15 books on startups, innovation and creativity in India

Launched in 2012, YourStory’s book review section offers more than 340 titles on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and digital transformation. See also our related sections Turning, Tech Tuesdays and Bites of stories.

India’s entrepreneurial boom has come in successive waves: traditional manufacturing, IT/BPO services and a wave of digital startups. The 15 pounds in this compilation cover the rise of the startup ecosystem in India, including technology, business and social entrepreneurship.

The social and environmental challenges facing India call for sustainable growth models as well as corporate social innovation. Specific books focus on groups like India’s youth, sectors like the burgeoning media ecosystem, practices like design thinking, and grim challenges like feeding millions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indian startups are attracting the attention of global investors and corporate giants, thanks to engagement models such as accelerators. The major engineering and management schools have given birth to generations of inspiring entrepreneurs.

Innovation competition and challenges attract the best entrepreneurial minds to solve India’s problems at scale. The innovative spirit of “intrapreneurship” is sweeping through some corporate groups, as evidenced by books on the Tata and Hero groups.

We hope you enjoy our selection of 15 outstanding books capturing the dynamics of India’s evolution, and we look forward to even more. progress, peace and prosperity in the next 75 years of India’s independence journey!

Shifting Orbits: decoding the trajectory of the Indian startup ecosystem, by iVEIN

This book, published by the Innovation Venturing and Entrepreneurship in India Network (iVEIN), provides comprehensive research on the dynamics of India’s startup boom. The 22 chapters are written by 30 contributors and cover policy, sector impacts and resilience to the pandemic. India’s innovation journey unfolds in three phases: 1950-1990 (led by government and academia), 1990-2015 (liberalization, support for GCC enterprises), and From 2015 (local needs, Startup India, Digital India, NEP). See our book review here.

The Maverick Effect: The Inside Story of India’s IT Revolution, by Harish Mehta

How did India’s IT powerhouse emerge from a bureaucratic and corrupt ecosystem in the 1980s? What values ​​and principles have helped them win over policymakers at home and tech giants abroad, while weathering the waves of crises? These questions are answered in the form of storytelling in this captivating book by Harish Mehta, founding member and first president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). See our book review here.

Social entrepreneurship in India: a quarter of idealism and a pound of pragmatism, by Madhukar Shukla

The rise of the social innovation movement in India, along with profiles and roadmaps, is well documented in this book by Madhukar Shukla, Professor of Strategic Management at XLRI Jamshedpur. The nine chapters of the 256-page book are thoroughly documented and are based on 120 organizational examples. The book is a must read for budding social entrepreneurs, innovators, academics, policy makers and impact investors. See our book review here.

Be a champion of impact: embrace corporate social awareness, by Priya Nair Rajeev and Simy Joy

CSR, corporate social innovation and social entrepreneurship are three pathways to becoming an impact champion, as described by Priya Nair Rajeev and Simy Joy of IIM Kozhikode. The book is packed with frameworks, charts and case studies of corporate social impact initiatives in India. The need of the hour is social awareness, collaboration and action aligned with business strategy. See our book review here.

Doing better with less: frugal innovation for sustainable growth, by Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu

This authoritative book outlines six principles of frugal innovation and explains why India can be a forward-thinking practitioner and thought leader in this space. India is in a unique position to harness trends such as the sharing economy, the maker movement and the circular economy. Ecologically sustainable innovation is the way forward, says innovation consultant Navi Radjou and professor at the University of Cambridge Jaideep Prabhu. See our book review here.

The Indian media industry: pandemic and after, by Vanita Kohli-Khandekar

This captivating book provides a wealth of information on India’s media boom, spanning print, television, film, music, radio and digital. It covers trends and transformations across all industries, spanning business interests, regulation and social impact. Vanita Kohli-Khandekar has been tracking India’s media and entertainment industry for nearly two decades. See our book review here.

Gorillas Can Dance: Lessons from Microsoft and Other Companies on Partnering with Startups, by Shameen Prashantham

This guide provides valuable advice for business leaders and startup founders on how to collaborate for innovative gain and a better future. It includes engagement models like business accelerators, many of which have emerged in India. In-depth frameworks and case studies are provided by Shameen Prashantham, Professor of International Business and Strategy and Associate Dean (MBA) at China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. See our book review here.

Barkat: the inspiration and story behind one of the biggest food drives in the world, by Vikas Khanna

In his inspirational book, ‘Barkat’ (abundance), chef and humanitarian Vikas Khanna shares his food drive buildup during the pandemic in India. He captures influences such as the spirit of generosity infused by his grandmother and the experiences in the langar community kitchens of the Golden Temple. From tradition to migration, the book is packed with stories, vivid descriptions of life in India and the United States, and a series of life lessons. See our book review here.

The Pilani Pioneers: Inspiring Success Stories of 25 BITS Pilani Graduates, by Gaurav Mandlecha and Durjai Sethi

Founder stories, success tips, and campus nostalgia are effectively captured in this far-reaching book. Founder profiles include Hari Menon (Big basketball) and phanindra sama (redBus), and investors such as Nilesh Kothari (Trifecta Capital) and VT Bharadwaj (A91 Partners). Business heavyweights include Baba Kalyani (Bharat Forge), Harish Bhat (Auntie Son), Sunil Duggal (Dabur), and Tulsi Mirchandaney (Blue Dart Aviation). See our book review here.

7 Sutras of Innovation – Stories of scale-ups transforming India, by Nikhil Inamdar

This book chronicles the stories of organizations impacting large-scale change in India, along with a framework of seven success factors. Featured winners of the bi-annual Marico Innovation Foundation Innovation Awards are Rivigo, Goonj, Forus Health, Agastya International Foundation, Tonbo Imaging, ISRO, The Better India and St. Jude’s. See our book review here.

Dreamers: how young Indians are changing their world, by Snigdha Poonam

This book evocatively captures the energy and drive of many young Indians, but warns against the risk of being suspended between dreams and reality, between a positive future and a dystopian path. Vivid cultural depictions of challenges such as toxic masculinity and identity politics show that all is not well in the new India. Hope and worry, optimism and dystopia blend into the story. See our book review here.

Design your thinking: the mindsets, tools and skills for creative problem solving, by Pavan Soni

This book extends earlier design frameworks and documents more 50 case studies in the Indian context. The author provides a wealth of tips, examples and worksheets on individual and collective creativity. The author, Pavan Soni, is the founder of innovation consultancy Inflexion Point and a mentor for the NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore and the Founder Institute. See our book review here.

The Making of Hero: four brothers, two wheels and a revolution that shaped India, by Sunil Kant Munjal

This gripping book about the bike empire and motorcycle power Hero Group shares a wealth of stories and business principles on how to succeed in a tough and competitive world. Written by the company’s chairman, Sunil Kant Munjal, the decades-long story is a tribute to the spirit of indigenization, global outlook, frugality, ambition, competitive spirit and to collaborative ecosystems. See our book review here.

Stimulating innovation: the Tata method, by Ravi Arora

Innovation awards and leadership support can help an organization recognize, promote and celebrate business creativity. This insightful book provides frameworks and case studies of innovation practices in the Tata Group of companies. The author, Ravi Arora, is Vice President of Innovation at Tata Sons and has created programs such as Tata InnoMeter, Tata InnoVista, Tata Innoverse and Challenges Worth Solving. See our book review here.

Shine Bright: Inspiring Stories of Intrapreneur CEOs, by Rashmi Bansal

India needs intrapreneurship as much as the startup movement to bring new ideas to scale. This book shares stories and lessons from leaders of organizations in a range of sectors. Examples of eight such leaders are featured in best-selling author Rashmi Bansal’s new book. See our book review here.

YourStory also published the pocketbook “Proverbs and quotes for entrepreneurs: a world of inspiration for startups” as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, android).

Colin L. Johnson