Startup India: A series of uninterrupted one-liners & an action plan

It was a huge deal. First time in India, the Prime Minister took the initiative to announce new and exclusive exemptions for India’s growing startup ecosystem. And why shouldn’t he? According to NASSCOM’s report, India stands at a whopping third place when it comes to the highest number of startups in the world. After the his stint in Silicon Valley, PM Modi grew even fonder of the idea of an independent India building strong, smart entrepreneurs. Love his governance or hate it, this is the sort of vision India needed in its Prime Minister.

The power pact day, 16th January, entailed 1500 eminent speakers, entrepreneurs, startups and government officials present at the event – by invite only. The day started off by addressing basic yet vital points – Why focus on the Indian startup system? How can we nurture innovation in India?

Followed by sessions in-conversation with the policy makers of the country, women entrepreneurs making their mark in the industry and eventually the announcement of the big action plan.

Felt like déjà vu when Modi ,yet again, emphasized on Setting up of a ₹10,000 crore fund for startups. 2 years ago, the finance minister announced the launch of India Aspiration Fund (IAF) but the financial plan is yet to be shared with the public.

Other points announced included – Lower government interference in business, a credit guarantee fund for startups and a Startup India Hub – a platform where investors and startups could meet.

While a startup India hub sounds exciting enough, my favourite announcement were the Tax exemption for 3 years and capital gains. But then I realized, not many startups would generate taxable income in the first three years! I still feel like the PM got a bit too ambitious when he mentioned the launch of a mobile app and website that would enable single point of registration for startups – all in a day. The same would be used for clearances, approvals and registrations. I’m all for this, but a government app that can smoothly perform these function would be a boon and almost sounds too good to be true, especially for startups that are just starting off.

Although the day was all about the action plan, the one-liners young entrepreneurs and seasoned investors threw at the crowd stole the show. Whether it be Softbank’s Founder, Masayoshi Son, “In 25-35 years, I have a feeling, this country will surpass all other countries in the world to become No. 1 (in GDP).” or the young 22-year-old starry-eyed entrepreneur Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, OYO Rooms “I dream of a country 15-20 years from now where there will be more self employed people than the number of people employed by other companies.”

What can the Startup Action Plan do for India in the coming decades?

More startups mean more solved pain-points of the common man. More consumer based companies mean happier customers. This might just be the formula to a more content India. India’s increasing internet penetration is proof enough that startups are here to stay. The PM’s Action Plan is the perfect catalyst to shaping his Digital India, our Digital India.

Startups Are Here To Stay, Unicorns Might Fade Away #BigIdeas2016

Startups valued over a massive $1 billion are unicorns – you know that fantasy animal that doesn’t exist? In the recent past, Indian unicorns have been in the news. Whether it’s about something as celebratory as receiving huge amounts of funding series after series or a dramatic exit of a co-founder.

It’s been a few years since the ‘startup boom’ in our country and after all the gushing, people have now started talking about the possible burst of the startup bubble.

Will 2016 be the beginning of the end? I don’t think so. Yes, investors are focusing on more sustainable revenue models. And that should have been the case from the very start. But does pricey investors mean the end of startup proliferation? Nope. It only means the good ones, the right ones will flourish.

So what sparked the fear of the tech bubble burst?

One of the main factors – famous startups ended up firing hundreds of employees (on the grounds of reorganizing the company, etc)  in the past few months led analysts to come to this conclusion. While it makes sense for them to compare the rise of the startups to that of the dot com boom, the need of the hour remains unique startups set on the foundation to solve the common man’s problem – be it hospitalization or food delivery. In other words,

startups born with the aim to raise funds, gain immediate profit are bound to break in the long run while startups built for the fundamental reason to solve an identified problem – directly or indirectly helping the masses – emerge as the sustainable hero.

The much talked about visit to the Silicon Valley by our Prime Minister was made to digitally empower Indians and promote tech investment from around the globe.

Contrary to what people have started to believe, the Indian startup ecosystem is still booming.

On 16th January 2016, Modi will be announcing the complete action plan forStart-up India, Stand-up India – a programme focused to boost entrepreneurship that will help generate employment for more than 250,000 people by 2020.

For the first time, the Government of India, has planned to promote bank financing for start-up ventures. With this sort of unprecedented support and encouragement, it might as well be impossible to anticipate a bubble burst.

Previously published on LinkedIn.

Picture courtesy – flickr.com/photos/scobleizer/14213975068

Modi in Silicon Valley 2015 – What this means for the Indian Startup Ecosystem

Were you aware that the Indian startup ecosystem has reached approximately 2 million high-tech employees in about 14,000-19,000 startups?

With these staggering numbers, India has earned its reputation as the global tech Mecca (according to a U.S.-based research firm’s Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking).

The Indian startup boom is hard to ignore and caught the eye of our very own Prime Minister.

Narendra Modi might have his share of critics back home but he sure is a political celebrity among NRIs. The first Prime Minister of India to give fresh impetus to the Indian startup ecosystem, I won’t deny, I was curious to see how he would do.

At the Facebook headquarters, hearing ‘chak de India’ playing in the background as Modi and Facebook CEO Zuckerberg took their respective seats was definitely a patriotic touch that worked wonders with the present crowd. While most political officials rarely ever gather an audience in 4-digits in their home countries alone, Modi managed to attract a staggering 18,000 people at this unprecedented town hall in sunny California. While sharing a story about his initial days of struggle Mark narrated the story of how his mentor—Steve Jobs suggested he embark on a journey to visit a temple in India, while Modi revealed his insights on the marvels of technology—in hindi—which I found to be an especially interesting choice to make.

Fast forward to his speech at San Jose’s SAP arena in Silicon Valley was an unflinching attempt by the small-town Gujarati amidst tech luminaries like Shantanu Narayan of Adobe, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, John Chambers of Cisco and Sundar Pichai of Google.

Nadella modi

Nadela revealed an incident from his recent trip to a classroom in a rural setting of Nanyuki, Kenya where a group of students were engaged in a Skype conversation with another classroom located in a rural part of Andhra Pradesh, India. Satya Nadela elaborated on his vision to build data and cloud infrastructure – developing smart cities in India. This being apt to Modi’s quote on the Internet of Things “it’s been a long journey in a short time”. Think about how many doors this sort of technology opens in the healthcare sector alone. An experienced surgeon in a metro city can now instruct, guide and train doctors in Tier II and Tier III cities in real-time. In others words, it is now possible for a doctor sitting in one corner of the world to treat patients thousands of miles away through digital healthcare.

With Nadela committing to support the Indian government to provide broadband to 5 lakh villages across India, Qualcomm’s Executive Chairman Paul E Jacobs took this opportunity to announce $150 million fund dedicated to the Indian startup ecosystem. This chip-making giant is already involved in several projects in India – one such project is with the National Health Mission, to help frontline health workers assess sick newborn babies, with the ultimate goal to decrease high mortality rates. This project is one of several in the mission to change India’s current status as the top country with the highest under-5 mortality rate.

Acknowledging the vast potential of the Indian startup ecosystem, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO accredited the progress of startups like FlipKart, Snapdeal, Zomato and Quikr – a few big names from over 3000 upcoming startups in India. He also took this opportunity to announce Google’s plans to enable Wi-Fi Internet to 500 railway stations, which will inevitably hugely contribute to Internet penetration in India.

Unfettered, Modi stood high and mighty with the tech giants of Silicon Valley with the aim to start Indian entrepreneurship and connect the country’s ecosystem with Silicon Valley. This visit is expected to digitally empower Indians, promote tech investment massively, ultimately leading to more investments and more jobs.

While it might be too soon to say that India may replace China as Silicon Valley’s frontier, the startup ecosystem is undoubtedly set to grow, generating employment for more than 250,000 people by 2020. President of the US-based startup accelerator YCombinator, Sam Altman showed his confidence in the Indian startup ecosystem by stating that he foresees India coming up with multiple $10 Billion startups in the next five years. With so much of time and most importantly – increasing dollar inflow, Modi’s stint may just have taken us one step closer to becoming a superpower.

4 reasons why you should bust your a## in a start-up!

When working in a start-up, you’re not just a part of the company, you’re also building it. Your list of responsibilities never end and neither do your meetings. Your boss is never satisfied, even though you put in 3 Saturdays a month. Startups are all about… well, more.

Its been 6 months since I joined Credihealth, and it has been such an adventure! Our team is consistently growing and so am I in my work. There is just so much to go around. Here is a list of what it feels like working in a start-up.

1. It’s risky (and then some whisky)

Its not news that startups are all about risks and experiments, especially if you’re trying to incorporate something as new as a healthcare portal functional in more than one city in the first year of establishment. All this and more being done simultaneously in a country where a concept like this is completely new.

Every day is new, every day we experiment and move forward trying out new methods, old methods, anything that’ll work for us. Needless to say, at the end of the day, whisky is a good friend to get us through this chaotic journey.

2. Think, think, think.

The more ideas you have, the more valuable you are to the company.

The more you think, the more ideas you have, the more you share these with your boss, the more he is bound to value you. Of course the quality of these ideas must be ranging between very good and brilliant. This requires a lot of brainstorming- be it while taking a shower or meeting new people at a party.

The company is a baby, more like your baby and it needs a lot from you. Your time and also your brain.

3. Start-up = A lot of learning

Because you’re constantly coming up with new plans, using the hit-and-trial method, you end up learning a lot. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail, trying new things ends up teaching you more than a traditional company would.

4. Startups give you room to blossom

A traditional working environment ends up shaping you, but in the case of a start-up its the other way around. Because you’re shaping everything else in the company, you also end up shaping the working environment. The company grows around your work, letting you be more you.

Image source: Sean MacEntee/Flikr