Indian Web entrepreneurs should not aim for foreign markets to be successful but instead solve local problems in a way that's globally applicable, according to Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt. "We know that India's Internet infrastructure allows Indian engineers to solve the problems of small businesses in other countries. If India plays its cards right, we'll soon see Indian engineers and Indian small businesses tackling Indian problems first, then exporting the solutions that work best," he wrote last week in an opinion piece in The Times of India, ahead of his attendance at the Big Tent Activate Summit in New Delhi.
During his trip, Schmidt met several Indian entrepreneurs and also wrote about successful online businesses in India like Kanaja, RedBus, and mDhil in his column.
While Schmidt was gung-ho about India’s online opportunities, he called on the Indian government to opt for an "open Internet that benefits all" instead of a "highly regulated one that inhibits innovation." He said that society flourishes when this is a free and open Web with unbridled technological progress that allows information to be disseminated and consumed freely.
He insisted that since one-fifth of the five billion people that will get online in the next decade will come from India, much of the country's cultural enrichment will come from Web startups and small businesses.
At the Big Tent Activate Summit, in a conversation with Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, Schmidt also expressed his disappointment with the Internet infrastructure in the country.
"The fact is that fiber solves every connectivity problem, but you (India) don't have enough of it. The telecom industry here is under-capitalized, and they don't have enough bandwidth. The Internet here feels like America in 1994, with tremendous upside," Schmidt said.