“There’s no problem with starting small. The bigger problem is remaining small.” ― Constance Chuks Friday
2015 has been a momentous year for the Indian startup ecosystem. No, I am not referring just to the huge amount of funding that was pumped in Indian startups. What I am referring to is the fact that now India is one amongst the first five largest startup communities in the world with the number of startups crossing 4,200, a growth of 40%, by the end of 2015. According to the Nasscom Startup Ecosystem Report 2015 titled ‘Startup India – Momentous Rise of the Indian Startup Ecosystem’– in terms of providing a conducive ecosystem for the startups to thrive, India has moved up to third position and has emerged the fastest growing base of startups worldwide.
This is further expected to receive a boost with the PM’s ‘Startup India, Stand up India’ initiative, specific details of which were unveiled in an event on January 16 at Vigyan Bhawan. No wonder, given the slew of measures being rolled out to bolster the ecosystem, it is changing fast. As per a report by Microsoft Ventures, the number of startups is expected to zoom from 3,100 in 2014 to an expected 11,500 startups by 2020.
As Indian startups continue to gain traction at home, it is but natural to ponder how many of them are also equipped to gain traction outside India? Is Indian ecosystem producing such startups which could make products suited also to Western audience? If startups are tasting success at home, can that same success be replicated outside? If yes, then in what way and if not, what is that which is stopping them from doing outside? Why is that world class enterprise products and platforms originating from India are still in low supply? Or are there outliers who are bucking this trend and slowly gaining traction outside?
To understand the opportunity and the challenges better, we spoke with Ravi Narayan, Director, Microsoft Ventures and couple of startups i.e. Appointy, SignEasy, Table Grabber, WebEngage, Helpshift, Freshdesk and Wingify which are among those few who have been gaining traction and customers outside of India. Through these conversations, it was revealed that there is a huge opportunity in markets outside India as favourable policies, untapped markets, and a quality conscious audience more comfortable with technology, favour quick growth of particularly SaaS-based startups.
Ravi Narayan, Director, Microsoft Ventures concurs that Indian SaaS companies have a unique opportunity to encash, made possible because of their cloud based offerings. Says Ravi, “We have a unique opportunity as we can go to global markets without even establishing a presence there. The Saas model companies are extremely well suited to leverage this as they can put their products on cloud and iterate quickly with the initial set of customers.”