarise themselves in these areas.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that they are stuck on, “I require funds!” They have a great idea but do not know how to market themselves. That’s where technology can help too. Besides being well connected to their customer base, the entrepreneurs should use it to find and connect to funders too.

We live in a time when reaching out across the world is just a click away. So make the most of it and keep up the challenge!

C K Ranganathan is the chairman and managing director of CavinKare.