From beaches to Portuguese colonies — the old city charm of Goa is an obvious entry on every Indian tourist’s list. But not so obvious, is the ongoing trend of startups relocating to this southwestern state in order to escape the bustle of metro cities. Popular co-working space 91 Springboard too has shifted its headquarters to Goa.
According to Apoorv Sharma, CEO of Atal Incubation Centre, Goa Institute of Management,
“Startups like to relocate to Goa, lifestyle is here is very good, the environment here is very good, the challenge which is in other cities of attracting talent it is lesser in goa.”
He added that Goa provides a very low-cost operation as compared to bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
However, he noted connectivity as the major challenge in the state, both in terms of inter-state travel and internet speeds. Mangirish Salelkar, Goa Technology Association also said that internet connectivity is a major issue in the state, with cheapest internet broadband plans costing INR 8K-10K for six months.
The popular opinion about Goa’s ecosystem is that it is an emerging space and thus, the volume of startups is sparse in the state. To boost the state’s ecosystem, Goa Startup Policy was officially launched by Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, in April 2018. The state’s startup policy had aimed to make Goa an aspirational geographical and human resource base for startups.
The policy proposed to create a minimum of 100 successful startups in Goa in the next five years, targeting generations of employment for at least 5K Goans. In line with this objective, the government offers a range of benefits including –
- A one-time grant of INR 10 Lakh ($15,373) with a promise of the minimum viable product
- Reimbursement of up to 50% of the salary for any startup where local youth are hired, subject to a cap of INR 10K ($150.16) per recruit
- Reimbursement of 50% of R&D expenses, including salaries of PhD holders employed by startups for a period of two years, subject to a cap of INR 5 Lakh ($7,507.98) per annum.
Salelkar noted that because of the lack of startups in the state, government has to currently invest in creating awareness about entrepreneurship rather than simply providing assistance as they would do in metro cities where the number of startups are already present.
Prominent Startups In Goa Ecosystem
However, the early signs of innovation can be seen across the state including both rural and urban regions. Some of the interesting startups from the beach capital of India are:
Kallows: The healthtech startup was founded by Gajanan Nagarsekar in 2007. Kallows has built a flagship smart health monitor called MobMon which has the capability of streaming live diagnostic quality ECG, heart beat per minute and oxygen saturation (SpO2) to a phone or tablet.
Jobsoid: The HRtech company was founded by Yashvit N in 2013. Jobsoid is an online applicant tracking system (ATS) for businesses to streamline all recruitment processes from sourcing candidates to making the right hire. It optimises businesses recruitment time by automating the screening and shortlisting process.
Minkspay: Founded in 2017, Minkspay is a mobile/DTH recharge and utility bills payment platform for small retailers. The company claims to have served 5K retailers in Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Other services offered by Minkspay include seamless payment acceptance powered by UPI QR code, multiple value-added financial and micro banking services, and a progressive loyalty program for retailers to earn money with every transaction.
B:Live: Founded in 2018 by Samarth Kholkar and Sandeep Mukherjee, B:Live is a travel company offering electric bike tours across Goa. B:Live tours are driven by local and claims to give quintessential Goa experience to the tourists.
Goa’s Startup Enabler Ecosystem
Being an emerging startup ecosystem, Goa startups are largely supported by the existing incubators and coworking spaces in the region. Some of the active incubators in the region include Centre for Incubation and Business Acceleration (CIBA); Atal Innovation Centre, Goa Institute of Management; Goa Tech Association; and Prototyze Venture Studio.
Further, the state is also bustling with co-working spaces such as government-backed Ignite Innovation Hub, 91 Springboard and others. However, the investments in the state are said to to be quite damp with only a few industry groups such as Dempo and Salgaocar showing any activity, according to Sharma.