Why can’t Indian startup founders get married?

I think we all realize the biggest demotivating factor for founders in India is the cultural bias that Indian society has towards a well paid job. Entrepreneurs with ideas are not motivated to go ahead and take the plunge; failures are not celebrated; support systems from parents, colleges, governments and society as a whole are weak.
What’s often overlooked is how all that impacts on personal relationships, particularly marriage. It’s a topic that I’ve been contemplating to write about for some time.
While the founders at TripHobo have been lucky to find our soulmates, I see numerous startup founders in my network struggling to find one. It’s tough because entrepreneurs must focus so completely on running their startup.
I can only narrate the male point of view here, from the perspective of a male startup founder. Getting married in India is a big deal. A very big deal. As soon as your parents and relatives see you earn decently in a well paid job, you are immediately seen as a ripe target to be sold in the marriage market. I don’t know why, but Indian society and culture wants its young to “settle down” immediately – with a good job, a good wife, a good house, a car, and a couple of kids. If you can’t achieve this in a limited timeline – like, a job by the time you graduate, marriage by the time you are 30, kids before your wife turns 30, a house before you are 33 – you are considered a big failure.
It is important to achieve all these in the timeline – or else something is seriously wrong with you. That’s what society dictates.
“Grow up, son”
Now imagine if you are a founder. You are chasing a dream, you are chasing a passion; you are on a different track. You are trying to do something different. You understand that life and youth are limited gifts and it’s up to you to utilize them in chasing your dreams rather than chasing societal norms.
Once you decide to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, the first consequence is that your girlfriend (if you have one) will leave you. Next, your mother will have hypertension and will tell you that you are going nuts. Your father will ask you to grow up.
If by some chance you get a proposal through the “arranged marriage” route (you may not get one at all because you don’t have a proper job), you are going to be rejected. No exaggeration.
A cousin got married to a very intelligent chap who has recently graduated from IIM Ahmedabad. My sister’s parents were happy that now their daughter is going to have a happy life because their son-in-law is “highly educated” and has four or five job offers in the bag. However, the son-in-law had the entrepreneurial itch and founded a startup for trading mobile accessories. My sister’s parents were dejected. The last time I met them they were criticizing their son-in-law for being stupid and hoping that he finishes whatever he is doing and gets a job quickly. It was like they were praying that he fails quickly.
The Indian middle class sucks when it comes to supporting entrepreneurship. So this is my request to all the women out there – please don’t reject that entrepreneur boyfriend or be disappointed at that entrepreneur husband. They may fail or they may succeed. But you will definitely have an intelligent partner who will value you the most – because he knows you value him over his job, whether that’s what society sees as a “proper job” or not. And don’t worry about the future. Entrepreneurs have a bright future – even if they fail…

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