Saddling Up
an Indian Elephant
Tips Based on Experience

Any business is an equation with many unknown variables. Especially when it comes to international business, in particular, in an exotic country. Anton Belyakov, CEO of TECHNONICOL India Private Limited, told us about the specifics of entrepreneurship on the banks of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. First of all, he warned: "All my advice and thoughts are purely practical. "
Anton Belyakov
CEO of TECHNONICOL India Private Limited
It all started in 2015, when our company was registered. I was personally engaged in this process, then I created a local team, communicated with banks, warehouse and logistics enterprises, and attracted clients. I will give you tips based on my five years of Indian experience. They will help you understand the specifics of the business in this country.

Tip 1
Forget about your ambition: here you are no longer a top-class businessman

If you are planning to start or develop a business in a country like India, just forget about your ambitions, past achievements and victories. You may be incredibly cool in your country, but definitely not in India. No one will ever help you, all decisions will have to be made absolutely independently.

To register a company in India, you will have to find a trusted person (either an Indian citizen or your compatriot living here for more than 180 days a year). This person should become one of the directors on the company's board. But keep in mind that it is you who will bear all the risks. Also, do not expect your margin in India to be the same or higher than in your country. It will not. Don't even dream about it.
Develop a plan, then follow it!
Believe only what is written on paper - in a document or letter.
The words spoken but not recorded on paper are just words.

Tip 2
Forget about corruption: there is no "dirt" here

I often happened to conduct various negotiations with both private clients and large institutions such as Larsen&Toubro and Reliance Infrastructure. I must confess, it is not simple. Especially at first. And that is why:
  • their English is hard to understand;
  • Indians are very attentive to details and numbers;
  • for the negotiations not to be a waste of time, you will have to take care of the Minutes of Meeting or the Memorandum of Understanding in advance to document actual agreements, or issue a Purchase Order to confirm that the transaction will take place.

Now, attention. There is no corruption in India. The widespread opinion that everyone here gets kickbacks is a complete lie. So never discuss these issues with anyone. If the client wants a commission, he will take the initiative himself, and you will officially (!) pay the amount based on the transaction results.

Also don't talk about religion, don't criticize dirt or unsanitary conditions. Even as a joke. It may be rare, but it still happens that the locals take seriously what is supposed to be a joke.

Tip 3
Forget about comedy: they love "drama" here

No matter how funny it sounds, but Indians love "drama. "Flying across India, on airplanes I often witnessed someone push their companion and start talking to them in a raised voice and even shouting.

At first it seemed to me that if I was to blame for anything, then, accordingly, I had to do something to resolve the situation. However, it turned to be quite a typical behavior for Indians. And in business, in this peculiar way, they show that they need something from you. Hence the phrases like "I need it urgently", "Extremely glad", etc.
The phrases like "The transaction will fail, because everything is too slow!", "Everything needs to be done urgently!", "This is extremely important!"should not unbalance you. Your counterparts are waiting for your mistake. Do not live up to their expectations, otherwise you can lose a lot!

Tip 4
Forget about expatriates: here you will have to recruit locals

Upon the project launch, you will most likely want to involve Russian specialists. I warn you: it is expensive. By the way, I am the only "non-local" employee in our company. And it was me who selected every member of our team. According to my experience, there is a huge risk of hiring the wrong people. To minimize it:
  • you should understand clearly what is happening in the company and how (structure, responsibilities, etc. );
  • if you are a CEO, you should personally recruit the employees for key positions during the first stage of the project.

And remember: in the XXI century, there are a lot of different of IT systems to control the work of your staff! You can make use of them.
Corporate Issue, Moscow Department
of Investment and Industrial Policy
Audience: 16+