Here's how Indian startups should go about getting global recognition
From artificial intelligence and fintech to cloud infrastructure and software-as-a-service, Indian tech startups are showing great potential to create extraordinary products and services. The country is now one of the largest tech startup hubs in the world.
Indian entrepreneurs face a number of obstacles including limited access to capital, high corporate tax rate, strict regulations and a tiring fundraising process. Even so, these entrepreneurs remain self-motivated to scale up the startup ecosystem and to create job and wealth creation avenues. They are determined to innovate, hustle, expand and keep up with the latest market trends.
These qualities have attracted interest from global tech giants. They are gradually showing interest in supporting, mentoring, funding and acquiring India-based startups that have excellent business ideas but are struggling to expend globally.
Last July, global search giant Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, acqui-hired Bangalore-based artificial intelligence (AI) and machine leearning venture Halli Labs. The startup was just four months old at the time.
The month before that, promotional firm London & Partners selected 20 India-based software product startups for the London tech week and supported them in expanding their businesses globally using London as a base.
There are lots of collaborations, acquisitions and partnerships taking place in the Indian startup ecosystem. However, a lot more needs to be done in terms of getting recognition in international startup hubs.
A number of small and midsize software product startups from India are to striving to make it big and adapt to different competitive markets such as the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Singapore, among others.
Several industry experts have pointed out that scalability remains the missing piece. It's time for Indian startups to keep their minds and eyes wide open while exploring opportunities and devising strategies to succeed abroad.
Here are three ways Indian startups can get on the path to gaining global recognition:
Enrolling in global accelerator programmes
US-based accelerator programmess such as Y Combinator, TechStars, AngelPad, 500 Startups etc. are playing a vital role in startup communities throughout the country and beyond.
Startup accelerators support early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship, and financing. Other early-stage institutions such as incubators, angel investors and seed-stage venture capitalists are unable to provide such a focused approach.
Unlike business incubators, anyone can apply to startup accelerators (though the process is highly competitive) and they provide free equity.
For example, Google Launchpad accelerator is six-month programme that selects growth-stage startups from emerging markets, providing equity-free support including mentorship and an all-expenses-paid, two-week training at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.
They have previously included Indian startups such as m.paani, SocialCops, and Niramai.
On-boarding a founder based in another country
A good strategy to speed up global growth is to have a diversified global team structure. Startups based abroad are keen on hiring a founder or senior executive from their native country. They then partner from American venture capital firms in the early stages of their business to help hire good talent and devise go-to-market strategy as part of efforts to achieve sustainable scale in the international market.
Online learning platform Udemy and security software company CyberArk are appropriate examples.
Founder Eren Bali built the Udemy software for a live virtual classroom while living in Turkey. He later moved it to Silicon Valley after realising its potential international market and made Indian-American Gagan Biyani a co-founder.
Similarly, Alon Cohen, co-founder and former CEO of CyberArk, moved the company headquarters to Dedham, Massachusetts, just a year after founding it in Israel.
Studying or working abroad
Entrepreneurship is currently trending among students. They are more focused on entrepeneurship rather than boosting their employability prospects.
Several schools in the US are promoting entrepreneurship programmes through courses, campus incubators, or innovation grants.
Schools in Southeast Asia are also actively trying to foster entrepreneurship among students. They send students to work in either local or overseas startups.
Indian-born Akshay Kothari co-founded Pulse, a mobile app first launched as a class project at Stanford University. The news aggregator later got acquired by LinkedIn for over $90 million.
Mehul Agarwal is a client partner at US-based WinWire Technologies Inc. The views expressed are personal.