Bangalore - At one glance, most Indian information technology entrepreneurs look no different from their Silicon Valley counterparts: They're in their 20s, wear casual clothes, are go-getters and risk-takers and are likely to be millionaires.
But they face more problems in this high-risk, high-gain trade in one of the world's poorest countries from a lack of capital and a limited domestic market, to inadequate infrastructure and expensive hardware.
Undaunted, many would-be entrepreneurs flocked to Bangalore on Friday for the third day of IT.com, Asia's largest information technology fair, seeking to make their millions. Some 376 companies from all over the world are represented in the five-day convention, which is sponsored by the U.S. government.
"For long years, to do business in India, one had to be born rich. Now that has changed with IT and the Internet," said Prakash Kulkarni, the information technology secretary of Karnataka, the southern state where Bangalore, one of Asia's technology hubs, is located.
India has leapfrogged over several developed countries in the area of information technology and the Internet, thanks to government promotion and a large English-speaking talent pool in this former British colony, where English remains widely used.
Young Indians based in the Silicon Valley in California and in Indian cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad have created a wave of successful companies that have earned wealth and created jobs.
More than 185 of the Fortune 500 companies acquired customized computer technology during 1999-2000, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies, or NASSCOM, a leading industry organization. Most of the 11 Indians on Forbes Magazine's list of 322 billionaires this year have made their fortunes through information technology.
"The culture here was: joining a company, serving there the whole life and retiring from there. No more," said Raj Popli, president of The IndUS Entrepreneurs, a Silicon Valley-based company that supports start-up information technology ventures.
"India's economic freedom will be brought about by this information technology revolution," Popli said. "For entrepreneurs, this is the best time."
For each success story, however, there are thousands of failures because of a lack of venture capital the seed money to start the projects. Venture capitalists often fund innovative ideas that have an uncertain future but hold promise.
India did not have an organized venture capital industry until 1998. Since then, total venture capital funds are estimated at dlrs 500 million, of which technology companies received 36 percent, according to industry estimates.
In contrast, U.S. companies received dlrs 30 billion in 1999 in venture capital, of which 80 percent went to technology firms.
To attract investment, India is giving tax breaks to venture capitalists and has set up a National Venture Capital Fund to finance promising projects.
Still, it could take years for the wealth generated by information technology to begin to trickle down to the masses in poorer, rural areas, where even telephone lines are hard to come by.
According to NASSCOM, India's 1 billion people own only 4.3 million personal computers, 26 million fixed phones and 75 million television sets.
Internet subscribers are estimated at 770,000 and Internet users believed to be 3.2 million, NASSCOM said in its latest figures published in March 2000.
publiziert: Freitag, 3. November 2000 / 10:09 Uhr
, aktualisiert: Freitag, 3. November 2000 / 10:10 Uhr