Goldilocks period for Indian start-ups (published for Linkedin)


In the last 5 months, I have attended multiple conferences and talks/sessions held by The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) – a trade association of Indian Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing industry, TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), and 91spingboards – coworking hub for startups. I have attended meet-ups with Satya Nadella – CEO, Microsoft Corp, Sundar Pichai – SVP, Google, and various angels and VCs. The fact that top executives from tech giants, including those of Amazon and Facebook, have been visiting India must mean

Meeting with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and investors make me hopelessly optimistic when it comes to India’s technology entrepreneurship ecosystem. I am especially impressed by 10,000 Start-ups – a NASSCOM initiative that aims to enable as many start-ups in India by 2023.

Initially I thought that the NASSCOM is targeting too low. May be they are following the ‘underpromise-overdeliver’ mantra. Looking at the entrepreneurial drive and activity, I felt that NASSCOM can dream big. To bridge the dichotomy between what NASSCOM ‘should’ project and what it is projecting, I looked through their website, reviewed media articles and reports on the 10,000 Start-ups initiative, and opened an ongoing dialogue with people at NASSCOM. The findings were revealing.

There are presently 3,100 software product startups across India. NASSCOM projects net-new startups launched per year. There were 800 net-new additions in the 12 month period.

“Only 800?!” Well, NASSCOM defines startups as a properly formed company, comprising full-time founders pursuing a software product opportunity but regardless of funding type or stage. They’ve chosen to remain narrow on the scope rather than adopt a liberal definition (including, but not limited to, student ventures, one-man shops, etc.) to boost the numbers higher. I appreciate it.

They estimate growth of the aggregate count to reach over 11,500 software product startups by 2020 (from 3,100 in 2014), with net-new 2,000 being added per year in 2020. It represents a 250% growth, i.e., more than 7400 net-new product companies added to the ecosystem between now and 2020. The projections have focussed exclusively on ventures whose offerings involved the creation of software IP as a core element of their value-add activities.

These are exciting times to start-up in India, and with such trade associations as NASSCOM working toward building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, ACHCHE DIN don’t seem too far. Let’s also have hundred product companies from India valued at more than $1billion by 2020.

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