From the startup world – June 23

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream project will be revamped soon.

A compilation of important news from the startup world:

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Modi’s dream project ‘Startup India’ to be revamped to woo more participants
Five months after its launch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government’s Startup India initiative is due for an overhaul to improve participation. The government recently held a review after fewer-than expected startups applied for recognition and only one made the final cut for the incentives that are available under the programme.
Subsequently, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) chalked out a strategy to upgrade the action plan and get more enterprises to take part, said a senior official. About 200 companies had applied for recognition, of which, 30 were shortlisted for consideration last month by the inter-ministerial board formed by DIPP. Only Hyderabad-based Cygni Energy was selected while most others failed to provide the required paperwork, officials said. In order to attract more startups, DIPP is designing a learning module to “educate the startups in areas, including incorporation of a company, business models said the person cited above. The government will examine all applications within a day and ask those that haven’t furnished the required documentation to provide these for counselling and training. Companies that want to avail of the tax and intellectual property rights-related benefits will have to wait for the approval of the inter-ministerial board.

Niksit’ delivers bad news to fund-starved Indian startups
“Why-o-why? That’s a big setback for Indian startup ecosystem,” Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s wailing tweet, succinctly sums up the reaction in India to the unexpected news of Nikesh Arora’s abrupt exit from SoftBank. SoftBank has been a prolific investor in Indian startups for nearly two years, and Arora’s exit couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune moment. The e-commerce–or broadly the consumer internet–drivers of the world’s fastest growing economy have been searching for a new investor with ability to write big cheques, of late. Bulge-bracket investors have shied away from placing fresh bets on India’s aggressively valued startups, some of which have been marked down already. Arora, riding on incredible media hype, played a big role in boosting Indian startup valuations when he struck back-to-back deals in 2014. Arora and Tiger Global’s Lee Fixel, the top shareholder in Flipkart, who has invested in about 25 startups, were fueling Indian unicorns (privately funded companies valued at $1 billion or more) with their investment binge.

India, Israel can greatly benefit from each other’s startup ecosystems: Chandrashekhar
Post the three-day trip to Israel conducted on May 29, the office at Nasscom paints a busy picture. The relatively short visit betrays the depth of discussions held as new partnerships were sought out and existing alliances were reinforced. With a key focus at security solutions, Internet of Things (IoT) and innovation, the visit by the 14-company strong Nasscom delegation holds much promise for the Indian business landscape in the coming years.
“There is a unique opportunity for Indian companies to partner with their Israeli counterparts to establish a mutually beneficial association,” says Nasscom, President, R Chandrashekhar. “We are looking at collaborative opportunities with innovative companies based out of Israel and possible partnerships that can scale up operations for companies on both sides,” he adds. Israel boasts of a strong startup ecosystem, facilitated by its unparalleled innovative climate and a unique cultural characteristic, which was has proliferated over the years with staunch government support. Its software industry is also extensive and integrates a broad spectrum of companies in the fields of IT security, data center and internet solutions, and includes firms ranging from early-stage startups to established companies.

Indian govt allows 100% FDI for online grocery startups
In a boost to retailers and grocery startups such as Bigbasket and Grofers, the Indian government on Monday allowed 100% FDI in food retail, including through e-commerce, provided such items are produced, processed or manufactured in the country. This will allow multi-brand retail giants such as Walmart to look at their food business here closely and perhaps even foray into B2C food retail. Currently, the US giant operates a B2B business here since FDI in multi-brand retail is not allowed. The US retailer has built a strong backend infrastructure in food. Similarly, the move will help Indian hyper-local grocery startups raise funds more easily. “The decision by the government to allow up to 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) through FIPB in marketing of food products produced or manufactured in India, including through e-commerce, is very progressive and will help in reducing wastage, helping farm diversification and encourage industry to produce locally within the country. This far-reaching reform will benefit farmers, give impetus to food processing industry and create vast employment opportunities. We will study the policy document when government finalises and issues it,” said a Walmart India spokesperson.

Hon Hai investing in only 4 start-ups in India: report
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has put money into only four start-ups in India since its announcement in August 2015 that it was planning to invest heavily in the South Asian country, according to the Economic Times of India. Citing sources in the investment banking sector, the report said that while Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, is keen to build a massive production base in India, its investments in only four new Indian firms showed that it was being prudent. Last August, Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou said the company would set up 10-12 production compounds in India by 2020 to build the country as one of the company’s global production hubs. Hon Hai has set a goal of investing in India in e-commerce start-ups, mobile Internet devices and renewable energy development, Gou said at the time. However, the Economic Times said Hon Hai seemed to have been moving slowly over the past year on that goal. The report said Hon Hai’s biggest start-up investment to date has been US$200 million in Snapdeal, one of the largest e-commerce operators in India.

These 7 Startups Are The Coolest Destinations For Job Seekers In India Says LinkedIn
The ranking is based on actions of 433 Mn members which includes job applications, engagement and new hire staying power. It also partnered with Censuswide Research to carry out an online survey of 6,266 workers between May 18 and May 23, 2016. Globally, Apple, Salesforce and Facebook are the top three attractors of talent. There are 12 Indian companies in this list. Flipkart was followed by Housing, Ola and Snapdeal, which grabbed the 9th, 10th and 11th position, respectively. Amazon secured 2nd position, surprisingly leaving behind Google, which remained at number 4. In the past month since the devaluation, the global restaurant discovery site has announced a partnership with Pepsi, a new algorithm for online reviews, and 750,000 food-delivery orders processed in May, up 30 percent month-on-month. There’s no telling what else is in store for that 99 percent.

Indian startups looking to be second time lucky at WSJDLive Global Startup Showcase
Entrepreneurs with startup ideas that can work across global markets have two more weeks to apply for the 2016 WSJDLive Global Startup Showcase, a direct hotline to reach out to renowned global investors and entrepreneurs. Applications will be accepted until Friday, 1 July 2016. Five startups from India have so far entered the race to present their ideas to top corporate leaders and investors at WSJDLive, which is in its third year now. The conference will be held on 24-26 October at Laguna Beach, California. The conference will bring together global CEOs, enterprising entrepreneurs and top investors to explore the most exciting tech opportunities emerging around the world. Online student magazine Stumagz, job portal and career advisory website My Jobs Hunt, video-medicine consultation platform Doctor Insta, education technology startup Callido Learning, and a concept-stage artificial intelligence and augmented reality product startup Cerebrum are the entries from India.

HP brings world’s thinnest laptop to India
Personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday unveiled the world’s thinnest 13-inch laptop, HP Spectre, in India at Rs 1,19,900. The HP Spectre is just 10.4mm thick. The record was earlier held by Apple’s MacBook Air, which measures 17.2mm at its thickest point and is priced at Rs 96,900 for the 256GB storage version. The HP laptop has also beaten the record of 12-inch MacBook, which has thickness of 13.2mm. The new laptop is even slimmer than Asua Zenfone Max smartphone, which stands at 10.6mm. The HP notebook has a 13.3-inch Full HD display and weighs just 1.1 kg. The MacBook Air, in comparison, weighs 1.35 kg. The laptop is configured with sixth generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. According to the company, the laptop houses a hybrid battery that lasts up to nine hours on a single charge. The 13-inch MacBook Air gives up to 12hours on a single charge.

Foxconn goes slow on startup funding in India
In August last year, Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn Technology Group, announced that the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturing company was in the final stages of investing in New Delhi-based refurbished goods seller GreenDust. The deal, estimated at $65-70 million ( Rs 430-460 crore), would have been the Taiwanese manufacturer’s second-largest investment in an Indian startup, next to its $200-million investment in online marketplace Snapdeal . But 10 months since, the GreenDust deal is yet to be closed.  The maker of iPhones for Apple has invested in a mere four startups here since announcing ambitious plans for India more than a year ago, adding to domestic funding woes. “It seems that investing in India’s startup ecosystem has slipped down Foxconn ‘s pecking order,” said an investment banker who had advised multiple startups in their negotiations with the Taiwanese firm. “(Foxconn) had met dozens of startups (in India) over the past 12 months and not much seems to have been done since then,” this person said, requesting anonymity.

The Entrepreneur Podcast interviews Asia’s entrepreneurs and chronicles their life stories in immersive audio episodes  
When Rajiv was introduced to the world of podcasts a few years back, most of the shows were hosted in the US and covered startups, entrepreneurs and founders from North America. Two years ago he started a podcast aggregation app OIDAR curating all the podcasts from Asia. “At that time there were just a handful. Today there are around 50 plus from India, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia,” says Rajiv. This felt like the perfect time to jump in the fray. The Entrepreneur Podcast went live with its debut show in the first week of January 2016. “Today we are 40 plus shows recorded with 30 on air!” says Rajiv. It surpassed 2000 downloads within two weeks of going live and was mentioned in the new and noteworthy section of ITunes in US, India, Singapore and Indonesia. 75 per cent of the show’s audience comes from India and the rest from South East Asia and USA.  Though the show is focused primarily on tech entrepreneurs, it makes exceptions for non tech individuals who have highly inspiring life stories. In fact Rajiv’s favourite interview to date has been with Nilam Sari from Indonesia who started with a pushcart and now runs the world’s largest kebab empire out of her country.

India: Early-stage startups scale down funding expectation
It’s not only investor appetite that has taken a turn of caution in the past few months, but entrepreneur expectations have been rationalised too, data from around 10,000 start-ups on deal-making platform LetsVenture shows. Start-ups at ideation, beta, and proof-of-concept (POC) stages (early-stage start-ups, essentially) in the consumer sector have been seeking a lower amount when raising funds this year, compared to the last, while those making revenues are doing the opposite, given the investor-interest in companies that would turn a profit quickly. The percentage of stake dilution that start-ups are offering has also come down in start-ups across the board.

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