By Amol Goel, Founder and CEO, Helpost
2013 founded Helpost is a web portal for help seekers and help providers. It is a platform where the seeker and the help provider meet to satisfy their service needs.
From Aditya Bandi’s Bookpad Inc. being acquired by Yahoo to the poster boys of the emerging startup-oriented Indian market - Flipkart, Zomato and Ola with their millions from foreign investors – India is fast coming up as the preferred choice for entrepreneurships the world over.
When I was in London for some work a few years ago, I had a chance to hear Professor VlatkaHlupic speak at the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He jokingly quoted, “God made man, everything else is made in India and China,” further adding that “the future of new ideas lies in these two nations, as both Europe and US are becoming stagnant with their ideas.” Back then it had seemed like a farfetched idea to me, knowing how giants like Google and Facebook already dominated the biggest chunk in the whole startup market. Today, however, looking at the direction Indian startups are headed towards, with enterprises joining the Billion Dollar Club at a baffling pace, it seems like the golden future of a young, aspiring India has finally arrived.
Startup Incubation Centers (also known as Startup Accelerators) hold significant importance for entrepreneurs, especially in a country like India where new startups are mushrooming and changing the face of the market by the minute. For the uninitiated, these are specifically designed programs aimed at providing support, mentorship and resources to individual entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurial setups. It enables them to get all the expert advice and technical guidance that they would need to survive for a longer period of time, as opposed to most of the other entrepreneurial ventures that fizzle out within a few months of their launch.
Incubation centres are a staple of almost all the prestigious B-schools in India to ensure that great ideas are nurtured right at their source. Currently, there are about hundred incubation centers supported by the ISBA, the apex Indian professional body supporting them. Private incubators are a handful, though, but gradually growing at a steady pace, and these numbers are only expected to double within the next two years.
Meanwhile, business accelerators like Microsoft Ventures and Google Capital are busy ramping up plans for India. Industry networks and lobby groups such as the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table are raising the profile of Indian startups and even
Indian IT services companies are spawning product-focused enterprises. India’s richest individuals, including Mukhesh Ambani and Wipro’s Premji, have also started backing young, promising entrepreneurial efforts. Reliance Group, Ambani’s diverse conglomerate that includes one of the world’s largest oil refineries and a pan-India fiber optic network, has only recently agreed to partner with Microsoft to fund and mentor various startups in India. National Association of Software and Services Cos. (NASSCOM), which until recently was dominated by Indian outsourcing companies, has also been successful at their efforts to promote product developers with their ‘10,000 Startups’ initiative.
Despite having so much going for it, India’s startup ecosystem still has some significant hurdles in its way, the foremost being the bureaucracy’s unfriendly outlook towards startups. But it does look like things are changing; the Federal Government of India allocated 100 billion rupees in the budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year specifically to support and fund startups. There is still hope in the market vis-à-vis Narendra Modi’s, the new Indian Prime Minister, enthusiasm to boost the country's investment climate, accompanied by SEBI’s plan to bring changes to the existing rules in order for Indian startups to take the IPO route to raise funds.
Another huge obstacle facing the startup environment has more to do with the general Indian psyche and traditional conservatism than anything related to the market. We have been traditionally averse to serious risk-taking and often get fixated on failure much more than success. “Today, if a company is not making revenue, and continues to not make revenue for two or three years, I would want to see how many VCs are ready to fund that company in India,” said Aditya Sanghi, chief executive and co-founder of HMS Infotech, owners of Hotelogix.
We at Helpost.com have, as a startup, been observing a high rate of growth since its inception, especially in terms of the number of people we have been reaching out to. We’ve touched millions of people within a span of six months, and incorporated over 200,000 people in various cities in India and abroad into our network. It’s nice to be living in the era when your ideas, if developed well enough, can be converted into fruitful opportunities. With Helpost, we have tried to provide a crowd sourced solution to people’s everyday problems wherever they are, taking the startup ideology of synergism to a globally spread audience.