From the startup world – May 24


A compilation of important news from the startup world: 


What Will Make Startup India Truly ‘Stand Up And Be Counted!
What a year 2016 is turning out to be from the viewpoint of India’s Startup ecosystem! The year got off to a ‘Big-Bang’ start with the Prime Minister outlining the Startup India Action Plan, indicative of the significance his government has ascribed to startups as job creators and growth stimulators. With angel and venture capital investments recording the highest ever jump to cross a new milestone in the previous year, 2016 was all set to be the year to usher in more ‘unicorns’ with access to a torrent of investor funds and to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship through government led initiatives like ‘Startup India’ and ‘Digital India’ with an objective to make the country the startup capital of the world. All the hoopla at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on 16th January notwithstanding, the four months that followed have been characterized by a fairly tepid Union Budget for startups in general and tech startups in particular; investors tightening their purse strings limiting the torrent of easy money to a trickle; celebrated unicorns being marked down in their valuations and news stories of ecommerce and foodtech startups either scaling down operations or serving pink slips to their employees en masse.

Fintech revolution in India: Tech-finance collaboration has fired up entrepreneurs
Technology is changing the way people transact and do banking operations. A slew of startups in the fintech space, backed by venture financing, are disrupting the financial services and banking industry. Many of these emerging companies are focused on building financial products, developing innovations that include peer-to-peer lending platforms and creating frictionless payment and trading solutions. According to a report “Indian Fin-tech Products—Innovation Driving Growth” by The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), India is quickly emerging as an fintech products hub with a presence of close to 400 companies in the fintech space which have received about $420 million investment in 2015.

Turning ideas into reality
In technology adoption space, a couple of trends are quite visible. First, technology companies are pushing for cloud adoption instead of on-premise deployment of a solution. Second, there is huge focus on a platform-based approach in which a technology firm provides platform-as-a-service. Recently, US-based National Instruments (NI), which operates in the measurement and automation space, and makes automated test equipment and virtual instrumentation software, launched its business incubator programme in India. The company also announced the expansion of its R&D centre here.

Early stage private equity investments take a hit, outlook bullish
Early stage private equity investments saw a sharp decline in the first four months of this year, but the outlook seems bullish as the government’s initiative for startups is expected to boost investment in this space, experts say. According to PwC, during January-April 2016, early stage PE investments saw a decline of 57 per cent in value terms and 25 per cent in volume terms. Experts attribute the dip in startup investments to a mix of global macroeconomic factors such as a growth slowdown in China and concerns over massive losses incurred by startups.

They are discussing H-1B; should you feel worried about it?
It’s important to note that the reason behind the Indian techies’ success was the liberal immigration policy of the US. It made it possible for hordes of graduates from India’s prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology to move to Silicon Valley and make a name for themselves. According to a 2014 study by Professor Vivek Wadhwa, the number of Indian-Americans in the US tech world appears to be at its peak, with as many as 15 percent of startups in Silicon Valley being founded by Indians. However, things are changing now. The American election has charged the atmosphere the world over. Many countries have reacted differently to the political rhetoric during the US election campaigns.

Kaun banega capitalist? All you need is just Rs 20,000 to startup
What makes a Venture Capitalist? Not loads of money, it seems. Just pony up as little as Rs 20,000 and there you go with the VC badge in a fledgling startup. But, first you need to have an annual gross income of Rs 10 lakh, as per Sebi’s draft norms on Crowdfunding. It is the latest fad in town and will likely change rules of investing. Until now, only accredited investors, meaning the mighty rich, donned the VC or angel investors tag. But thanks to crowdfunding, ordinary folk like you and I can invest not just to be a shareholder (which is what stock markets do), but also be an equity investor. Simply put, you can be one of the promoters even without having to set up a company yourself. For startups raising funds, it’s a great deal easier than stretching the cash bowl to an unwilling banker.

‘Gaming industry will accommodate 50k professionals’
A first-of-its-kind conference for the mobile gaming fraternity, PG Connects 2016 saw participation from developers, Indie superstars and global giants including Google, Samsung, Zynga, EA, Rovio, Microsoft; Chinese superstars NetEase&iDreamSky, AppStore hit makers KetchApp (Paris) &FlareGames, Venture Capitalists such as Accel Partners as well as Indian stalwarts – Robosoft, Junglee Games, Nazara and Reliance. In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s Umesh M Avvannavar, Reliance Entertainment Digital CEO Amit Khanduja explained the company’s future plans and trends in the Indian gaming industry.

Chatbots: hype or the next big thing?
There is a certain ‘wow factor’ when someone books a cab or orders a bouquet of flowers simply through a conversation. It’s a never-seen-before phenomenon where computing intelligence uses natural human language to deliver simplified consumer experiences. Chatbots have the advantage of enabling users to access business services while on chat platforms like Facebook Messenger and Telegram. What this could mean is that the search and discovery function may shift away from Google and apps, to chat platforms because of their pure simplicity and convenience.  This development truly has the potential to become the ‘next big thing’ when businesses invest sufficiently in this technology and when more chat platforms like Whatsapp join the party.  Hence, the hype around the announcements of Facebook and Microsoft in the last few weeks is justified.

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