Indian Start-ups & the Digital Age


India has been the focus of International news for some time now for her voracious appetite for growth and the new reports from various studies have been startling. She will soon have the world’s largest Smartphone user growth rate and will soon surpass U.S. in the number of total Smartphone users. The Government of India has already begun to roll out massive investment programs which aim to bring internet to everyone in the country, representing one-fifth of all humanity. Furthermore, some time back, International News organization, BBC launched an ‘India-focused’ page and has since then continued to invest in the country with new programming, local language and digital news content. The list is unending and all this only goes on to show India’s phenomenal rise to a Digital giant that it is today.

This digital revolution in India has been ushered in by a wave of entrepreneurship which has now hit everyone from your local grocer to established businessmen and thought leaders. More than 800 start-ups are created annually in India, that is also the world’s third largest and fastest growing country for these budding companies. According to a report, these Indian start-ups that are building global solutions, primarily digital solutions, are well-positioned to address the entire Asian market—an opportunity to expand beyond the US and Europe. The digital medium is now increasingly being used by these Start-ups. India’s population is moving more towards using e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, mobile apps and the Internet, thereby creating demand, need and space for more digital products, adding that these start-ups focus on consumer Internet, big data and analytics & communication. Today’s talent wants to work for organizations with an innovative outlook and our Startups are giving them just that. Digital innovation is giving today’s Start-ups the competitive advantage that is required to sustain. The synthesis of Start-ups in India with the Digital platform has provided us with smarter insights and created strategies that have redefined businesses. Then be it digital payment companies like Mobikwik and Paytm or an Online Food Ordering tool like Foodpanda. These Start-ups not only innovate opportunities for themselves but also for small sellers who would otherwise go unnoticed. It has helped build partnerships that inspire awe. These new-age entrepreneurs could very well be what Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg was to America. The technology sector has been the biggest platform for Indians even in the past. Companies like TCS and Infosys have put us there before. There are more Indian CEOs than any other nationality after Americans in S&P 500 companies, according to a study by Egon Zehnder. Rajeev Suri, President and CEO of Nokia, Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of Sandisk Corporation, Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft and the more recent Sundar Pichai who has been appointed CEO of Google have all contributed greatly to put us there. And now, following on their footsteps and revolutionizing the digital arena are the Startups who have established a whole new bunch of marketplace entrepreneurs who have introduced concepts from scratch and have worked their way up. Even relatively older Companies like Accenture and Microsoft are among those corporates that have built digitally-savvy, innovation-driven brands with the help of their Start-up programmes. Because they realise that nobody wants to work for a Dinosaur. Betting big on the Digital India initiative, Intel has joined the Central government to launch an initiative to encourage Startups with a total grant of Rs 1.5 crores. The initiative called the “Innovate for Digital India Challenge” is jointly being organised and funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) and Intel. Around 20 ideas would be selected from across the country and will be mentored for 12 weeks at the College of Engineering, Pune under the aegis of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Nasscom forecasts that if the pace at which the industry is augmenting continues, the country will serve as a home to more than 11,500 tech/digital Start-ups by the end of 2020. Start-ups have also been tying up with each other in a service and support network where they mutually benefit from each other, accelerating growth and generating higher revenues in the process. They also seek some SEO gains from these alliances. In some other cases there is more of a symbiotic relationship between the parties.

Another very important aspect of Digital Innovation in India has been its foray into Communication and Social Media. With Indian users breaking through the 100 million mark, second only to the US in terms of total users in Facebook, it has turned out to be a very powerful tool for both individuals and businesses. It has become an entrepreneur’s best friend and it has become imperative for all Startups to have a social media presence. With the use of social media, companies can reach out to a greater number of people in lesser time. With some investment of effort in social media management consistently, platforms like Facebook and Twitter help businesses establish a relationship with their customers. Initially running on a shoestring budget, the free marketing tools offered by these social media platforms provides a huge boost to these Start-ups increasing their customer base manifolds and creating awareness.

Furthermore, the Digital India campaign by the Government is truly an ambitious project. As a part of its huge agenda, it will help at least 10,000 Start-ups as more and more people in this country are connected to the internet. This campaign will be instrumental in creating new job opportunities in the near future and it is a boon for the booming e-commerce space.

With ‘starting your own business’ becoming much more accepted in the industry, and a proliferation of ideas due to increased access to education, the signs are very positive for India. It still has many problems to overcome and though the challenges will change over the next decade, I am quite certain that the new generation will be able to rise up to them.


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About Thinking Aloud

“Thinking Aloud” reflects the emerging trends and varied outlook of the rapidly evolving internet and communication sector. An IAMAI publication, this is a part of the market education initiative of the association.

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