Fortune India's 40Under40 Young Achievers Awards, which were held in Bengaluru today, celebrated the success stories of India's most promising start-ups and best businesses who are being led by young achievers. Before the award ceremony, two most important discussions were held, with the first one being a panel discussion on 'Gearing up for a Gen-Z economy', while the other a fireside conversation on 'Building India's Decacorns', which was moderated by Nithin Kamath, CEO of Zerodha, India's largest online stock brokerage.

Gen-Z Economy

L-R: Shruti Shibulal, CEO & Director, Tamara Leisure Experiences; Manish Tiwary, Country Manager India, Consumer Business, Amazon India; C K Venkataraman-MD, Titan Company (Right); Hemant Malik-Divisional Chief Executive, Foods Business ITC.
L-R: Shruti Shibulal, CEO & Director, Tamara Leisure Experiences; Manish Tiwary, Country Manager India, Consumer Business, Amazon India; C K Venkataraman-MD, Titan Company (Right); Hemant Malik-Divisional Chief Executive, Foods Business ITC.
Image : Sanjay Rawat

During the panel discussion on the 'Gen-Z Economy', the experts discussed how marketers are going all out to innovate for Gen-Z, and how this generation is distinct in terms of preferences and consumption habits. They also spoke at length about how organisations are changing to attract more Gen-Zs into their workforce.

The guests included C.K. Venkataraman, managing director, Titan Company; Hemant Malik, divisional chief executive, foods business, ITC; Manish Tiwary; country manager India, consumer business, Amazon India; and Shruti Shibulal, CEO & director, Tamara Leisure Experiences.

Speaking on the issue of challenges in retaining top talent, C V Venkataraman says: “If you go to the root cause of why they leave, it’s more changing roles perhaps and less changing organisations. And as long as organisations are able to offer them roles which are distinctive, I think the organisation would be in a good space.”

Manish Tiwary says GenZ wants to work with companies they feel proud about and be able to associate with. "It goes far beyond compensation. And they expect the companies to solve crucial problems. If the companies don’t, they believe that their values and the company’s values do not match."

Shibulal of Tamara Leisure talked about “purpose” as one of the driving forces that connect organisations with GenZ employees. “This generation has been through a lot like COVID-19 and recession, and they have gone through so many ups and downs in the last couple of years that it is very important for them to look at leaders as people of inspiration, and people who openly communicate and transparent with them."

Another penallist Hemant Malik of ITC says organisations need to continually learn from what GenZ is expecting from them. “When you define GenZ they are 25-26 years. Most people join organisations at 23-24 years old. I think the biggest point for us is to learn what this generation (GenZ) is expecting. And the most important thing is how much you can learn for yourself."

Building India's Decacorns

Rajeev Gowda, vice-chairman, State Institute for Transformation of Karnataka
Rajeev Gowda, vice-chairman, State Institute for Transformation of Karnataka
Image : Sanjay Rawat

During the conversation on 'Building India's Decacorns', the experts discussed what it takes to build a decacorn at a time when start-ups are facing a funding winter. They also talked about bottlenecks to growth and how up-and-coming startups can overcome those, and the sectors that provide the most scope for future growth.

The experts during the fireside conversation included N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder, Infosys, who was also the chief guest at the Fortune India's 40Under40 Young Achievers Awards event, and Rajeev Gowda, vice-chairman, State Institute for Transformation of Karnataka.

On contemporary issues with the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru, considering its sheer size and ever-increasing problems like traffic, city management, and facilitating businesses, Gowda says the volume of traffic is creating a situation where "we are not able to be as productive" and are quite stressed as it takes hours to get from place to place. "So how are we going to fix that is the central issue...if we can make the city commute come down dramatically, it would make a huge difference."

On the issue of banning commercial carpooling in the city of Bengaluru, Gowda clarified that the state government didn't ban carpooling but "commercial use of private vehicles" in the city. "If you are going to use your private vehicle commercially, then there are other things like insurance in accidents and various other things that we need to consider. Nothing is coming in the way of carpooling."

Gowda also talked about the state initiatives that are being implemented to expand Bengaluru. "60% of the GDP of Karnataka comes from Bengaluru. We need to go beyond Bengaluru." He also talked about retrospective taxes on cryptos and online gaming, saying it is probably going to shut down these sectors or force them to move out.

Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy
Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy
Image : Sanjay Rawat

Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy talks about the need for a robust market for market estimation in India, which causes investors to overestimate it. “We do not have market research companies that can go deep into the market, go into the trenches, and give an estimate of the market opportunity with a very high level of confidence,” Murthy says.

Talking about today's entrepreneurs, the business icon says: "Today's entrepreneurs are much smarter than we were, there is no doubt about that...for several reasons. The biggest competition is in the market for revenue and the market for talent. When I co-founded Infosys, along with my colleagues, the talent was easily available. But today, talent is extremely difficult to get because of so many opportunities available. Secondly, we all took the easy route as we focussed on export markets. Even today, in the top companies in IT services, 90-95 revenue comes from abroad. But the beauty of the current entrepreneurs is that they all are fighting in the Indian market, which is not easy because the country has still not come to a certain maturity level in appreciating the power of tech in gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace."

Sharing lessons learned from his entrepreneurial journey with upcoming startups, Murthy says: "I learned a few lessons from my failures and then I founded Infosys. God was kind and it went well. It is not what age you spend...it is not what gap years you have. What is important is from the failures, whether there are any indelible lessons one has learned, that will overcome the various lacuna that existed in the first attempt. No VC will be bothered about how your first attempt went, they'll be bothered about how good your current idea is. That's all."

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