Amazon India recently hosted Smbhav – the first of a kind mega-summit for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and traders. The event brought together thousands of MSMEs from across India as well as stalwarts from the Indian business fraternity and senior leaders from Amazon. The focus of the summit was to discuss and bring forward topics related to the future of Indian SMBs and their journey towards the Digital economy. The highlight of the event was a fireside chat featuring Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon and Amit Agarwal, Senior Vice President and Country Head of Amazon India. Bezos was effusive in his praise for India’s entrepreneurs, calling them hardworking and resourceful. On the previous day, Bezos had gone and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat and even participated in Makar Sankranti festivities. “I flew kites yesterday with a bunch of kids!” he exclaimed.
Bezos spoke about Amazon’s initial days, saying, “It's hard to remember, but 25 years ago, Amazon was a tiny little company. And you know, not only was I driving the packages to the post office myself, but I was wrapping them and, and preparing them and, you know, doing all the things that small entrepreneurs do.”
Answering Amit’s question on why Amazon is the best place to experiment and fail at, Bezos said, “See if you know in advance that something is going to work, then it is not an experiment. So, you want to be doing many experiments per unit time, as many experiments per day, per week, per month, per year as you can because that's how you get innovation. Innovation is all about maximizing the rate of experimentation. And so you have to organize to be able to experiment and you have to have a culture that supports failure. Amit and I together, we've been working together for two decades and I have failed together so many times and that is that is, it's another way of learning.”
Bezos then made a series of announcements. He said, “We’re committed to being a long-term partner of India. And actions speak louder than words. Over the next five years, Amazon will invest an incremental US$ 1 billion to digitize 10 million MSMEs across India, helping them reach more customers than ever before. This initiative will use Amazon’s global footprint to create US$10 billion in India exports by 2025 and will help create 1 million new jobs in the next five years. We will also establish 100 Digital Haats in cities and villages throughout India.”
Bezos also spoke at length about his passion for space travel and his work with Blue Origin. He explained, “We have to take care of this planet, and if we want to continue to grow as a civilization, we need a dynamic, entrepreneurial civilization with space entrepreneurs that will use the resources in our solar system. Blue origin wants to reduce the cost of access to space by a large magnitude. And we need reusable rockets to do that.”