With about 4,500 start-ups at various stages of growth, our country is already the third largest in the global start-up ecosystem.
With about 4,500 start-ups at various stages of growth, our country is already the third largest in the global start-up ecosystem. Almost four start-ups are born every day, and now we expect this number to grow even higher with the latest policy intervention. Stories of professionals leaving well-paid jobs and starting-up have become so common that it does not raise eyebrows any more.
Disruption in almost every sphere of life has been taken up as a challenge by young promoters. Incidentally, their unpleasant personal experiences have also led to some of these ideas to shape up. It is extremely heartening to note that the government has finally realised that start-ups can add tremendous value to our nation. This value-addition can be in the form of contribution to the GDP, providing direct and indirect employment, solving everyday problems cost-effectively and innovatively, and attracting global interest and finances.
One of the beneficiaries of this phenomenon has been the education sector, which, unfortunately, has failed to attract and retain the attention of our policy-makers since Independence. A number of extremely interesting start-ups have taken fore by addressing the fundamental issues of our system, including quality, accessibility, affordability and equity. Primary education, test preparation and vocational training markets have witnessed the maximum action.
Use of technology has flipped our classrooms, social learning is making knowledge- and experience-sharing seamless, and virtual classrooms, online courses, digital libraries and up-skilling are some of the recent examples of impact made by start-ups. The high penetration of mobile phones has also contributed to the increased acceptance of the above solutions. One needs to just pick up his phone to learn how to speak English or view a lecture delivered in an IIT or learn in real-time from mentors and peers located in different parts of the world.
With an estimated market size in excess of $150 billion, the education sector possibly presents the biggest and complex opportunity for private and social entrepreneurs.
The challenge lies in providing effective solutions tailored to the requirements of our students rather than searching for problems after developing a product in-house. These are still early days for start-ups in this sector, but it seems extremely likely that the rise of a superstar is just round the corner.
In order to realise the above potential, it is pertinent for all things to fall into place.
The action plan announced by the government needs to be meticulously implemented, entrepreneurs need to portray higher sense of responsibility for ensuring business continuation as they are now eligible for tax breaks, investors should back ideas which may have higher social impact initially rather than ‘profitable’ business impact … let’s #startupindia.
Key incentives announced or Start-ups
Income Tax holiday for 3 years for entities set up after April 1, 2016
Tax exemption on capital gains subject to fulfillment of certain criteria
Hassle free registration through Mobile App
Easy exit through the proposed Bankruptcy code
80% rebate on patent applications
The author is director, Deloitte in India