The Smartest Unknown Indian Entrepreneur

I just got done reading this article about a startup that originated in India, but now has offices in Silicon Valley. This marks the beginning of a trend in Internet startups coming from outside of the United States. The low cost of labor plus an abundance of smart entrepreneurs poses a mounting threat to the long dominance the United States has had in the Internet arena.

For the growing number of startups founded in America, this poses a significant risk. No longer can we count on our technological advantage to keep our status as the dominant player in this field. Thanks to the proliferation of open source software and the continuing drop in the cost to buy server hardware or workstations, smart entrepreneurs have found ways to create competing products and form price points that undercut their American competitors.

In particular, this article discusses the startup Zoho which provides an online version of office productivity software that is usually the domain of Microsoft or SalesForce. This company employs around 600 employees in Chenna, India. Most of the employees are not even college graduates. In order to attract cheap talent, the company recruits intelligent students from high school and then trains them (on-the-job training) for 9 months. After this training period, the employees are comparable to a typical college graduate but don’t require the same level of pay (due to their education, age, and prior experience).

This type of thinking outside of the box is leading to major innovation in the startup arena. It is something we in America will have to watch closely, and make similar adjustments if we are going to stay competitive.

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