2014 has been the most exciting year for India's consumer technology business. I have not seen this kind of euphoria since Internet came to India. Finally that elusive 100 million user mark got breached. Some even say we already have more than 200Mn people online.
Now that we have the momentum of decreasing smartphone prices and mobile operators taking mobile internet seriously, It won't be long before we have half a billion active internet users in India.
Here I am picking 10 key trends and things to watch out for:
Billion dollar cheque: Kudos to Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal for breaking the ceiling of the amount that can be raised by any Indian company in a year. Amazon fashionably matched it by double next day. An India startup raising such large money is a milestone for all us, and sets the benchmark for future funding.
Rise and Rise of eCommerce: Whether buying a diaper or booking a taxi, more Indians transacted via their mobile or desktop. Online commerce finally has reached a tipping point and there is no coming back. Expect many takes on this. Big ecommerce players becoming bigger. Newer players will be smarter, with new business models: local commerce, on-demand commerce, mobile messaging based commerce.
Raising $100 million is the new norm: There is serious large money available for potentially big businesses. Indian businesses (tech or non tech) had problem of access to large capital, now that has changed. There are hundreds of people who are ready to give large amounts of money for your bold audacious plan. I expect this trend to keep growing.
Indian Unicorns: One thing is sure that India will have tens of billion dollar tech companies. Only two questions are left to be answered: Firstly, how many billion dollar companies will be created in India? Secondly, will there be $100-billion tech companies from India?
Apps are hot: It gave birth to the growth hacker, and led to religious fights over which OS you develop for first. India is an Android country and your Android app rating is new Oscar award. Everyone talked about their big mobile plans, but only a few have understood and done it right. The battle will be fierce this year.
1 Crore Salary Club: Adding ESOPs and cash, many more people are now in 1 Crore+ annual benefit club. Talent will become new currency, everyone wants tonnes of it.
Ad Tech in India is cold: India has couple of 100 million users but Indian advertising technology companies could not make much money in Indian market. InMobi leads it in global markets, but hasn't yet made money (like Google or FB) in India. Let's see what 2015 has in store!
Acceleration by Accelerators: While we saw large money in late stage, there was a rush of early stage money and help too. If you are starting up, there is 150% chance of you getting into an accelerator. If Indian accelerators don't have a seat, there are global accelerators welcoming more and more Indian entrepreneurs.
Early Stage capital: It was never more fashionable to be a start up. Now there is more capital to support it too. Angel funds, networks, accelerators and even VCs are doing early stage investments. There are many more funding options out there, and I hope there will be no more horrendous funding-shark stories now.
Big Exits: One of the most important parts of investment and startup ecosystem is exits. Finally, we saw acquihire and some serious $100 Million dollar exits.
(Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder & CEO of One 97 Communications Ltd.)