Opportunities and Challenges for Startups in India

IMG_1276TRPC participated in the second edition of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) Startup Summit in Jaipur, on 22 January 2016, at the Hotel Clarks Amer. Co-organized and supported by Google, the first summit held in Jaipur will be followed by similar ones in Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad and Delhi. The audience of upwards of 100 consisted of young entrepreneurs of Internet and mobile start-ups. Veneeta Dixit, Public Policy, Google India gave the welcoming address, followed by Kunal Shah, Founder and CEO of FreeCharge and Chairman of IAMAI speaking by video conference from Bangalore.

On behalf of TRPC, Dr John Ure followed with a presentation of the key findings of the “Going Digital: The Status and Future Potential of Internet-Based Economies in Asia” report. He stressed the success factors behind start-ups like Zomato which has done particularly well in its pursuits of foreign markets, such as the ease of navigation, just three steps from inquiry to a restaurant booking, and the continual process of innovation and additional of new services. He also highlighted the challenges in starting up public community websites, such as Kanaja.in, their value in supporting local cultures and their need to embrace trends such as social media and the use of mobile apps. He concluded by stressing the importance of creating a business climate conducive to innovation.

During the Q&A, Dr Ure was asked to contrast the approaches of China and India. He pointed out the Chinese prioritization of infrastructure as important to generate universal access, and India’s strength in marketing, especially overseas. The main concern going forward in the present world economic climate was the sustainability of domestic demand which had been fuelled to a large extent by the growth of the middle classes. Start-ups based upon innovative ideas still needed to be strong in the business plans. Support for start-ups in this area was therefore important.

After the morning coffee and tea break the IAMAI meeting continued with speakers addressing the many aspects of start-up opportunities, strategies and scaling in the context of the India market.

Recommendations from the report for India include the following:

  • Strong commitment to Digital India is vital to ensure universal broadband access at affordable prices
  • Soft infrastructure of laws and regulations need to be put in place
  • A “net zero import” policy should be pursued by boosting exports
  • Business registration processes need to be sped up and business transactions costs reduced
  • Capacity building across the public sector is needed to transition to digital


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