Tech giants multiplying opportunities for Indian start-ups

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India has long been ruled by giant enterprises, both by homegrown and foreign firms, but this ‘time of transformation’ is surpassing the conventions and creating new story lines for Indian companies, especially in the technology and related industries. The new theories of technology and business are being led by innovations accomplished by freshly emerging firms in India. These young structures have potential as well as enthusiasm to innovate for the next-gen solutions and led a revolution. And, now the strength of Indian start-ups is being recognized by the global giant organizations, which are coming forward to provide a platform and resources, along with guidance to emerging Indian firms to help them boost their growth, while the major companies make a way for innovations in their portfolio via start-ups.

This is a win-win situation both for established firms as well as emerging firms, to achieve which, some of the major companies have already taken a step ahead, while many others are planning to walk towards the same zone with their own strategies. The internet giant Google is one of them, which is taking an unconventional move in India with bringing its largely successful ‘Start-up Mentorship Program’ to the country. The company has already identified ten start-ups which will be the part of the program. Called as ‘Google Launchpad’ is a five day program scheduled for November 3 to 7 in Bangalore. It will combine various senior Google officials for mentoring start-ups around technology, strategy, product, user interface, marketing and user experience. This event will be concluded with a demo-day, where start-ups will make pitches to investors and VCs. There are about 25 start-ups that are going to be a part of it. And, those already chosen are CoSight that help in making sales executives more efficient, iReff

Technologies that help finding the best prepaid mobile recharge plan, and Smart Pocket that looks after all your loyalty cards on the phone. These three firms are also included in Nasscom’s 10,000 start-up programme.

“Launchpad is a comprehensive mentorship programme for helping start-ups grow. By next year, we want to do the same every quarter, and a year ahead of that, we wish to do this every month,” said Sunil Rao, country head for strat-up programme at Google India.

Apart from Google, the Indian IT major Wipro is also planning to set up a corporate venture wing that will be spearheaded by Rishad Premji, with an initial investment of $100 million that is Rs 600 crore in start-ups to fill-up the gap of the innovation strand in the company. The first-of-its-kind venture wing by the Indian outsourcing firm underscores the Wipro’s recognition to the threats faced by the traditional IT firms from start-ups working n disruptive technologies, combining data analytics and machine to machine learning. There are other larger tech firms also like Cisco, Intel and Dell, which have dedicated corporate ventures to invest in start-ups and maturing ideas.

“Soon you’ll learn about this corporate venture fund that the Wipro will be beginning,” said a source. Wipro will be investing in between $80 to $100 for venture funding in the first year. “The $100 million amount is for the first year, and this will be growing. There will be more that will come out of it,” said an executive.

Furthermore, the Indian major Reliance Industries is planning to associate with tech giant Microsoft with an aim to nurture start-ups with mentorship, technology and funds. And, they are planning to do it ‘on a scale never done before’, according to a person aware of the development. The chairman Mukesh Ambani (RIL) is very keen to refresh the entrepreneurial spirit of the company and engage fully with India’s speedily evolving ecosystem, said the source. The country’s largest organization with strong wings in retail, petroleum and telecom, is now keen to focus on technology and start-ups that are spawning billion dollar businesses in the country.

Reliance has plans to operate via Gennext Ventures, which is an early state venture capital firm founded in 2010. The corporate VC wing has invested in two companies combining Covascis Technoloiges and Videonetics Technologies so far. What will be the exact nature of partnerships is not known yet, but the source cited above shared with certainty that the start-ups, once recognized, will be funded via RIL and there will be unlimited investments at the seed stage for companies.

Besides, the two leading technology majors, Microsoft and Intel are backing a Bangalore-based start-up with technology inputs. The Indian start-up is developing a touch-featured computing devices, a form of ultra books which will be released later this year. The young firm Notion Ink built India’s first tablet computer ‘Adam’. And for its return to the personal computing market, it’s greatly supported by the two giants within strategic partnerships. “It’s a huge inflection point for us,” said Rohan Shravan, 28, who is the founder of Notion Ink and launched Adam even five months earlier than Apple’s first version of iPad in April 2010. However, Adam couldn’t match the wide acceptance of iPad and fell due to lack of risk capital to expand business. This time, Shravan is hoping to get the right hold by working with Intel and Microsoft. Notion Ink will incorporate Intel chips coupled with Microsoft software for its next range of ultrabooks. “We’re hoping to drive through their sales and distribution network,” said Shravan, who is a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur.

Above and beyond, the national association Nasscom that represents $118 billion Indian IT industry has launched a registry for building a repository of tech start-ups in the country around web, mobile, eCommerce and marketplace. This way, it will build a virtual platform for investors, media, enterprise and government as well. “India is growing as a hotbed of technology start-ups and hence, our 10,000 start-up programme will collaborate with stakeholders to support the country grow to become an innovation hub,” said R Chandrashekar, president of Nasscom.

As a one-stop platform for stakeholders, this registry is going to be a national database of Indian start-ups and will recognize the areas around operations by providing the opportunity for engaging with investors, media, giant enterprises and state-run government organizations. The national association has also announced the third phase of this programme, which in the last 12 months during its first two phased attracted about 7,000 applications. From these applications, 529 have been shortlisted and 125 have been benefitted with funding, mentoring, acceleration, enterprise connects, co-working space and offered opportunities. “We are hoping that the third phase will bring up more innovative start-ups with great products & solutions that can impact not only on the business, but also on the global citizens,” said Chandrashekar of Nasscom.

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