National Startup Day Shines a Light on Industries: Exploring India's Progress, Government's Role, and Future Visions in Growth

National Startup Day Shines a Light on Industries: Exploring India's Progress, Government's Role, and Future Visions in Growth
National Startup Day Shines a Light on Industries

As the sun rises on January 16, the nation proudly observes National Startup Day, a testament to India's commitment to encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared this day to celebrate the vibrant spirit of startups, acknowledging them as the backbone of a 'New India.' Since then, the startup landscape in the country has witnessed significant growth, with businesses sprouting across the nation.

In 2016, the Indian government laid the foundation for this growth with the inception of the Startup India initiative. Today, India stands as the third-largest startup ecosystem globally, with over 1,12,718 DPIIT-recognized startups spread across 763 districts as of October 3, 2023. The nation not only ranks second in innovation quality but also excels in scientific publications and the quality of its universities among middle-income economies.

In this context, StartupTalky connected with experienced individuals who have navigated the changing landscape of India's startup ecosystem. In straightforward discussions, we explored their perspectives on India's progress, the significant role played by the Government of India in driving growth, and their forward-looking views on the future of their respective industries. Their words reflect the pulse of a dynamic and ever-evolving entrepreneurial India.

Fintech's Evolution
InsurTech's Transformative Journey
HR Industry's Evolution
Biotechnology's Growth
Tech and Electronics in India's Startup Landscape
Personal Care's Sustainable Growth
Fashioning Entrepreneurship in India

Fintech's Evolution

Mr. Tarun Nazare, Co-Founder & CEO of Neokred Technologies, sharing fintech sector insights said, “Since 2016, we have witnessed the ecosystem go from boom to bust and bounce back. India's startup landscape saw unicorns thrive, funding dip, and rebound. Now, the emphasis is on profitability with emerging sectors, promising resilient, innovative futures. Its advantages are that the Government is capitalistic, and focuses on the growth of all the sectors. Witnessed very active participation from RBI, regulator of Fintech. Expect mature decisions and good governance for yet-to-be-regulated sectors in the near future. We see promising activities from all the participants in all industries to make sure India's GDP crosses more than $7 trillion by 2030.”

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InsurTech's Transformative Journey

Kulin Shah, Co-founder and COO of Onsurity said, “Embarking on my entrepreneurship journey, witnessing the addition of over 68,000 startups, the space has undergone a transformative shift and evolved into leaders of product innovation. As the co-founder of an Insurtech, I’ve keenly observed the strategic initiatives that have propelled the rise of InsurTechs such as the regulatory framework, progressive policies, and initiatives. For example, with the introduction of the use and file process, insurers can introduce products to the market on filing with the regulator, thus avoiding a long waiting duration to get approvals. The introduction of regulatory sandboxes and streamlined licensing processes has further paved the way for growth.

Our industry has transcended from a selling approach to a seamless, digital realm, where transactions unfold effortlessly at the click of a button. Insurtech platforms are no longer just facilitators of claims but are comprehensive service providers, offering a diverse array of insurance options with a strong emphasis on convenience and paperless processes.

HR Industry's Evolution

Manish Panwar, Business Head, Vega HR, said, “India's startup ecosystem has surged, driven by a young, dynamic, and talented workforce as well as increased funding, and government initiatives like Startup India. These measures include simplified regulations, tax benefits, and financial support, creating a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. The aim is to foster economic growth, and job creation, and position India as a global startup hub.

“Cities like Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, etc. are tech hubs, hosting diverse startups from fintech to ed-tech. Global attention and investment highlight India's growing role in the global startup landscape.

Panwar further added, “The future for the HR industry looks promising driven by a combination of government support, the startup boom, and the need for innovative talent management strategies. At Vega HR, we are passionate about creating solutions for employee rewards & recognition as well as enabling digital equity and streamline the process of ESOP management effortlessly. As companies recognize the importance of aligning employee interests with organizational success, total rewards (short-term & long-term) are expected to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of India's corporate landscape, and we want to be at the forefront of steering this movement.

Biotechnology's Growth

Mr. Najeeb Bin Haneef, Founder and CEO of Zaara Biotech, shares his perspective on the success of his startup and the broader landscape of the biotechnology industry. Reflecting on the system around him, Mr. Haneef states, “The success of my startup does not depend on my knowledge or luck; it is solely because of the system around me that supports my dream.

He emphasizes the role of various support initiatives, events, and schemes introduced by the government that have been instrumental in the growth of Zaara Biotech. “The various schemes of the state and central government help us reach our products and services in domestic and international markets as easily as a student startup. From our inception, we have explored all privileges available to a student startup, allowing us to pitch and exhibit at various national and international events, with significant support from the state legacy, Kerala Startup Mission. 

We presented our first product at GITEX Global in the Dubai World Trade Center under the Startup Mission scheme. There is always a boom in the startup ecosystem, and the government plays a vital role in creating synergies with international trade and exports. Research stations such as ICAR-CIFT Cochin also enable support for startups like us to reach a broader audience by placing products in various central government sectors. They also recommend participation in various training sessions funded by ICAR,of said Haneef.

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EdTech's Evolution

Mr. Sumanth Prabhu, Co-founder & CEO of Ulipsu, shed light on the evolution of the EdTech industry in India. He said, “In 2014, the startup ecosystem was not this mature. There wasn’t much awareness about startups, funding, financial models, sales and marketing education, etc. Initially, it was a dream that merely existed but eventually, the startup ecosystem evolved. The startup knowledge, its concepts, the training and mentoring required can be found everywhere. The investing community has increased interest in startups today comparatively. Over the last decade, the government has made efforts to ensure that the startup ecosystem in India is thriving, and rightfully, it has matured today. With programs like the ‘Startup India Program’, different schemes have been available in different states all over India to foster the development of budding startups.

“Existing startup policies and schemes that were available for companies irrespective of the EdTech industry, has helped us a lot. The Karnataka Government conducts an annual competition where deserving startups are given recognition along with financial grants as high as 50 lakh rupees. Ulipsu was also one of the participating companies in 2018 that was granted 20 lakh rupees. Likewise, a lot of such support initiatives and events were introduced by the government to expand growth,the said Prabhu.

Highlighting the growth prospects of the ed-tech industry, Prabhu said, “Working in the ed-tech sector, the opportunities have increased drastically because of NEP implementation. We are aware about the future of education. Through NEP, there have been collaborations between the industry and academics. Much more awareness & preference is being given to skilling rather than rote learning. Multiple credit-based and entry-exit systems are helping children explore what they want to pursue. Learning outcomes are being influenced and catalyzed by AI. India, having the largest youth population in the world, is where education will show growth more rapidly than ever.

Tech and Electronics in India's Startup Landscape

Sandeep Kumar, Founder and CEO, Baatu Tech, highlighting his startup journey said, “In my journey through India's dynamic startup ecosystem, I've witnessed remarkable growth backed by substantial government support. India, now the world's third-largest startup hub, has seen a surge in total funding from 2015-2022, with 108 Unicorns valued at multiple billions as of March 2023.

“The government's initiatives, such as startup challenges, National Startup Awards, Incubators and Accelerators, Networking opportunities, and state rankings, contribute significantly to this success. Startups with sustainable business models and those innovating around artificial intelligence, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and deep tech are anticipated to progress well. However, some challenges persist, particularly in funding, revenue generation, and supportive infrastructure,said Kumar.

While discussing the way forward, Kumar emphasized, “The way forward necessitates pivotal roles for venture capitalists, angel investors, and the corporate sector. Policy measures, in alignment with the Digital India Initiative, are crucial. Bengaluru is a powerhouse in India's startup ecosystem, hosting a remarkable 1,783 women-led startups, outpacing Mumbai (1,480) and Delhi (1,195), as reported by the startup data platform Tracxn. As India aims to become a global tech player, decisive policy measures and sustained support are vital for continued success, significantly beyond traditional sectors.

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Personal Care's Sustainable Growth

Mr. Sanjeev Ingti, Director & Co-Founder of Eliea Wellness, sharing insights from the personal care industry, remarked, “During my journey, I've observed India's remarkable strides in ecosystem studies. The nation has fostered a robust scientific community, embracing interdisciplinary research to understand and preserve its diverse ecosystems. Collaborations, technological advancements, and environmental policies showcase India's commitment to sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. 

The Indian government has actively propelled the medicinal personal care industry's growth through policy initiatives, regulatory support, and incentives. Encouraging research and development, streamlining approvals, and fostering innovation have created a conducive environment for accelerated expansion, promoting health-centric products and contributing to the sector's positive development.

The future of India's personal care industry promises innovation driven by technology, sustainability, and wellness trends. With a surge in demand for clean and natural products, the industry is poised for eco-friendly advancements. E-commerce and personalized solutions will further redefine consumer experiences, shaping a dynamic and health-conscious landscape.”

Similarly, Mr. Lasakan Cholayil, Co-Founder of Sadhev, reflecting on the landscape of beauty and personal care startups, stated, “In my journey with Sadhev, I've seen firsthand the dynamic shift in India's startup landscape. There's a palpable energy, especially in our niche of organic beauty. It's not just about business growth; it’s about a cultural shift towards sustainable living. We're riding this wave, innovating and connecting with a community that values what we value.

The Government of India has been a catalyst for us. Initiatives like 'Make in India' haven’t just been slogans; they've opened doors. We've seen tangible support in promoting indigenous products, which has been a game-changer for brands like ours. It’s about preserving our heritage while scaling up.

Looking ahead, I see a horizon filled with opportunities. The trend is clear – there’s a growing demand for authentic, natural products. We're not just selling products; we're part of a larger movement towards sustainability. The market is ripe for innovation, and for startups like Sadhev, it's a chance to lead this change, both in India and globally.

Fashioning Entrepreneurship in India

Dhruv Toshniwala, Founder of The Pant Project, discussing India's startup ecosystem, said, “At The Pant Project, we've had the privilege of witnessing India's remarkable strides in the startup ecosystem throughout our journey. Over the years, we've observed a significant surge in entrepreneurial spirit, fostering a vibrant and dynamic landscape. The government's proactive measures, such as 'Startup India' and various policy reforms, have created a conducive environment for startups. These initiatives aim to simplify regulations, reduce bureaucratic hurdles, and provide financial incentives, fostering a more supportive ecosystem. Many startups in India are not only focused on profitability but also on creating positive social impact. This dual approach has led to the emergence of socially conscious businesses that strive to make a meaningful difference in society.

Highlighting the Government's role in accelerating growth in the fashion industry, Toshniwala said, “The Government's emphasis on skill development and education has contributed to a skilled workforce. This, in turn, has enhanced productivity and efficiency within the industry, aligning with the nation's broader economic goals. Investments in infrastructure, including logistics and transportation, have streamlined our supply chain operations. Government initiatives to promote international trade have opened up new avenues for our industry. Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements have facilitated smoother exports and imports, contributing to the overall growth of the sector. 

“The digital landscape is transforming the way consumers shop. E-commerce, social media, and technology-driven experiences are shaping consumer behaviour. The Pant Project is strategically investing in digital platforms to enhance our online presence and provide a seamless shopping experience. The fashion industry in India is evolving towards greater inclusivity and diversity,added Toshniwala.

In India's startup journey, different businesses are growing with new ideas. From finance to fashion, they show how innovation and help from the government make a strong future. This is the story of a changing and hopeful world of startups in India.

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