I had a fascinating conversation with Samiran Ghosh, a Senior Advisor at McKinsey & Company and an astute follower of the startup ecosystem in India. Samiran’s background in technology spans more than 25 years, including time as Microsoft’s Chief Digital Advisor in Mumbai and other senior positions at IBM, and Dun & Bradstreet.
We began our conversation with a discussion on some of the biggest current trends in the India technology space. One of the interesting insights that Samiran shared was that more and more, incumbent corporates and reaching out and working with startups…a trend we are also seeing in Southeast Asia. It remains difficult for established corporates to innovate internally and working with tech startups on specific problems is becoming a more efficient way to take advantage of new technology developments.
Samiran also noted that while the domestic Indian market is huge, another aspect of the ecosystem is the move away from solely the domestic consumption mode and into other markets, notably Southeast Asia. A company like Oyo is a very good example of this. Note this story on Oyo’s recent funding and how it will use that to continue to expand aggressively outside of India’s borders. While international expansion is trending, it is not always smooth sailing. Read this story on Ola Cab, another Indian unicorn.
I was also interested to know more about the angel investment layer in India. Samiran said that if he was asked this question three or so years ago, his answer would have been very different. Back then it was marked more by ‘fashion investing’. However, today he would categorize the full scope of investment stages as reasonably healthy, including angel and seed stage. There are also plenty of forums for startups to go pitch their ideas.
We covered a lot more ground as well. We spent some time discussing Aadhaar, an Indian government project to create a national ID system. Its mission is stated as empowering “residents of India with a unique identity and digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere."