Victor Hugo, a renowned French novelist, once said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” In India, there are three arenas where business opportunities are waiting to be fully explored.
These are not brand new spaces. But there is considerable scope to revitalize business activity in these three segments. So, which are these three potential bright spots? In my opinion (1) Biking (cycling), (2) Mindfulness training for teenagers and (3) Domestic waste recycling are these three bright spots.
Indians are becoming health conscious. This is evident from rising consumption of low-calorie, low-fat and herbal products across various consumer segments. Most people are changing their lifestyle to include some or the other form of daily physical exercise.
This has lead to exponential growth in business spheres which cater to this changing pattern of behavior. Companies operating gymnasiums and yoga training centers or selling sports equipments and dietary supplements are therefore finding huge scope for expanding their business horizon. But despite of rising awareness about fitness, biking remains one of most under explored areas. Although there in tremendous increase in cycling activities around metros and big cities, the average rate of change in sale of bicycles considering smaller towns is fairly low. Sports bikes are catching-up with teenagers and adults.
Numbers of top bike brands which are now available in India have increased too. But a large chunk of population is not fully aware about investing decent amount of money in bikes. This coupled with absolutely negligible bike renting options, leaves huge gap to be filled as far as cycling as an activity in India is concerned. Residents of developed countries look at biking as an inseparable part of their daily routine. Several companies use bikes as transit solution for employees inside their corporate campuses.
Unlike India, biking is not children’s recreation or cheaper means of transport for citizens of these countries. It is as sophisticated a form of travel as any other automobile. This revolution is about to begin in India. Startups who wish to make their mark around biking business have great days ahead. This could include import and sale, manufacturing, renting or running of biking clubs.
(2) Mindfulness Training for Teenagers
Teenagers are susceptible to violence, addictions and depressive state of mind. They tend to take the path of least resistance and adhere to social norms surrounding them. They fall prey to bad habits, aggression and falling desire to concentrate on academic development.
All this makes them under confident and reduces their ability to excel in their chosen area of interest. Most Indian parents are awfully worried about disproportional attention of their teenage children towards studies or physical activities. They then seek solace in engage their children into more and more extracurricular tasks to keep them busy in order to divert their attention from things which are likely to cause damage to their tender minds.
But little effort is presently made to train them to think in the right direction outside their school classrooms. Therefore with growing need to shape young minds towards self-conscious mindful behavior, there is a huge potential for startups to take it up as potential business idea. In fact more than the business, it’s the socio-cultural impact which startups can aspire to create by running ventures that cater to this urgent and pressing issue faced by working parents of teenagers.
Like swimming, dancing, painting and many other classes, there are very few mindfulness classes for kids. Such efforts are mostly ad-hoc exercises conducted by schools through camps or workshops. What remains untapped is a well designed form of organization which goes beyond a week long program.
It is perhaps time to recognize that many, if not all, teenagers need tuitions to help them cope-up with internal imbalance faced by them at a very early stage in their formative life. Startups which are planning this move will see themselves grow in leaps and bounds.
(3) Domestic Waste Recycling
In India we believe that managing household waste is not a household’s responsibility. We dump the waste in our waste bins which thereafter belong to the civic authorities and they are supposed to deal with the stuff.
But it has been observed across all big cities and towns that municipal machinery is not capable of handling the waste efficiently let alone the idea of recycling or converting waste materials into reusable forms like making compost etc. Government agencies have shown little or no interest in creating recycling set-up by separating materials like glass, paper, metals and plastics. There is great potential to build forms of businesses which are willing to come forward and work in synchronization with civic bodies to create and maintain such facilities.
The very idea of helping households and condominiums by offering complete solution to their waste management problems is a rewarding business plan. People are willing to spend for things they cannot manage themselves.
Many educated Indians would like to see themselves behaving more rationally in dealing with their domestic waste but they either lack motivation or method of going about making it happen. Startups which can establish model of business for operating in this space can make best use of their scientific resources to tackle a challenge whose magnitude is only going to increase with time.
Spotting trends is not always easy. Visionary entrepreneurs, who develop the ability to see the next big thing, continue to remain ahead of the curve.
Prof. Anil Kshatriya
Institute of Management Technology (IMT) Nagpur