India second to China for APAC startups and globally third largest unicorn ecosystem

According to GlobalData, Indian entrepreneurs received US$ 16.9 billion in venture capital investment in 2021, second only to Chinese peers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

According to GlobalData’s financial transactions database, 828 venture capital financing agreements were reported in India between January and July 2021, with a total declared funding value of US$ 16.9 billion.

Flipkart raised US$ 3.6 billion, Mohalla Tech (ShareChat) raised US$ 502 million, Zomato raised about US$ 500 million, and Think and Learn (Byju’s) raised US$ 460 million in India between January and July 2021.

“While several of the top major countries globally saw a drop in VC financing value in July compared to the previous month, India managed to display growth despite a decline in VC funding transaction volume,” stated Mr. Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData.

India has becoming a digital-first economy as smartphone usage has increased and mobile Internet has become cheaper. As a result, IT firms have benefited the most from this trend.

According to GlobalData, India has the world’s third-largest tech unicorn ecosystem, after only the United States and China. VC investors are showing interest in companies in e-commerce, social media and social networking, food delivery, edtech, and digital payments at the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mr. Bose.

Tech innovation is not just about tech – it needs a basis of deep understanding of your business

Sundaram Business Services has a deep understanding of Australian business.

Indian firms like Sundaram Business Services in Chennai and Australia should be on your radar for tech innovation – in addition to their tech innovation capabilities, SBS has been active in Australian business for many years and knows the business environment very well.

A KPMG survey ranks India third among countries that show the most promise for tech innovation.

Tech innovation is most successful when the supplier has a deep understanding of your business. This is like a mantra for the SBS group – building innovation on the sound basis of business understanding.

There has to be cross cultural understanding and good communication.

Whether it is Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or other innovation, success is gained when the supplier has the capacity to how your business works and what your needs are in the market.

More than 800 industry leaders were surveyed for the report which said 39 per cent believe global ‘hub’ cities such as London, Singapore, and Tel Aviv will continue to play a vital role, enabling talent to coalesce and collaborate in communities with a solid digital infrastructure.

There are so many great Indian startup stories – and much more to come

Mr. Girish Mathrubootham started Freshworks without any special help, nor did he come from wealth.

There are so many startup and unicorn stories in India today – and we know there will be more tomorrow.

Consider Freshworks which began eleven years ago and is now a huge firm with more than 3,800 team members and offices all over the world.

Mr. Girish Mathrubootham started Freshworks without any special help, nor did he come from wealth.

“We were only a six-person company operating out of a tiny garage in Chennai over eleven years ago. I didn’t have a gilded CV or come from a wealthy household, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming big.”

“I recognise that not every creator is as lucky, which is why as an angel investor, I have funded more than sixty startups,” he continued.

Now Girish Mathrubootham of Freshworks, Mr. Manav Garg of Eka Software, Mr. Shubham Gupta ex-Matrix, and Mr. Avinash Raghava ex-Accel have teamed together to establish a founders-first company called Together Fund in an effort to boost entrepreneurial enthusiasm in India.

The fund, which has a US$ 85 million initial capital, aims to assist India’s finest SaaS entrepreneurs in building, scaling, and winning together, therefore creating India as a true product country. Together Fund is India’s first and only venture capital fund run by founders. They operate some of India’s most well-known SaaS businesses in addition to being founding partners of Together.

The future of startups and innovation is looking good for India.

India’s EdTech has a huge boost due to covid and home learning

Harsh Rajan and Nirmla Sankaran founders of HeyMath – an E-Learning, online Maths coaching institute in Chennai.

India’s online education sector has really taken off as the pandemic led to school closures and a big part of the 250 million school children switched to online learning.

Investors are attracted to the large number of startups and unicorns in EdTech.

It’s an industry that will be worth nearly $2 billion by next year and is producing unicorns such as Byjus and Skillmatics.

Even with this dramatic growth, online education is touching only a small fraction of the Indian education market, so the future is strong.

A further boost for EdTech is the new National Education Policy (NEP), which looked at addressing the challenges and extending the scope of right to education (RTE) to students aged 3-18 years, with a key recommendation to harness edtech through app-based learning, online student communities, and lesson delivery beyond ‘chalk and talk’.

According to estimates by DataLabs, there are a total of 4,450 edtech startups operating in India, spread across various segments such as test preparation, e-tutoring, online certification, skill development, online discovery, and STEAM kit and enterprise solutions.

Educational delivery will no longer be either fully online or offline but a hybrid blend of both worlds.

For countries like Australia, India has an appetite for almost all of the EdTech innovations coming through.

Bill Gates says India is one to watch for tech innovation

Tech pioneer Bill Gates praised India’s policies for financial innovation and inclusion, saying his philanthropic foundation is working with other countries to roll out open-source technologies modeled on the country’s implementation.

“If people are going to study one country right now, other than China, I’d say they should look at India,” Gates said at the Singapore Fintech Festival on Tuesday. “Things are really exploding there and innovation around that system is phenomenal.”

India has built ambitious platforms for universal identification and digital payments, including the world’s largest biometric database and a system for sending rupees between any bank or smartphone app. Gates said those policies have drastically reduced the cost and friction of distributing aid to the poor, especially during the pandemic.

7 fatal mistakes in Indian market entry

India is super exciting, vibrant, colourful and amazingly friendly. People are accessible and available. Deals can be signed and MOU’s are much loved. The population of over 1.2 billion is soon to become the largest in the world and is soon to overtake China.

While India will probably not be “another China”, it is becoming a global power in its own right and an economy that will soon not be too far behind the USA and China.

So, it makes sense to be there real quick, yes?

YES be there – but watch out for these fatal mistakes

  1. Trying to do the whole country at once will exhaust and confuse you – even Indian companies take years to cover it. Select your best one or two points of entry and the rest will follow.

2. Going in quick on price might seem exciting – but who is actually winning out of this deal? You become a disposable and cheaper provider – so your future is very short term.

3. Appointing the first person who says “yes” seems exciting and then nothing happens. Later you might work out every Indian says “yes” – in their culture, they have to. It takes time to find a “yes” that is real.

4. Focusing on injustice, slums, inequality and the Indian way might be something you think is important but of course it is pretty offensive to your hosts. Sure the traffic is diabolical, but there is no benefit in whinging.

5. A short time frame such as one year is a real killer for Indian market entry. It needs to be a minimum 3 years. If you cannot give it time, go somewhere else.

6. Going it alone sounds brave – but is stupid and wasteful. India is all about relationships and collaborations. And you will need “hand holding” by someone who knows the ropes.

7. Ignoring cultural differences is a recipe for misunderstanding and disappointment. Cultural differences between India and the west are massive – and what we have in common is also massive. You need to understand them both.

Suzlon Group appoints new CEO for next stage of renewable energy

Suzlon Group, India’s largest renewable energy provider, has announced that it has appointed Mr. Ashwani Kumar as its Group CEO.

This is a significant announcement for sustainable energy and India in particular.

The Suzlon Group is one of the leading renewable energy solutions providers in the world with a global presence across 18 countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and Americas. Headquartered at Suzlon One Earth in Pune, India; the Group is comprised of Suzlon Energy Limited (NSE & BSE: SUZLON) and its subsidiaries.

Ashwani Kumar, with over three decades of experience in the areas of projects, business development and finance at leading Indian Power and Infrastructure companies is a Mechanical Engineer, and an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and The Harvard Business School.

Mr Tulsi Tanti

Mr Tulsi Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Group, is the driving force who has built Suzlon into a major global wind energy player.

Mr Tanti is picture sixth from left when he presented the Australia India Address in Melbourne.

Four Indian startups become unicorns during Covid19

Great Indian story of succeeding in tough times – four Indian startups, Postman, Nykaa, Unacademy and Razorpay, have become unicorns amid covid-19.

In the venture capital world, a “unicorn” is a startup with a value of $1 billion.

The nation is on track to have 8 unicorns in 2020, almost the same number of additions as in 2019.

According to a study titled ‘Covid-19 and the Antifragility of the Indian Startup Ecosystem,’ India is on its way to having 100 unicorns by 2025.

The study was launched by TiE-Delhi, a global non-profit organisation supporting entrepreneurship in collaboration with Zinnov, a global management and strategy consulting company.

It revealed that total funding fell by 50% compared to pre-covid levels during the lockdown. As a result, around 40% of start-ups have been adversely affected and 15% have been forced to discontinue operations.

The third largest start-up ecosystem in the world was jolted by the multi-dimensional pandemic and the effect was extreme during the lockdown period from March to June 2020. However, the rate of recovery, both in demand and in investor sentiment, was faster than anticipated as the economy opened.

Why is India doing so well in tough times?

During Covid19 there has been a big move to digital consumption – so startups in education, healthcare and trade have boomed.  

India and Australia are perfectly placed to become closer allies in the post-Covid19 world

The relationship between India should flourish in strategic and defence areas plus trade and investment.

Both Australia and India are significant powers in the Indian Ocean region.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is a major power.

The trade relationship

India was Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner and fifth-largest export market in 2018-19, driven by coal and international education. Two-way goods and services trade with India was $30.3 billion in 2018-19, and the level of two-way investment was $30.7 billion in 2018.

Strategic relations much closer now

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has worked hard on the India relationship and his personal connection with Indian PM Narendra Modi.

On 4 June 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, participated in the Australia-India Leaders’ Virtual Summit. At this meeting, the two Prime Ministers elevated the bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009 to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

The CSP is based on mutual understanding, trust, common interests and the shared values of democracy and rule of law. Through the CSP, both countries have committed to work together across a range of areas.

The CSP also marks a step forward in the two countries’ ambitious agenda to expand our trade and economic relationship, as outlined in the India Economic Strategy (IES), which was released in July 2018 and endorsed by the Australian Government in November 2018.

India’s growing economy and young population need Australian goods and services

Over the next 20 years, a growing India will need many of Australia’s goods and services, including agriculture, education and skills training, and healthcare. There will of course be growth across most areas – but these are the standouts.

Since 2000, India’s GDP has grown seven-fold to reach USD3 trillion. India’s economy is forecast to become the third largest by 2030 (currently seventh) in market exchange rate terms. India already has the third largest economy in PPP terms and is set to maintain this ranking. The two-way stock of investment was valued at AUD30.7 billion in 2018. In 2018, Australia’s investment in India was valued at AUD15.6 billion and India’s investment in Australia was valued at AUD15.1 billion. India was Australia’s 18th largest investment destination.

The Aussie “India Economic Strategy”

Australia’s economic engagement with India is underpinned by the India Economic Strategy (IES), which was commissioned by the Australian Government in 2017 and led by Mr Peter Varghese, former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2012-2016) and High Commissioner to India (2009-2012). This document is the guide for future growth.

Education is huge but facing challenges

Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at AUD5.5 billion and accounting for around 85 per cent of the total. Indian students in Australia number almost 110, 000 (year to date September 2019), which marks a 33 per cent increase over the previous year. These students made 132,079 enrolments in Australia, comprising 15 per cent of international enrolments. As an education export market, India is second only to China, with exports valued at AUD12.1 billion in 2018-19 and 246,454 enrolments in Australia. Adapting to post-Covid19 education market changes will be a challenge for Australian universities.

Austrade is showing and creating the way

The Australia-India Business Exchange (AIB-X) is a new, Austrade-led, Australia-India business marketing platform that will build on the success of Australian Business Week in India, last held in 2017. This multi-month campaign included a coordinated program of activities and events. Minister Birmingham led a business mission to India in late February as part of AIB-X, with sectoral events and workshops to be held in five cities.

This will provide an opportunity to deepen trade and investment ties, focusing on small and medium across the IES’ priority sectors. Further information can be found on the Austrade website.

Plus Austrade has set up The Australian Store at Amazon India – primed to take off over the next few years.

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People-to-people links

Australia and India are building strong and lasting ties through our people-to-people links.

The Indian diaspora (comprising both Australians of Indian origin and Indians resident in Australia) is now Australia’s fastest growing large diaspora. According to the most recent (2016) Census, the number of people born in India amounts to 592,000, representing 2.4 per cent of the Australian population, or 1 in 50 people. Around 700,000 people claim Indian ancestry.

India remains Australia’s largest source of skilled migrants and the second largest source of international students. Hinduism is our fastest growing religion and Punjabi is our fastest growing language.

The Australia India Council

The Australia-India Council is also advancing Australia’s foreign and trade policy interests with India. Each year it provides grants for programs linking the two countries. I was fortunate to support the Genesis Horticulture Services research mission to India in November – part funded by AIC.

(Thanks to DFAT for lots of the above information)

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Covid19 could lead us to a cleaner more innovative world – if we rethink what we do

About seven million people are killed by air pollution every year. The current model of modern society is unsustainable.

Two leading Professors say that looking through a COVID-19 lens provides us an amazing picture outside and shows some innovative pathways on living in harmony with nature, i.e. new-modern society.

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They are Professor Suresh Bhargava, RMIT University, Australia (pictured above) and Professor Seeram Ramakrishnan, National University of Singapore (below).

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Here are some points from their recent paper on the topic:

Contrary to devastating effects, the COVID19 had positive outcomes in terms of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources, and climate change.  Satellite imageries confirm the reduction of NOx, SOx and other pollutants in all cities of the world.

COVID19 provides an opportunity to rethink everything humans do. The current model of modern society is unsustainable. Reversing the clock and going back to pre-modern society built on fulfilling just the needs of humans is not realistic.

Pollution

Sustaining the modern society built on fulfilling the needs and wants of humans requires out of the box thinking. In the current climate of COVID, companies are struggling to survive on top of challenges in industry 4.0 or digitalization of products and services. How will they be able to think about sustainability while their worry is about resilience, and make the necessary adjustments to their business for the long term?

Sustainability has tended to be a secondary priority for many industries and especially SME businesses. Now faced with business survival and viability concerns, what is the status of existing sustainability initiatives in companies and across industries? How has the pandemic affected existing initiatives and longer-term targets, plans and ambitions on the sustainability front?  How can organisations get back on track with regard to their sustainability ambitions e.g. are there synergistic business-led propositions that can serve these aims? What countries can do in terms of sustainability, circular economy and Paris agreement to decarbonize while growing shrink economies and rising employment opportunities?

Using a COVID19 lens, there are opportunities for decarbonisation while not compromising the modern ways of living and economic growth.

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Countries and companies will shorten the supply chains and value chains.  Globalization will take newer form relying more on digital technologies and internet.  This will be facilitated by yet to emerge innovations in finance and commerce.

COVID19 has unexpected effect on food industry. Clean meat is touted as a solution to zoonotic diseases associated with current methods of producing meat from the animals.  Clean meat is made from plant based, cultivated cells.  Hence the carbon footprint is lower than animal sourced meat.

Critics will argue for slow and careful introduction of clean meat to the mass population.  Therein lies huge opportunities for innovations, technologies, new jobs and new pathways of economic growth while caring for the Earth.

Importance of safe water and its adequate supply is highlighted by the COVID19.  Sustainable future lies in the zero-waste water innovations and technologies.

The single use plastic wastes have been identified for their pollution of the marine ecology and subsequent negative effects on the food chain and human health.  Science, business, standards, and policy innovations are needed to replace the petrochemical derived plastics with degradable bioplastics derived from the renewable sources.  Designing products with end-of-life considerations and life cycle engineering opens up opportunities for economy growth and new jobs creation while improving the quality of environment.

The Energy sector is also affected by the COVID19.  Oil futures went into negative. It is an opportune time for the governments to eliminate the fossil fuel subsidies and invest in renewable energy infrastructure as long-term nation building.

Perhaps, governments and companies should together accelerate the electrification of transportation.  New jobs and new economic growth to happen in vehicle design and manufacturing, digitization, as well as charging infrastructure.

COVID19 transformed shopping and brought almost the whole of humanity to on-line shopping.  The on-line shopping for groceries and food deliveries are on par with electronic goods and accessories.

Similarly, work has moved to telework, and the Education moved to on-line learning and assessment.

Digital services for virtual meetings, online learning, telemedical diagnostics, government services, ecommerce, grocery delivery, e-banking, and entertainment all experienced unprecedented growth in demand. The hyper scale data centres with their 24x7x365 resilient operation, are the heart of digital transformation.

Looking to the coming decade, the introduction of 5G will further accelerate the digital transformation era with its clear alignment with Industrial 4.0, in which real time data and automation will power more of the industrial world.

Clear messages emerged from the COVID19 pandemic include, the digital transformation is a necessity to keep society running; mental health is important for the general well-being and productivity of a person; and a healthy living environment is a basic human right.

The circular economy vision, decarbonisation and sustainability efforts mitigate climate change thus create opportunities for sustained economic growth and new jobs creation. 

Amazing research work by the two and continues the innovative and collaborative approaches of my friend Professor Suresh Bhargava – well done!

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