The popular English saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and the business leaders and entrepreneurs have had to prove this maxim multiple times over the past few months in order to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and its widespread impact. The ramifications of the pandemic were felt in markets around the globe and India is no exception. But thanks to some ingenuity, tweaks for cost efficiency and pivots, Indian startups have somehow emerged out with a clearer focus for the future, innovative solutions and models.
Homegrown startups have not only come up with ways to help India fight the pandemic but are also building solutions to cater to new categories and demand for the post-Covid market, be it in edtech, healthtech, fintech, or the consumer goods and products space. While the startup ecosystem will see some ramifications from the overall GDP slowdown, there is also a huge potential to be tapped as new consumers and users come online.
As many have said over the years, there are many different markets within India. The first 10 years of the 21st century were all about Tier 1 or India 1— the upwardly mobile urban set with an estimated 100 Mn population, which represents just about 6% of the population in the country.
India’s age of startups began in 2010 to first tap this market and today continues to build on this base, but from 2016 onwards, we have seen the rise of Tier 2 and 3 markets or India 2 and India 3. India is today home to the world’s largest working population thanks to these two segments — fancifully referred to as the Next Billion.
India is home to 36 startups attaining unicorn status with a combined valuation of nearly $120 Bn, with Unacademy being the latest, and nearly all of them are now focussing on the mass of customers — end consumers or businesses — in India 2 and 3.
The Dialogue By Inc42 And Microsoft
In a bid to decode the next billion opportunities and enable startups to build the next wave of successful businesses, Inc42 in association with Microsoft will be hosting four-part video series of — ‘The Dialogue’ focussed on sectors, namely, agritech, healthtech, fintech, and horizontal SaaS.
Through this partnership, we will not only cover the opportunities and challenges in the current market, but also the role of technology in managing operations in a crisis and the fundraising climate. An analysis by Inc42 Plus revealed that only 20% of the total startups in India are based out of Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. The total funding in the period of 2014-Q1 2019 for Tier 2 startups was $1.3 Bn out of the $48.7 Bn raised by Indian startups combined.
How can this be changed in the future? The Dialogue will seek to find the answer through the shared experience of startup ecosystem stalwarts and experts. The primary objectives will be to discover:
- The trends and opportunities across sectors in the current market
- How startups are optimising their operations to target “The Next Billion”
- The role of technology and its implications in scaling-up
- The macroeconomic landscape and changing business needs
Moderated by Inc42 cofounder and CEO Vaibhav Vardhan, the Dialogue is bringing Quadria Capital director Rahul Agarwal, 1mg cofounder and CEO Gaurav Agarwal, neobanking startup Open cofounder Deena Jacob and founding partner of 3one4 Capital, Siddarth Pai.
Additionally, it will also host names such as the director of startup ecosystem in Microsoft India, Sangeeta Bavi, cofounder and managing partner of Blume Ventures, Sanjay Nath, the chief operating officer, Microsoft India, Rajiv Sodhi, Rohini Srivathsa, the national technology officer of Microsoft India, and Vijayant Rai, country head, banking and finance vertical, Microsoft India, amongst others to share insights.
India’s Technology Moment
The pandemic has forced everyone to rethink the way business is done. Even the biggest tech companies have had to shift their lenses and look at a new way of working with SMBs and startups. It was not only about helping these critical economic contributors survive, but also thrive and that’s only possible by opening up channels of dialogue, new products, guidance through mentorship as well as capital.
“Microsoft is committed to helping startups build and scale their companies, by leveraging its trusted cloud platform, deep technical expertise, mentorship, enterprise sales connects, support for go-to-market activities across the world and access to its entire partner ecosystem,” said Bavi.
The Dialogue is just another aspect as Microsoft looks to continue its work with startups through Inc42, which brings years of experience as an authority on Indian startups.