How ‘Nasscom 10,000 startups’ initiative is scripting success stories in India

By: | Updated: June 15, 2015 10:17 AM

Nasscom, which is spearheading the ‘10,000 startups’ initiative, assists young entrepreneurs in India by bringing all the stakeholders together and by bridging the knowledge gap that exists within the startup ecosystem

RidingoRidingo, a Bengaluru-based peer-to-peer car-pooling company was one among the first batch of startups that stemmed out of the ‘Nasscom 10,000 startups’ initiative started in 2013.

In a city that has a human population of 1.1 crore, for every two person, there is one vehicle in Bengaluru. Traffic woes are a never ending issue here. Being victims of getting stuck in traffic themselves, two young minds got
together to find a solution by designing an online platform where car owners and commuters can share a ride, benefitting both, and thereby reducing the vehicular traffic on road.

Ridingo, a Bengaluru-based peer-to-peer car-pooling company was one among the first batch of startups that stemmed out of the ‘Nasscom 10,000 startups’ initiative started in 2013. In less than two-years, the company was
acquired by a leading urban mobility solutions provider, Carzonrent India.

This is just one of the success stories of the IT industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) ‘10, 000 startups’ initiative, which started two years ago with an ambitious plan of helping
10,000 startups in the country over the next 10 years. The objective was to foster entrepreneurship and build entrepreneurial capabilities.  Another successful startup Bookpad, specialising in document viewing tools, was acquired by Yahoo last year, after it sprouted roots under the 10,000 startups initiative.

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Under this programme, Nasscom brings together key stakeholders of the ecosystem including startup incubators, accelerators, angel investors, venture capitalists, startup support groups, mentors and industry experts. It also organises and supports workshops, meetups and hackathon events at various places across the country.

“It’s not about the money, or the facility, it is the peer-group that we encountered at Nasscom Warehouse which gave us a push. Nasscom provided a holistic working environment where people with tremendous knowledge, experience and ideas, interact and share business perspectives,” says Vardhan Koshal, co-founder of Ridingo.

A study report by Nasscom and Zinnov, a consulting firm, suggests that the Indian startups are witnessing increased traction globally in areas such Internet of Things, augmented reality, smart hardware, business intelligence and more. It is estimated that by 2020, there will about 11,500 tech start-ups in India generating around 3.5 lakh jobs.

“Transformation is happening faster than we imagined. We have to think about the new world of innovation. Software enabled technology startups will see the rise. Even the e-commerce industry which is now in the limelight was basically built on data sciences, cloud platform mobile apps and on-demand services. That’s the disruption we have seen and that needs to be captured well,” says Ravi Gururaj, chairman, Nasscom Product Council.

Post its launch in 2013, the initiative, which is in the fourth phase of shortlisting applications, has received over 9000 applications from across the country and about 800 tech startups have been shortlisted. Of these, 40 have reached the funding stage and expanding operations. Though the number of applicants reduced with each phase due to tightening of entry rules, Nasscom officials say the quality of applicantions have improved. From the time a startup makes the business pitch, it takes about 3-6 months to reach the funding stage in India. However, it is much faster in other countries like Singapore, Netherlands and US, where, it could take not less than a month, says Rajat Tandon, senior director, Nasscom 10,000 Startups.

The challenges are many. It’s not a easy ride for the startups as well as the industry body. “What the Indian startups lack today is- though they understand the technology, the UI/UX (user interface/user experience) is a miss. In terms of getting customers, holding on to the customers, analysing the customer behaviour are some of the areas where they struggle. That’s where we try to pitch-in and help,” says Tandon. “Today, about 50% of the startups here are bootstrapped. They struggle without mentorship and business connect. In a way, it is bad. We should reach a phase where it should be like, ‘give them the money and get them going’,” he adds.

To bridge this knowlege gap, Nasscom plans to start a Startup School, a one-stop-learning centre for the entrepreneurs in the country, with structured programmes, archives of business models, and audio-video library involving speeches of successful business tycoons.

For the ecosystem to be built in a robust manner, the industry body cannot completely go without the support of government. In his budget speech in 2014-15, Arun Jaitley announced setting up of a Rs 10,000 crore fund to boost capital flow to startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, nothing much has progressed on this front.

Drawing a comparison with other countries on encouraging the startup ecosystem, Gururaj says, “Silicon Valley (San
Francisco Bay area) does it by sheer weight of its historical track record and its critical mass, but Singapore is doing through policy initiatives, incentives of various kinds and marketing; by building good infrastructure, keeping the regulations minimum and funding and co-funding certain startups. We need more on those lines, and also tax
incentives for the investors which could boost the startups ecosystem.”

STARTUP INITIATIVES

* Startup Warehouses: Providing a well-connected, plug-and-play co-working space for the first six months of their operations on a per-seater basis for selected startups. The first Startup warehouse was setup in Bengaluru with the help of Karnataka government. Nasscom plans to extend this in various state capitals and in Tier II cities. It has one in Kolkata, soon to be launched in Navi Mumbai, Pune and Chennai.

* Hackathons: Hosting unique online coding event which will encourage developers to build compelling applications for complex issues. It recently organised a hackathon event in collaboration with UIDAI, attracting more than 5,000 developers who built applications using Aadhaar APIs. It had also held a 36 hour hack aimed at building mobile healthcare solutions for rural India together with The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

* Innotrek: Through this initiative, selected tech start-ups are given a chance to go to Silicon Valley, get access to global VCs and connect with some of the most renowned tech giants.

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