Hero-worship of startup founders

The idea of a messiah or a hero with an iconic cult status who would save humanity from the clutches of evil power has always instilled hope and faith in the minds of the common, struggling mass. Hence, in India, the rise of any upstart has managed to build a considerable fan following and celebrity hood. This has mainly happened in the fields of arts, culture, cinema and journalism. In the 70s, 80s, 90s, the cover pages of several eminent publications flaunted personalities, who seemed god-like to the common people. They dominated the landscape like colossal monuments and grand statues to aspirations, fulfillment and goals.

Over time, with more opportunity and ‘free market’ policies, the gap between commoners and royal people narrowed, leading to less of such devotion, apart from the likes of film stars, of course. The silhouettes of many a heroes or celebrities slowly receded into the background until again another revolution happened in the mid-2000s. And this time the paradigm completely changed and ultimate disruption happened as heroes emerged from the ground, as ‘salt of the earth’ people who brought in a completely different wave. They were mostly professionals, who quit their stable, secure jobs to experiment with their ideas, start new businesses. Some of them who came from nowhere and with nothing into unknown, uncaring urban cities suddenly made fortune and made huge success of themselves. They formed companies worth billions in valuations; hired best of the resources from B-schools and created new, liberal and flexible work culture. They steadily became the juggernauts who posed threat to the bigger, established players. Add to that, we also formed a government who strongly betted on the emerging ‘start-up India.’.

And newspapers, magazines from all across started dedicating special pages to start-ups, entrepreneurs and told the stories of the founders with much gusto. As the students from the ivy league schools such as IIM, St. Stephens too started venturing into this space, a culture of ‘hero’ worship began around these people. The idea that common business-people could also form glamorous, romantic images in the minds of the people started catching up, quite rapidly.

The world has already seen many such flamboyant figures in the field of business who have received utmost devotion from the common people, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Indra Nooyi, the best among them being Steve Jobs, of course, who was himself more a showman than a marketer, businessman. And people definitely worshipped Jobs like a hero, a messiah. And it seems, now in India, it won’t be long before a messiah would come in the field of business, who would save people from the trap of ruthless lay-off, inequality, nepotism. Till then, let’s enjoy many more colourful cover pages of such disruptors.

Meghna Maiti

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