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Indian entrepreneurship: how unmet needs open niche markets

We always notice some unmet need that can open up a new market. If the market is a niche market, offering something totally new, the market develops. People simply lap it up. The story of Indian entrepreneurship is always based on satisfying some unmet needs, with the unique Indian flavor. Some aspects of this are sought to be discussed in this article.


Every single day, there will be a new unmet need opening up somewhere. For example, if the number of houses in a residential locality exceeds three hundred, there will always be a big scope for a good vegetarian restaurant, as at least one third of people in these houses will like to eat out on any single day. There will be enough scope for at least two kirana shops from where the residents would buy all their daily needs, so fresh and and on a daily basis.

Be that as it may, in this article, there is an attempt to discuss entrepreneurship with reference to a) the concept of unmet needs b) identifying new markets for unmet needs c) getting the chemistry right d) making new inroads and e) sustaining the momentum.

The concept of unmet needs

Every single family and human needs to survive. They want food and groceries need to cook the food. They need water and shelter. They need security as well. These "needs" are always basic needs, without which man cannot survive.

With every single passing day, there is a new market offering addressing this need. For example, some years ago, a smart entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, studied the market for a good branded gingely oil. He quickly invested in the market and came out with a good product. Called "idayam" nalla ennai in Tamil, this product was a huge success. Similarly, when people have good purchasing power, the market opens up automatically for hotels offering food at high prices. The discerning customers do not mind the increased cost, as it comes along with hygiene of a tall order. The recipe for success is complete. Accessibility, availability, reliability and customization are extremely important for success.

Identifying new markets for unmet needs

The entrepreneur needs to find out what bothers the customers most. This problem may itself lead to a new and big market. For example, in the metros, there is a huge and big market opening up for laundry services. The clothes are picked up from the houses and a receipt is given. They are washed and neatly pressed and delivered back to the customer within a maximum of forty eight hours. This is even opening up in B class cities. The scope is now huge.

Similarly, if an entrepreneur is able to zero in on good servant maids, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and home nurses (even without experience) to take care of old people, in each city, there is an ever-growing market waiting to be exploited. This market has a huge dimension in terms of not only scope but also distance. For example, entrepreneurs do not take up any single work that exceeds a distance of more than ten kilometers from their office. This is because the need to personally supervise the work and to ensure that utmost integrity is maintained by the contract employees is always a key requirement. Similarly, the market is opening up for a huge number of entrepreneurs who can successfully address the needs of a diverse range of IT sector employees. Some shrewd entrepreneurs have started catering services with North Indian cooks serving hot food at the door steps (the apartments) where the IT North Indian bachelors live. This is a booming market in Chennai and is reportedly catching up in Hyderababad and other major cities.

There is a huge scope for more entrepreneurs. If they can offer more variety and also open up small restaurants near a cluster of gated communities, sky is the limit. The tiffin box culture will be gone, since the employees can have hot food even at 10PM. This is another market waiting to be tapped. Old couples who are more than sixty five years and living alone in big cities can cook very little. There are entrepreneurs who approach them and tell them to just cook the rice. The sambar, rasam,and the side dishes come from the entrepreneurs at the right time, in hot condition. This is one market that is booming.

Similarly, any new entrepreneur needs to understand the unmet needs in each area and then start the business. Once the business expands, it is essential that reliability is always there. For customers always want on time delivery and customer service with a smile. Any let up in any of the variables will mean that the customer will change the supplier. There are huge choices now available in the metro cities.

Getting the chemistry right

This is true of any market, but more true of the service sector markets. For example, in Chennai city, there are builders who assign customer service representatives the responsibility of visiting the residences of the customers and then finding out the scope of customization, like the size of the pooja room, the facilities that can be provided in the bigger bedrooms and so on. Hence, the customer is very much pleased with this kind of customer care. These builders are always assured of new customers as the word of mouth publicity brings in the new customers without much advertising. This sort of transparency works a big deal. Within the exact 950 square foot, the customization is allowed and the customers get exactly what they want.

Similarly, even in new service businesses such as old homes, there is massive customization to get the chemistry right. For example, many old age couples who are above 65 years old, want to spend their time in temples and pooja. They want a river bath as often as possible. They want home cooked food customized to their needs. Even the houses should be built in the age old "agraharam" style.

There are entrepreneurs who have clearly understood this in a small but nice and traditional temple town of Kumbakonam in South Tamil Nadu. This town is home to a huge number of temples and regular visits to these temples are organized from the gated community. The charges are also reasonable. This business is booming.

The scope for such customized services is huge. There is always a growing demand for such services. Any new entrepreneur can easily enter this assured income business.

Making new inroads

Making new inroads will depend on reliability which will in turn lead to word of mouth publicity. Even if ten new customers come in, for example, in the laundry business, there is a big assured business.

A restaurant offering a niche, for example, fifty varieties of dosa can experiment with new varieties of the side dish, like chutney made out of pudina. It can also experiment with varieties of sambar. It should be noted that such businesses survive everywhere and can easily be scaled up very quickly. Any new inroads will always relate to value addition as far as the new service offerings are concerned. Aappam, a delicacy, for example, is now offered in many restaurants in many cities in South India, as there is a huge demand for it.,

Entrepreneurs can also experiment with new juices and medicine made available from herbs with a siddha and ayurveda base. The customers will simply lap them up. Today, hundreds of thousands of customers have started understanding the utility of these kinds of herbal preparations. This is a big market waiting to be tapped.

Sustaining the momentum

In any business, the momentum of business is very important. Even a shop that sells hardware items for example, should give only quality items. A grocery shop or a mini shopping centre will loose hundreds of customers if the unorganized sector items are not found to be up to the mark. These are some examples.

In the restaurant business, the service delivery is as important as the food itself. Any let up or harsh words spoken by the delivery personnel will spoil the reputation of the restaurant forever. The scope for customer feed back is now much more than ever before. Since customers are now spoiled for choice, the entrepreneurs need to be very careful with every minute detail of their business.


There is always a big scope for what we call as unmet needs. Any shrewd entrepreneur who is able to accurately identify these needs and then build a business around it, can always be successful. One need not spend a huge amount of money in the early or initial stage. One can always scale up as the business grows.

So, all budding entrepreneurs, study the markets for all unmet needs and get into businesses. The great Indian Saga is never complete. There is always a big scope for new players in every market.


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