The government of India has been working hard to incentivise startups and entrepreneurs across the country right from the Startup India initiative to startup-friendly policies and state innovation policies.
But what does it take to truly create an ecosystem that fosters innovation and helps startups grow to the next level?
Speaking at the August Fest in Hyderabad on Saturday, Srinivas Kollipara, COO of Hyderabad-based startup engine T-Hub, says that any ecosystem is always about the entrepreneur and no stakeholder should forget that.
â€śWhen we started the journey of T-Hub, our mission was to make Telangana a startup ecosystem. But we soon realised that it is not about us, not about the government, not about the problems there. Itâ€™s about the startups. And itâ€™s about bringing all the pieces necessary together to make it happen,â€ť he adds.
Srinivas Kollipara (second from left) and Jayesh Ranjan (third from left) speaking at the August Fest 2017 in Hyderabad
Merely emulating a Silicon Valley-like ecosystems will not work. Ecosystems must be tailor-made to the local region.
â€śLike in Hyderabad, agri-tech, biotech, pharma are the main sectors. You have to see whatâ€™s relevant locally to the place and tailor it accordingly,â€ť says Srinivas.
Startups too should be looking at solving local problems.
Stage one â€“ Density
Srinivas says that to create a scaling-up environment you have to ensure you have lots of stuff going on.
â€śThatâ€™s happening in Hyderabad today. We have around 30 co-working spaces, 20 incubators and around 200 startups and we started with nothing,â€ť he adds.
T-Hub too, constantly conducts events, accelerator programs with corporates, community get-togethers to bring the startup community in Hyderabad together.
Create success stories
The next journey for an ecosystem is creating success stories. It doesnâ€™t matter if you have ten thousand startups if none of them are doing well. How you find the 1-2 that are doing well and how do you create success stories is the key.
More often, these startups should be solving local problems.
In the case of Hyderabad, Telangana focuses on supporting early stage startups. And for startups that are at a later stage and need scaling up, thatâ€™s where T-Hub comes into the picture.
It gives startups access to funding, mentorship and even partnerships with large corporates.
It not only helps startups explore the international markets but also helps in bringing international startups to India and contribute towards solving problems here.
Government support is crucial
For a startup to scale, it is very important that there is government support.
â€śThere are many reasons why the government needs to get involved. For example, there are many cutting edge technologies where policies donâ€™t exist. Policy support is very important as it could impede growth,â€ť Srinivas adds.
Adding to this, Jayesh Ranjan, IT secretary, government of Telangana says that the ecosystem required for early stage startups is different from the ecosystem for scale up.
â€śThe government has hence worked out a plan where it gives the required support to early stage startups, served through the innovation policy. But for later stage startups that are ready to take off, a more curated and focused support is provided by T-Hub,â€ť he adds.
The government is also good as a customer for scale.
Jayesh agrees. The government helps early stage startups with financial and tax benefits offered under the Startup India program. He takes the examples of startups like Hug Innovations and Gayam Motor Works, talking about how they have benefitted from early support to scale up.
Further, having the government as a customer gives startups a level of confidence as well, adds Jayesh.
This article has been produced with inputs from T-Hub as a part of a partner program.