What Indian Startup Ecosystem Needs to Learn from Bihari/Oriya Cooks

The Indian startup ecosystem is far from being termed collaborative – the difference between haves and have nots (i.e. funded vs. unfunded) has more widened and there is hardly any attempt to do things collaboratively.

Coming back to the topic, let me first tell you how cooks (especially from Bihar/Orissa) work together and promote their tribe

  • The tribe is generally very closely bounded and stays together. Typically, they form a common pool/fund.
  • When somebody new comes in (from their native village), the tribe pitches in money for the person to stay afloat. Usually, a timeframe of 1 month is given to the new member to find a job (till then, he lives on the common fund)
  • Tribe members help the new kid in finding a job as well (referrals etc)
  • Once the new member finds a job, he starts contributing to the common fund after a month.
  • Whenever somebody needs the money, the person can borrow from the common fund (pays interest).
  • The process follows the same loop whenever somebody new joins again.
    [as told by a cook]

This is an oversimplification of the entire process, but the key takeaway is the overall trust and collaboration that is prevalent in the system.

What’s important to note is that individual cooks aren’t rich – but collaboratively, they are. The common fund, as one cook tells me runs in good money and can sustain few newbies easily.

Do this – in the step mentioned above, replace ‘money’ with anything that’s scarce – ‘resources’, ‘funds’ ‘referrals’ etc etc etc and you will see the beginning of ‘collaboration’.

So why aren’t startup coming together and building their tribe? Why too many ‘have nots’ aren’t attempting to build ‘haves’?

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