Shilparanipeta

Telecom
Jio’s operating revenue in the third quarter of FY2019 crossed Rs 10,000 crore and it reported a net profit of Rs 831 crore.
  • Friday, January 18, 2019 - 12:07

Nearly three years since its launch, Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio’s subscriber base has reached 280.1 million, adding 27.9 million in the quarter ending in December. Announcing its financial results for the third quarter of FY2019, Jio reported a net profit of Rs 831 crore (65% growth) and operating revenue of Rs 10,383 crore for the quarter, which is a 12.4% growth from the previous quarter.

The average data consumption per user per month stood at 10.8 GB, which was majorly driven by video consumption of 794 minutes per user per month. The average voice consumption was 794 minutes per user per month.

In total, Jio witnessed wireless data traffic of 864 crore GB during the December quarter, while the voice traffic stood at 63,406 crore minutes. Its average revenue per user (ARPU) for the quarter was Rs 130.

It also claims that among all telecom players, Jio experienced the lowest call drop rate at 0.12%.

“The Jio family is now 280 million strong and growing on one of the world’s largest mobile data networks, in line with our vision of connecting everyone and everything, everywhere – always at the highest quality and the most affordable price. We are similarly working on re-inventing the connectivity solutions market for Homes and Enterprise with our next generation FTTX services. Our relentless focus is on creating platforms to truly transform the digital life of every citizen of India across connectivity, commerce, media and entertainment, financial services, agriculture, education and healthcare, which will further enhance productivity and economic prospects of our nation,” Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited said in a statement on Thursday.

Jio’s broadband solution, JioGigaFiber, which was launched in 2018, saw overwhelming interest across 1,400 cities, Jio says, as it is in the process of connecting homes on priority based on the requests received and optimising its service offerings.

Post regulatory approvals on its deal to acquire Hathway Cable and Den networks, Jio says that it will be strengthening the business model of 27,000 local cable operators that are aligned with DEN and Hathway across 750 cities, by creating multiple future opportunities with new services and platforms.

It also announced that it intends to transfer its fibre and tower businesses into separate companies Jio Digital Fibre Private Limited and Reliance Jio Infratel Private Limited, respectively.

Fund Raising
IndigoLearn now aims to scale its student base to 1 lakh students over the next one year on the back of funding and new product launches lined up in the coming months.
  • Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 16:09

Hyderabad-based EdTech startup IndigoLearn.com, which focuses on teaching finance and accounting has raised $135k in a follow-on round from angel investors. Angel investors based out of India and US including Vivek Subramanyam, ex-CEO of Fintellix and Girish Vyasamudri, Vice President and General Manager - India at Tangoe participated in this round. The Company has so far raised $265K from Investors, including the angel round it had announced in April 2018).

Founded in early 2017, IndigoLearn.com provides online education for students pursuing CA and related courses in Finance and Accounting domains. It was founded by Sriram Somayajula, ex-VP Finance of Furlenco, Sathya Raghu, renowned CA faculty, Suraj Lakhotia who is an All India CA topper and Sarat Velumuri a techie from BITS Pilani.

 “A significant portion of the current fund-raise will be used to reach a wider audience across the country, followed by product development and technology. We have made substantial investments in content development over last one year; in the coming year, we will be launching modules for several new subjects across various courses which will help us reach a much wider audience,” Suraj said.

The startup has so far launched over 700 hours of immersive, visual rich content covering subjects primarily for Students of CA Foundation and CA Inter. In next one year, IndigoLearn is planning to launch modules for CA Final, global professional courses and classes 11 and 12.

“IndigoLearn is attempting to disrupt a market that has not seen one for a long time. They have built an excellent product that clearly differentiates from the rest of the offline / semi offline players in this space,” Girish said.

Since its inception, the Company claims to have helped over 20,000 students across the country to prepare for their CA examinations and says that it has seen immense traction from Tier II towns as well. “We have students in over 300 non-metro locations. There is a large amount of inbound interest from students and parents in smaller towns, given their lack of access to high quality content,” Sriram says.

IndigoLearn now aims to scale its student base to 1 lakh students over the next one year on the back of funding and new product launches scheduled in the coming months

“We are offering byte sized modules in story telling form, for complex topics and theoretical subjects, using movie quality visual effects / animation. In-addition, IndigoLearn provides students with detailed analytics on their performance. IndigoLearn is the only player in the Finance & Accounting education space offering these features to the students at affordable prices,” Sathya Raghu, Lead Faculty and Director added.

Cab Aggregators
Currently available invite-only, the offering will not only be out to all customers but will also be extended to other segments such as food, entertainment and utilities.
  • Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 12:26

Bengaluru-based homegrown cab hailing service Ola has launched digital credit payment “Ola Money Postpaid”. The offering was launched last year as a pilot and will now be rolled out for all its 150 million users in India in the coming months. Ola Money Postpaid offers a 15-day credit line for cab rides and requires just one click without the need of any OTP or password to process the payment.

Users can log on to the Ola app and click on the ‘Payments’ option. After tapping on the ‘Ola Money Postpaid invite’ button, customers will then have to select the 'Get Started' button.

With Ola Money Postpaid, Ola claims that it has taken payments on ride sharing platform to another level and brought it at par with utility payments where payments are made once per month post the consumption of services. At present, Ola Money Postpaid is being used by more than 10% of Ola customers and 90% of the early adopters have used the offering more than once.

“At Ola, we are focused on innovating and building solutions that ensure a seamless digital experience for millions of users across the country. Ola Money Postpaid is an innovative, world’s first offering that was launched post taking into account learnings and user experience of other modes of payment. The response has been phenomenal and more and more Ola customers are already making Ola Money Postpaid, their preferred choice of payment,” Nitin Gupta, Chief Executive Officer of Ola Financial Services said in a statement.

Fuelled by the momentum, Ola will extend the offering to all its customers in coming months and increase credit line offering & billing cycle to 30 days. The Ola Money Postpaid offering is made available to customers basis internal big data risk scoring algorithms.

“Ola is dedicated to supporting the Government’s vision of a cashless economy and we are committed to being a major force in India’s rapidly growing digital payments market. We will continue to invest in innovative solutions that promote the digital economy across India while extending the benefits of this first of its kind Postpaid offering to more Indians,” Nitin added.

Ola Money Postpaid will also extend its reach beyond mobility and integrate it into other segments such as food, entertainment and utilities in the coming months. The company also plans to enroll other merchants to create a faster and convenient payment mechanism for customers. 

Angel Tax
Terming the impact on startups ‘dire’, iSPIRT claims that the number of angel investors has fallen 48% from 2015 due to the angel tax issue.
  • Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - 18:18

With the issue of Angel Tax plaguing startups in the country, Indian Software Products Industry Round Table (iSPIRT), a think tank for India’s software products industry wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on behalf of Indian startups seeking support and immediate action on the Angel Tax issue.

In a letter titled ‘Grave situation facing startups on the Section 56 (2)(viib) “Angel Tax”, the think tank said that despite the immense strides Startup India has made, the issue of Angel Tax has greatly shaken the confidence of these startups.

“As per surveys conducted by LocalCircles, over 2,600 startups have gotten such IT notices in the last year. This single angel tax issue is undoing all the good of Startup India,” it wrote in the letter.

iSPIRT says that angel tax is being used to target startups who have raised capital from Indian investors though it was put in place to prevent the conversion of unaccounted funds via high share premium. And while startups are raising funds with valuation reported prepared as per the law, it claims that assessing offers are disregarding these valuation reports and methods chosen in favour of alternate methods, which are more favourable to tax officers.

“The choice of valuation as per the Income Tax Act 1961 is up to the assessee, but the tax officers are substituting the Discounted Cash Flow valuation method for a book-value method, the latter of which is not suited for these startups,” the letter said.

Terming the impact on startups as ‘dire’, it said that the number of angel investors has fallen 48% from 2015 and the total amount invested into such deals has also fallen 21%. Further, several startups are considering closing their business and creating companies in places like Singapore to avoid such issues, it claimed in the letter.

Having faced slow progress on action from various officials from Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Finance and Niti Aayog, iSPIRT has recommended that the CBDT issue a circular before the budget with the following points:

Investments received by a startup, as recognized by DIPP from resident investors up to Rs 10 crore per year should be exempt from the section 56 (2)(viib) and section 68 of the Income Tax Act.

As per the Section 68, if a startup is unable to explain the source of capital raised or gives an unsatisfactory explanation to the Assessing Officer, the funds raised can be taxed.

The committee proposed to be formed by DIPP on this issue should look into the open cases and assess by March 31, 2019 to see if the valuation report is reasonable.

iSPIRT also wants all ongoing appeals on the issue of angel tax to be time-barred and closed by March 31, 2019 without having to pay 20% deposit to obtain a stay order.

With the interim budget around the corner, iSPIRT has also recommended a few modifications to be made to section 56 (2)(viib) and section 68. Apart from the exemption it spoke of earlier, it wants an accreditation mechanism for angel investors called ‘accredited investors’ to be implemented. And for investments made to DIPP-recognized startups, iSPIRT wants the accredited investors to be exempt from the section 56 (2)(viib) and section 68.

The letter, addressed to PM Narendra Modi, on behalf of the Indian startup community has been signed by nearly 70 entrepreneurs.

Fund Raising
Adurcup will use the funds raised to train the distributor network in using technology, strengthen its presence in all major metros and to start cold supply chain.
  • Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - 16:45

Restaurant procurement platform providing a unique stack of SAAS and Ecommerce solutions ‘Adurcup’ has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Venture Catalysts. The platform provides a comprehensive portfolio of products to cater to the procurement problem of ‘HoReCa’ industry, which stands for ‘Hotels, Restaurants, and Catering.’

Venture Catalysts said in a statement that this investment will help Adurcup bolstered its plans to streamline process gaps and reduce manual intervention driven errors in the procurement process of India’s F&B industry.  Notable investors Dipan Dalal of MK Ingredients & Specialities, Navin Pansari of Olympia Industries Ltd, Sudhanshu Rastogi of Sarc Infrastate Ltd., Somesh Bhatia of FCC Projects Pvt. Ltd. and others participated in the round. Singapore based VC Tushar Aggarwal also participated in the round.  

Adurcup was incepted by IIT Kanpur alumni Abhishek Verma, Harshit Mittal, Kumar Kushang and Nitin Prakash. The organization facilitates and optimizes procurement of products and services for food-related startups. The online platform offers a unique end-to-end SAAS and ecommerce stack for covering vendor management, inventory management, distribution center management, logistics management and product sourcing.

“We are excited to enter this phase of our growth and welcome all our investors who have come on board in our current round of funding. We will be leveraging this capital to train the distributor network in using technology, strengthen our presence in all the major metro cities, start cold supply chain and address the complete wallet of HoReCa. We have been quite focused on the non-perishable segment in the restaurants and after cracking the same in the Delhi-NCR region, we are now looking towards increasing our horizons and becoming a market leader in supply chain automation across the country. Today we are one of the largest HoReCa supply chain databases. After building a substantial infrastructure of digital transactions, we feel that the goldmine of our business is our data, which has been acquired in a very capital efficient way. Right now, we are sitting on the cusp of disruption as we move towards launching some incredible features in the next 12 months using our data,” Abhishek Verma, COO & Co-Founder, Adurcup said.

The scope of the HoReCa industry is immense considering the existence of more than 1.5 Lakhs restaurants within the top 75 cities of the country. Adurcup claims to have India’s largest supply chain data repository with one million+ data points, which gives it scope for unprecedented growth in terms of scalability of product. Having already delivered sales of Rs 3.6 crore in FY17-18 and a run rate of Rs 25 crore for FY 18-19, Adurcup will now leverage the latest funds secured to build a stronger technology that fully transforms the HoReCa procurement process.

Speaking on his decision to invest in Adurcup, Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-founder and President of Venture Catalysts said, “Adurcup is already moving closer towards its vision of building the technology infrastructure long awaited to bolster HoReCa industry’s supply chain. Having had the first mover advantage in this space, the company has managed to create a very strong database on the basis of digital transactions. It has already impacted more than 1 million dining out experiences, half a million food deliveries and empowers more than 500+ SME's in the value chain with major presence Delhi NCR. Considering how they are generating value for their customers by making restaurant procurements smarter, we are thrilled to add Adurcup to our portfolio and become a part of what promises to be an amazing growth story in the days to come.”  

E-commerce
All India Online Vendors Association said that CCI was unjust in ruling out Flipkart’s dominance even after it submitted ample evidence to prove otherwise.
  • Saturday, January 12, 2019 - 18:01

All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA), an association representing 3500 online sellers has said that it will appeal against the clean chit given to Flipkart by Competition Commission of India's (CCI). In November 2018, CCI ruled out AIOVA’s complaint that Flipkart was abusing its dominant position in the market to favor certain sellers.

“…Looking at the present market construct and structure of online marketplace platforms market in India, it does not appear that any one player in the market is commanding any dominant position at this stage of evolution of market,” CCI’s order in November stated.

AIOVA will now approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLAT) to appeal against CCI’s decision.

It said in a statement that CCI’s ruling was unjust and that the regulatory body misinterpreted facts.

“CCI was unjust in ruling out dominance prima facie, even after submitting ample evidence to prove otherwise. The CCI also misinterpreted facts, omitted sensitive facts submitted by us and was unjust in ruling out dominance in this sector,” the association told TNM.

The seller body also questioned CCI’s reasoning of not wanting to interfere in a market since it is in a nascent stage.

“We believe the order of CCI was bad in law and suffered from non-application of mind and we seek relief from NCLAT to direct the CCI to order and investigation into our allegations,” it further added.

In the past too, AIOVA, along with other seller associations such as Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), strongly opposed the Walmart-Flipkart deal, fearing that Walmart might bring in its own private labels via Flipkart to India at highly competitive prices, which may cannibalise the market and make it difficult for domestic sellers to operate.

CAIT, at the time, moved CCI to file its objections to the deal and even wrote to Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking to know what steps the Government has taken to scrutinise the deal and check if it is violating any law or FDI policy of the government.

Fund Raising
Grexter has raised the capital as part of its Pre-Series A funding round and aims to use the funds to enchance its inventory and to ramp up its technology architecture.
  • Friday, January 11, 2019 - 14:53

Bengaluru-based co-living space Grexter has raised $1.5 million as part of its Pre-Series A funding round from Venture Catalysts. Grexter aims to leverage the funds for enhancing the inventory it offers as well as to ramp up its technology architecture. Notable investors Arisht Jain of Samyakth Group ; Vikas Bohra, Vishal Shah participated in round, in addition to the participation from developers, HNIs, real estate professionals, family offices, private equity funds, wealth management companies and others.       

Grexter provides fully furnished co-living spaces wherein the rent covers all amenities and services like bills, internet, DTH, daily housekeeping etc. Problems such as hefty brokerage fees, low-quality homes, sky-high rents and deposits, and picky homeowners are all eliminated when one moves into a Grexter property.

Grexter is currently at approximately 1500 beds across Bengaluru and plans to significantly increase that number in the near future.

Speaking on the investment, Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-founder and President of Venture Catalysts, said, “Venture Catalysts is on a mission to identify promising ventures that actually plug a gap in the market and address pertinent consumer needs. The rental accommodation sphere caters to one of the most basic needs of consumers yet it continues to be highly fragmented and plagued with key problems pertaining to quality, transparency and high brokerage fees. Grexter eliminates all these lacunae with its unique and tech-driven business model. It is also creating a robust co-living ecosystem in India and we are certain that it will successfully capture a lion’s share of the USD 20 billion accommodation rental market through its innovative approach.”

Grexter was founded by IIT-Madras alumni Pratul Gupta and Nikhil Dosi. Pratul has been an investment banker with Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank and has also worked with a venture capital fund called Acumen. Nikhil has worked in Reliance Industries and also been the Operations Head of Gopigeon, a NEXUS-funded logistics startup.

“We believe in perfecting the practice before taking a big leap. Having bootstrapped the venture, we’ve climbed our way up firefighting and understanding every use case scenario possible. We are confident that with the mentorship and the influx of funds from Venture Catalysts we’d be able to accelerate the growth of Grexter and invigorate our tech platform as well. We envision to scale up rapidly and accommodate over 5000 beds by the end of 2019. This is the start of another exciting chapter in our growth story,’ Pratul Gupta, Founder, Grexter said in a statement.

Startups
Voltera V-One printer prints Circuit Boards directly on the desktop of developers.
  • Sunday, December 23, 2018 - 11:21

When Canadian Mechatronics Engineering Grads Alroy Almeida, James Pickard, Jesus A. Zozaya and Nanotechnology Engineering grad Katarina Ilic were working on classroom projects in 2013, they were very frustrated with the slow pace of hardware development. At a time when 3D printing was catching up, they wanted to try and do the same for circuit board development and founded Voltera.

Solving the problem of getting a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) made, they created the ‘Voltera V-One printer’ that prints Circuit Boards directly on the desktop of developers. This they say, helps accelerate development and bring hardware products to the market faster.

Voltera today sells V-One in over 60 countries and has been accelerating development for startups, students, and corporate developers worldwide. 

Voltera sees an immense opportunity in the Indian market and is now looking help developers in India bring their products to the global market faster.

“It is evident that with its versatility, great educational institutes, and technological developments there is enormous opportunity for a product like ours to flourish while giving these developers the tools they need to innovate products within the Indian economy. We plan to put a V-One on every developers desk to help them bring their products to the global market faster. The make in India initiative is a great government push to manufacture products in India, we want to be the reason behind a ‘designed in India’ initiative,” Katarina Ilic, co-founder of Voltera says.

Voltera is part of T-Hub’s India Canada bridge program. Katarina says that the Indian market is hard to crack given the diversity of the market and understanding policies, procurement systems, and value perception. It is working with T-Hub to try and penetrate the Indian market and find channel partners. 

Its V-One printer in India will be priced at Rs 5 lakh per printer.

“We have been able to find the channel partners we want to work with to help bring the V-One to the Indian market. For a complex product like ours, it is critical to have on the ground service and technical support. I have been looking for a partner in India for a long time now, but it really just came together when I came to visit India with T-hubs guidance. We are excited to build out our distribution network in India with our new partners and T-hub beside us,” Katarina says.

Startups
Szio+ has launched two products including a UTI control supplement, which is made from cranberries.
  • Saturday, December 22, 2018 - 17:00

Urinary Tract Infection, more commonly known as UTI, is increasingly becoming common in India, especially among women due to lack of basic sanitation amenities. According to some studies, over 10 million cases of UTI are reported in India.

And this issue is not just in India. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘UTI is the leading cause of morbidity and health care expenditures in persons of all ages’. An estimated 50% of women report having had a UTI at some point in their lives.

When Canada-based Derek’s wife, with a history of UTI faced serious health problems due to UTI while on vacation, it compelled Derek to understand UTIs better and try and do something to avoid this problem that could affect anyone.

“UTIs are the second most common infection seen by Doctors worldwide. It is also one of the most common reason for antibiotic use. In India UTIs are more prevalent because of hydration, hygiene and rising issues of antibiotic resistance amongst other causes,” Derek says.   

He, along with Faraz Nomani founded Szio+ with a vision to empower consumers to suspect-detect-correct their health proactively.  Szio+ launched its first brand ‘Utiva’, which has two products: a rapid urine test strip for early-detection of UTI symptoms in the convenience of one’s home and Utiva Control supplement that it claims a clinically proven to prevent UTIs and recommended by Doctors. 

“Being susceptible to UTIs, the first line of options are typically antibiotics to treat a UTI and daily low dose antibiotics for prevention. In speaking with our Gynecologists, Urologists and UroGynes, we came to understand that not all-natural remedies are effective, and some may provide benefit, but they were in favour of patients using anything to make them feel better. The only natural product with significant data to support it was isolated to the active molecule of the cranberry – Proanthocyanidins (PAC). We learned that 36mg of PAC was the clinically effective dose that would help protect the urinary tract from bacteria such as E. coli from sticking to the tissue and allow for it to be flushed out when urinating,” Faraz says.

Szio+ then began working with a Canadian producer of cranberries to formulate the required concentration of whole cranberry fruit.

Szio+ is now in India as part of T-Hub’s India Canada bridge program to establish its presence here and also help address the UTI problem in India.

“In India we have a very specific patient group to focus on and testing the Utiva portfolio with a hospital network that specializes in caring for those group of patients.  We are currently in talks with three prestigious hospital groups and working with them to establish a centre of excellence for UTI care for their patients,” Faraz says.

With assistance from T-Hub, it has been able to understand the Indian market and reach out to various stakeholders to try and pitch their product to potential customers. “T-Hub also coached us on how to reengineer our business model for India, keeping in mind the importance of localization and being laser focused on a particular customer segment in order to win,” he adds.

Currently, it has a presence across Canada and US and starting to enter other markets. Apart from the two products under the Utiva brand, it has had experience in the areas of temperature care and fertility but now focused in the area of UTIs.

Going forward, it wants to establish its brand in North America and grow its company in India as well as China. Apart from market expansion, it is also looking to launch several new products.

Startups
TNM spoke to ecosystem players, who say there should be better access to funding for startups in their initial stages of growth, assistance in various forms, and more.
  • Friday, December 21, 2018 - 12:19

When KT Rama Rao, Sircilla’s MLA and the son of Telangana Rashtra Samithi K Chandrasekhar Rao became the Minister for Information Technology in 2014, he placed a lot of focus on making Telangana — and more specifically Hyderabad — a startup hub. Various initiatives such as an IT and startup policy, the establishment of startup engine T-Hub, Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH) and a state innovation cell helped put Telangana on the global startup map.

Through these initiatives, the startup activity in Hyderabad and Telangana accelerated, and even saw some global flagship events such as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit come to the country for the first time.

But now with TRS back in power, the question of how the government will work to further improve the startup ecosystem of the state remains. TNM spoke to a few entrepreneurs and ecosystem players to understand what they hope will happen during the TRS government’s second term.

Funding

Mukesh Chandra, the co-founder and CEO of Paymatrix, says that there is a need for more awareness to be created on the availability of funding opportunities for startups in their initial stages of growth.

“While significant funds are earmarked for investments into startups, many of the startups don't know the right channel to reach them. In many cases, the application process is cumbersome and exclusive, so the majority in need are left out. Better presentation of information on the Fund of Funds and the available fundraising opportunities can help,” he says.

Meghana Kambham, founder of health-tech startup CarenGrow shares a similar view. She says that while the government has helped startups in a big way in terms of exposure and mentoring opportunities, funding matters at the end of the day. “The government should invest directly in startups, rather than just promote them. Promotion helps on a very superficial level. Similar to the Andhra Pradesh innovation society, which invests directly in startups, the Telangana government also needs to invest in startups directly, which will help a great deal in their growth,” she says.

Market access

Ashok Reddy, CEO of coupons and deals marketplace GrabOn, differs. He says that the government has given startups access and liberty with respect to funds, which has helped the state grow into one of the country’s biggest technology startup hubs.

“In the coming years, we hope there are more startup policies that are helpful in bringing out new ideas that will lead towards more innovation and economic growth,” he says.

Ramesh Loganathan, Professor of Practice (co-innovations) at IIIT-Hyderabad, who was also the interim Chief Innovation Officer for Telangana before RedBus founder Phanindra Sama took over, also echoes that the government needs to come up with specific initiatives to aggressively enable promising startups in order to ensure market success and rapid growth, as it been sufficiently targeted so far. It will also ensure that many Hyderabad-based startups march towards becoming unicorns.

According to CarenGrow’s Meghana, one of the ways to ensure startups have market access is for the government is award more tenders to startups.

“The government promised this, but it hasn’t been done enough. It still comes down to competing with large companies such as Microsoft which makes them a better option, given there is a criterion of a certain amount of revenue. The government needs to relax this and award more projects to startups and help them work with schools and companies. This gives startups a better reach to the market,” she says.

Umesh Thota, founder of cybersecurity startup Authbase holds the same opinion, and says that there should be a startup inclusion program. “Most startups would love to have government as a customer, except for the fact that the process of putting up a tender is very new and time consuming for them. It would be helpful if there is a startup inclusion program or an open house of startups, where they can showcase solutions for issues that the government or the industry is facing. The rest of the process also should either be fast-tracked or well assisted,” he says.

Availability of talent

Jay Krishnan, partner at Sri Capital and former T-Hub CEO, says there is a need to ensure that there is sufficient supply of quality talent, especially in the tech space.

From a startup point of view, Mukesh from Paymatrix says that most startups still spend a significant amount of time in hiring talent.

“The key challenges in the process are finding the right channel to hire and cost associated with hiring. We do believe that there is great talent in Tier-1 and Tier-2 towns too (apart from the cream talent in the esteemed colleges) who don’t have access to the opportunities floated by the startups,” he says.

Mukesh believes the reasons for this can be the lack of a proper open channel or a knowledge gap.

“Any initiative by the government to democratise the talent repository and sharing easy access to the same to all employers including startups can open up opportunities. There have been initiatives in this regard, but none have manifested into the right model and nor have they got the scale,” he adds.

Assistance

Mukesh also wants the government to assist startups in the safeguard of intellectual property and patent registration. He says that central government initiative Startup India registration at the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) offers a waiver on the application of patents, but the application fee is a very minor amount in comparison to the other charges involved in the patent application process including patent search, consultant fees and re-application fees.

“Even a discussion with patent consultants reveals that benefit to startup in real terms is limited. Streamlining the process, especially with a zone-wise listing of patent consultants and a comprehensive benefits to the latter linked to the completion of patent application and grant, will help,” he adds.

Speaking of assistance, Jay also brings up the issue of angel tax, that is currently a mammoth issue plaguing the startup industry.

“One of the key ingredients in any startup ecosystem is to ensure policies that assist the growth of innovation. Currently, if the draconian angel tax —  albeit a central government issue — is not addressed, it will ensure that startups flee India. Given India’s income tax lens through which startups are penalised and the need to improve tech talent, I’d urge the TRS government to assist startups in these two issues,” he says.

IIIT-H Professor Ramesh also says that while there have been several domain-specific initiatives and national visibility for the startup ecosystem in the state, the next five years will be about creating some deep and visible results from this foundation.

“I feel two areas hold the opportunity to help us become a hub of deep IP and research-based innovation. First is to have some serious initiatives and incentives to seed startups coming out of research, directly from researchers or through support from researchers. With over 25 central government-funded research labs and over five academic institutions of national prominence, we will have amazing startups if there can be some mechanism created to connect this with entrepreneurs and incentivize creating market connected products,” Ramesh says.