Live Blog: The Influencers & The Disruptors Converge At The Ecosystem Summit 2018

Live Blog: The Influencers & The Disruptors Converge At The Ecosystem Summit 2018


The Ecosystem Summit brings together the movers and shakers of the startup community under one roof

Hosted at the Hyatt, Delhi, the event will feature interactive sessions on funding, unicorns, technologies, and more

Stay tuned into the Inc42 website and Twitter channel for insights into India's complex and evolving startup scene

Thirty speakers, 250 delegates, an incisive agenda that aims to draw valuable insights into the state of the Indian startup ecosystem — all in one action-packed day.

Inc42 is proud to bring to you our flagship event — The Ecosystem Summit (TES). The first such summit of its scale in the Indian startup ecosystem, TES brings together some of the most influential CEOs, founders, investors, government representatives, and visionaries who will engage in daylong, curated panel discussions, deep-dive talks, and fireside chats to help decode India’s complex and rapidly growing startup landscape.

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TES is Inc42‘s effort to spark off conversations on the ins and outs of funding, the rise of unicorns in India, policy framework for innovation, the corporate-startup connect, and more, with a view to examine the current state of the ecosystem and read the signals of the future. And this is just the beginning of an engagement among ecosystem stakeholders that we intend to facilitate further in days to come.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu will grace the event, along with Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, and Secretary of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Ramesh Abhishek. Prabhu will launch Inc42‘s flagship report — The State Of The Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018. Inc42 will also unveil the 42Next – a list of 42 the most promising startups in India.

The Ecosystem Summit will provide an environment of inspiration and insights like no other. So, watch this space for live updates from the event, being hosted at Hyatt, Delhi.

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7:40 PM

Some startups are path-breaking not for the amount of funding they have raised or their market share. Inc42 has made a list of five startups which have made an impression on us for the creativity they have showed and the impact they can have on the society.

In July, Tesseract introduced what is being touted as the first made-in-India Artificial Reality (AR) headset — Holoboard, and works with smartphones. Users of AR headsets can see digital and virtual images in the real world around them.
Since its inception in 2015, Tesseract has launched three hardware and two software products in the MR, AR, and VR sectors — Methane, Holoboard, and Quark. The founder claims to have seven patents: one US, three international (130 countries), and three India patents.

Nirmai Solutions
facts, 95% of breast cancers are curable if detected early. Yet 76,000 women die in India alone and more than 700,000 globally, every year. This did not sit right with Dr. Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur, who setup Niramai in 2016. NIRAMAI stands for Non Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Learning. It is working on a non-invasive, radiation-free, painless and low-cost, breast cancer-screening solution.

Shared bicycles appear to be just the thing required to ease the congestion of polluting vehicles, especially in metropolitan cities. To solve this problem, InMobi’s co-founder Amit Gupta has launched Yulu – an IoT-enabled bike rental platform.

ION Energy

Based in Mumbai, ION Energy is an energy storage startup that is working to build a layer of infrastructure to enable faster adoption of high power electric vehicles in India. The company is in the business of high-performing batteries and electric vehicles.

ION Energy currently leverages deep proprietary technology that combines it strengthens in design, electromechanics and battery management systems and software.


Mumbai-headquartered P2P bike and car rental startup Drivezy was founded in April 2015 by Ashwarya Pratap Singh, Hemant Kumar Sah,Vasant Verma, Abhishek Mahajan, and Amit Sahu. Drivezy was selected for Google’sLaunchpad Accelerator program in November 2015 as well as for Y combinator’s summer batch of 2016.

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7:30 PM

While we at Inc42 work to build a more connected ecosystem at the community level, there are some startups which have shown extraordinary resourcefulness and overcome challenges on their way to success. As part of the event we are releasing a list called of these pioneers called The 42Next, to not only honour these pioneers but also learn from their example.

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7:20 PM

Inc42 presents a one-on-one chat between Vaibhav Vardhan and Divyank Turakhia, Founder, and Directi Group.

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6:51 PM

Amit Sharma announced that RDGlocal is all set to heat up the Indian social media and content landscape, committing $100 Mn to the content business.

With a strategy to build a content eco-system with different assets which can cross-leverage each other. The fund aims to make these content-specific investments over the next two years.

RDGlocal has already invested in ‘WeLike’ — a social media platform in India, which has content available in seven languages already.

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6:10 PM

India’s growth story is not just a country’s growth story but a global one. India’s startup ecosystem has been interacting and collaborating actively with the ecosystems of these countries and these synergies have contributed significantly to India’s economy. This discussion on the ‘India-Japan Connect’ is moderated by Rajesh Sawhney, Founder, GSF and Innerchef, will look at cross-border partnerships.

On the panel are Hiro Mashita, Director M&S Partners, Mayank Shiromani, VP, Recruit Holdings Hirokazu Nagano, President, KLab, Milojko Spajic, Founding Partner, Das Capital Takeshi Ebihara, Founding General Partner, Rebright Partners.

Milojko Spajic said that the collaborative atmosphere in India is unprecedented. This atmosphere creates a high barrier for businesses where only the best survive, he said.

Our focus in India will not be sector-wise, but in the type of stage of the startups, Spajic said.

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The Ecosystem Summit Trivia: In terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Japan comes second to only the US as an investor in India.

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5:50 PM

A valuable alternative to equity for startups, venture debt is increasingly gaining popularity with new companies which need to raise funds for growth.The concept of venture debt is evolving in the past three years, partly due to growing demands of startups which are looking beyond venture capital to finance their needs.

In a talk titled ‘Venture Debt For Emerging India’, Rahul Khanna of Trifecta Capital Advisors, one of the top venture debt funds in India, explores the nuances of venture debt and what kind of startups and investors should consider this form of financing.

Explaining the need for venture debt, Khanna said that raising equity is not a perfect science. “You may have raised $10 Mn but find a little later that you are $2 Mn short. Venture debt can help you fill the gap”

If Sachin and Binny had taken some venture debt early in their career, they would be atleast $100 Mn richer each, Khanna said referring to the Flipkart founders.

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5:30 PM

What are the investment trends that are really driving the startup ecosystem? Avendus investment firm co-head Karan Sharma is giving us a presentation comparing India’s investment scenario with other markets like China and SEA in an expert talk titled ‘The Trillion Dollar Indian Digital Opportunity’

One of the most prominent trend is that at a per-capita GDP of $2400, India is at an inflection point of its digital transformation, Sharma said .

The intricacies of India offer unique opportunities, Sharma concluded.

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4:40 PM

India’s Policy Architecture for Innovation

An entrepreneur, advisor, columnist, and a software developer — Sharad Sharma — is delivering a deep-dive presentation on startup policy architecture, its impact in society and economy, and plans for the next decade.

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4:20 PM

Indian startups have just started building connections with corporates. The topic of our current session is ‘The Corporate-Startup Connect’, and the aim is to get the views of corporates on the rise of startups.

This panel has Amit Shah, group president and head (marketing and corporate comm), Yes Bank; Digbijoy Shukla, head of startup ecosystem at AWS; and Gaurav Kanwal, South Asia head (SMB and channel sales), Adobe, and is being moderated by Murali Talasila, partner and innovation leader at PWC.

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3:40 PM

The Rise Of The Soonicorns

Founders of three startups — Ather Energy, UrbanClap, Cleartax — will decode the DNA of Indian soonicorns, the impact they have created, and what lies ahead. Pallav Kaushish, VP, Marketing, at Inc42, is moderating the panel.

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Talking about venturing into uncharted territory, UrbanClap’s Abhiraj Bahl, said that one can’t shy away from “heavy lifting” required in a startup. Whether it is fintech or logistics, founders have to focus on building a “full-stack experience”.

Ather Energy’s CEO Tarun Mehta weighed in with the example of his company, which had to change people’s perception about the benefits of using an electric scooter instead of an Activa, which is far more popular in India. “People are ready to pay 30%, 40% or even 50% more if you have value,” he said. “At Ather, we focused on the dash(board), touchscreen, and the experience of using the scooter and that has helped us a lot.”

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3:20 PM

This next session is called ‘The Community Builders’ and is about shedding light on the role of startup community builders, their participation, and also aimed at identifying gaps that need to be bridged. The session is being moderated by IVCA president Rajat Tandon, with panelists Abhishek Gupta from TLabs,  IAN co-founder Padmaja Ruparel, and T-Hub CEO Srinivas Kollipara.

“A lot of startups are being able to raise the first half-a-million or so but have trouble raising the next round of funding and that is the challenge for many startups,” Ruparel said.

Talking about picking the right investors, Abhishek Gupta joked: “Good humans attract angels!”

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3:00 PM

Startup India — The Road So Far

One of the keynote speakers for The Ecosystem Summit, DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek, is now giving a presentation on how the Startup India plan has helped in the growth of the Indian startup ecosystem in the last three years, the next steps, and beyond.

One of DIPP’s most important policy initiatives has been to fast-track patent applications, Abhishek said. This includes giving rebates in patent filing costs. Startups can now also self-certify themselves against laws, easing the compliance burden on them, he added.

Touching on the topic of easing regulations, Abhishek said the government has recognised that the investment landscape of the startup ecosystem is very different from traditional channels of funding. To address this new sector, the government has made 22 regulatory changes, including reducing the lock-in period for angel investors and increasing the limit for the maximum number of angel investors allowed in an angel fund, Abhishek said.

The DIPP secretary ended his presentation by encouraging all the founders and delegates present at TES to reconsider their preconceived notions about the government’s work, check government websites, and take advantage of the initiatives that are being rolled out for them.

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2:00 PM

Delegates having lunch at TES 2018


We are almost halfway through TES. After six sessions covering diverse topics such as VC funding, unicorns, and the shift towards Tier II and Tier III cities, the speakers and delegates have taken a break for lunch. But stay tuned because we will be back in no time with more live updates from The Ecosystem Summit.

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1:25 PM

After a fireside chat about the ecosystem between Inc42 CEO Vaibhav Vardhan and MakeMyTrip CEO Deep Kalra, which turned into a candid conversation on what it means to be an entrepreneur before and after the origin of the word “startup” and Kalra’s current take-home salary, we now have a panel called ‘The State & The Startups’.

For this session. we have Kerala electronics and IT secretary M Sivasankar talking to moderator Nakul Saxena, public policy director at the iSPIRT Foundation, on how the state government is engaging with startups.

“We have witnessed an unforeseen calamity recently, but that was the time we also came to know about many Kerala startups and their innovative services that are helping in rebuilding the state,” Sivasankar said.

Sivasankar also invited all the entrepreneurs, founders, and investors at the ecosystem conference to come join the party. “If you are not looking to Kerala, the loss is entirely yours,” he added.

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12:50 PM

Inc42 CEO Vaibhav Vardhan and MakeMyTrip CEO Deep Kalra at The Ecosystem Summit


Inc42 CEO Vaibhav Vardhan is now having a one-on-one chat with Deep Kalra, CEO of online travel aggregator MakeMyTrip.

Reflecting on MakeMyTrip’s journey in the last 18 years, Kalra said that one important thing that entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs need to keep in mind is not to rely on just a verbal agreement with investors.

“Two decades ago, the only quality that startup founders needed was stubbornness, even if people tell you that this is craziness,” Kalra said.

However, in the present time, as the customer becomes more confident about digital financial transactions, entrepreneurs face a completely different dilemma.

Elaborating on the topic, Kalra said that now there are so many companies chasing the same model. Then, why does one company stride ahead while others fall back or shut down? The difference comes down to execution, Kalra emphasised.

Execution eats strategy for breakfast

Drawing on the differences between the growth story of the Chinese and Indian startup ecosystems, Kalra said that the way the Chinese ecosystem is structured, big companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Xiaomi have spawned a slew of smaller startups. Also in China, the traditional economy invested heavily in these startups at an early stage, which is rarely the case in the Indian startup ecosystem.

“Will we have Indian companies in India owned by Indians, or will it be all international companies? Flipkart is the latest example. We need to think about it, seriously,” said Kalra.


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12:00 PM

The Ecosystem Summit is now in full swing with its second panel, ‘Bull & Bear Of India’s VC Investing’. The session is being moderated by 91Springboard co-founder Pranay Gupta, and has LightSpeed Venture partners Bejul Somaia and Sid Talwar, Avaana Capital founder Anjali Bansal, Ideaspring Capital managing director Arihant Patni, and Nexus Venture Partners co-founder Sandeep Singhal on the panel.

Indian startups are fast in adopting emerging technologies, which is not only solving unique problems but are also attracting both foreign and local venture capitalists to the Indian startup ecosystem.

Talking about scaling up and the relationship between startups and VCs, Bansal said that VC scalability depends on setting up formal systems and processes in place, along with developing the leadership qualities of the entrepreneur.

Somaia said that one of the biggest qualities of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to constantly make tradeoffs. For example, deciding between unit cost and scalability or speed and control.

Startups are never balanced, at least not the good ones, Somaia quipped.

Singhal said, “Today, you have role models for entrepreneurs to follow. So, now we see entrepreneurs who are more circumspect and knowledgeable.”

When the moderator asked the panelists which sector do they think the next Indian unicorn is going to come from, all the panelists said that they are bullish on the entire Indian ecosystem and the next big thing could be from any sector — be it logistics, education, or ecommerce.

Noting an interesting shift in the startup funding landscape, Talwar said that traditional companies and family offices are now investing in the ecosystem. Bansal jumped in to add that today there’s a new hybrid model where family offices are working along with VC funds to finance startups.

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11:47 AM

The Ecosystem Summit Trivia: Currently, there are 26 unicorns in India. The country has more than 39,000 operational startups — risen from 7,000 in 2008 to 38,000 in 2015 — of which 31 soonicorns have the potential to join the billion-dollar list.

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10:45 AM

The event has now moved on to its first panel for the day titled ‘How To Ride A Unicorn’.

Moderated by iSPIRT Foundation co-founder Sharad Sharma, the panel includes EKA Software CEO and founder Manav Garg, Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Blackbuck founder Rajesh Yabaji, and CEO Murugavel Janakiraman. The panel will focus on the factors responsible for the rise of India’s unicorns, and what more can be done to boost and foster this growth.

Murugavel Janakiraman said that one of the biggest challenges for upcoming startups is how to deal with disruptors. Giving the example of, he said one way around this problem is to connect your business with the culture of the market you are targeting.

Talking about bringing fintech to the trucking business, Yabaji said that fundamental innovation in building a digital platform around the core business very important.

Summarising the essence of the startup mindset, Sharma said:

“Entrepreneurship is about addressing a messy problem in a new way.”

Garg said that platform thinking has to start at an early stage of forming the business. This will change the way you build the company and survive shifts in the market.

Bikhchandani emphasised that going forward, Indian startups will face international “goliaths” like Amazon and Google earlier on in their growth cycle. He added that one doesn’t need a lot of funding to be successful — what one needs is innovation.

“Successful businesses are built on deep customer insights,” said Sanjeev Bikhchandani

Taking a question from the audience about one of the delegates about scaling a small business, the panelists said that its okay to run a small business as long as you ask yourself two important questions: One, is your business sustainable, and, two,  is it adding value to your customer?

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10:20 AM

Mohandas Pai at the Inc42 The Ecosystem Summit


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From being the CFO of Infosys to working with the government to improve the business ecosystem in India, TV Mohandas Pai has worn many hats in the private and public sphere. Today, he is addressing the audience at the ecosystem summit on the topic, ‘India 2025: The Indian startup ecosystem in 2025’. Pai, who is currently the chairman of private equity fund Aarin Capital, will look into the investment opportunities and startup challenges which will unfold as we grow as an ecosystem and country.

Talking about India’s growth story, Pai said that the only country that has outpaced India in terms of growth in the last 25 years is China and that is because when Mao Zedong came to power in China, he said, “Women hold up half of the heaven.” The disparity in education rates of women in India and China is one of the reasons that India’s growth has lagged, Pai said.

“We believe that by 2025 India will have 100,000 startups in the country,” TV Mohandas Pai said.

Pai also forecast that by 2025 India will have 100 unicorns.

Talking about India’s digital transformation, Pai said that in his opinion, India Stack is the greatest piece of software after Linux. In seven short years, it has gained 1.1 Bn registered users.

“We will go from a data poor to data rich nation in five years,” Pai added.

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10:15 AM

Pallav Kaushish, VP, Marketing, Inc42, is giving a talk on what went into making the 400-page flagship report — The State Of The Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018. The report takes a data-driven and comprehensive approach to analysing the startup ecosystem. While the report aims to drive strategic decision-making in governance, investments, growth, and other core pillars, it is also an indicator of things to come.

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10:10 AM

Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu is giving a keynote address on the need for ecosystems and startups to develop together. Underlining the importance of timing in the success of startups, Prabhu said that while ecosystems are important, startups will still have some challenges which they must face themselves.

“We will provide all types of support to startups, which they need, at the right time,” said Suresh Prabhu.

Prabhu also emphasised that startups can’t grow in isolation, they need links to corporates and economic growth in the society to flourish. He also said that one big initiative in this area is to promote ease of doing business policies not just at the national level but in every district. He ended his talk with wishing all entrepreneurs and startup players the best in their endeavours.

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9:50 AM

Minister Suresh Prabhu Releases Inc42’s 'The State of Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018' Report

Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation; Hiro Mashito, Director, M&S Partners; TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman of PE fund Aarin Capital; and Inc42 founders Vaibhav Vardhan and Pooja Sareen kickstarted The Ecosystem Summit with the launch of Inc42‘s flagship report — The State Of Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018.

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