The original article appeared on EntrepreneurIndia.
It is not feasible for a budding entrepreneur to start a new venture in the A&D sector, for several reasons, the most important being the requirement of extensive domain knowledge & considerable work experience.
The term ‘start-up’ is a catch-phrase today. Start-ups are increasingly achieving success in every sector – be it technology, healthcare, eCommerce, services, etc. However, this is one phrase that cannot be applied to any enterprise in the A&D sector, since the long gestation period ensures that by the time the industry sees any returns, it can no more be classified as a ‘start-up’. Lack of funding, lack of trained technical manpower – right from engineers to shop floor workers, unfavourable procurement policy of government and restriction on the export of defence items etc, are some of the key challenges that discourage a new entrepreneur to step into the A&D space.
Here are four reasons highlighting the challenges faced while starting a new venture in Aerospace and Defence:
1) Starting a new venture in A&D sector requires specialised knowledge – be it in the electronics, mechanical, hydraulic or pneumatic domain. This sector needs products with high precision, ruggedness to withstand extreme conditions, and reliability over a long period. Therefore, the enterprise should have the capability to design and manufacture these specialised products.
2) The stringent testing procedures are expensive and time consuming. The entire cycle, from understanding the RFQ and bidding, to the final testing, acceptance and receipt of payment from the defence organisation is a very long one. The entrepreneur should be able to withstand the financial burden for a long period of time. Since it is a ‘long-gestation’ industry, finance is not as easy to obtain as in other fast-growing sectors.
3) The A&D sector is a highly demanding and specialised engineering sector. The industry needs to possess a distinct culture that lays emphasis on rigidly controlled processes, quality of output, attention to details, documentation and traceability, etc. Any industry that possesses these qualities and enjoys accepting challenges can find this sector highly rewarding and satisfying.
4) Since the A&D sector is dominantly controlled by the Government agencies, one need to be extremely patient and bear the slow decision making processes, even in cases where there is an urgent requirement.
Thus, it is not feasible for a budding entrepreneur to start a new venture in the A&D sector, as it requires extensive domain knowledge, considerable work experience and the ability to bear the financial burden for a length of time before realising any returns.
Making youth self-sufficient to take up entrepreneurship in A&D sector
In an attempt to empower fresh engineering graduates with the basic skills in design and manufacture, Raj Narayan initiated a training program named DRONA, a school of engineering practice. The program exposes fresh graduates to live projects and focuses on creating skilled engineers, especially for the Electronics and Aerospace & Defence sector. This gives them an insight into the complete design and manufacturing process of specialized defence equipment. Any engineering graduate, who opts for the DRONA training program at Radel, will be mentored by veterans of industry and well-known guest faculty.
DRONA attempts to address all the key issues associated in imparting skills to the engineers. The trainee goes through a complete transformation of the thought process, by which the critical, analytical and innovative skills blossom. At the same time, the graduate is trained in systematic quality analysis and documentation processes.
A major weakness among the engineers lies in communication skills. The Drona program provides training in written and oral communication skills, business etiquette and time management too. Drona offers courses ranging from 3-day orientation to a complete 6-month program.
Over the years, the program has transformed more than 150 such engineers. Radel has launched Drona as an initiative focusing on producing skilled engineers so that they cannot only ‘Make in India’, but ‘Create in India’, ‘Design in India’ and ‘Innovate in India’.