ETUnWired and ETILC organized “Innovative Start-ups in India: Success Stories and Synergy with Big Tech” powered by NTT DATA, which delved into how startups and large companies can mutually benefit from each other. The panelists included Dr Harsh Vinayak, Senior Vice President, Intelligent Automation & Data Services, NTT DATA Services; Devesh Trivedi, CEO & Co-Founder, Inspektlabs; Mrinal Pai, Co-Founder, Skylark Drones and Saket Modi, CEO & Co-founder, Safe Security.
In the last 30 years, much has changed in the startup ecosystem in India. Young engineers who graduated in the 80s did not consider starting up their own businesses at that time because there was little monetary support to do so. The only option to start a business was to take a loan from a bank and that was hard to secure for the average citizen. Most students from premier institutes either preferred to go abroad for masters courses or to take jobs with the large firms in India. “There is an ecosystem that supports startups now and there are real examples of what successful startups can do in India, the kind of impact they can make. This is why it is now much easier to set up one’s own enterprise now compared to 20-30 years ago,” says Saket Modi, CEO & Co-founder, Safe Security.
“All stakeholders have now realized how important it is for startups to succeed for the economy to grow. This is why both the government and even private companies invest heavily in startups, supporting them with both monetary funding and advice especially in the early stages,” says Dr Harsh Vinayak, Senior Vice President, Intelligent Automation & Data Services, NTT DATA Services. NTT spends $3.6 billion dollars every year in R&D alone and also runs NTT Ventures to partner with startups so that they can quickly bring their innovations to customers. “Our client requirements are best met by a combination of in-house technology services and outside innovations. These transformative technologies often come from startups,” adds Dr. Vinayak.
The way computer vision technology platform, Inspektlabs, has grown is by partnering with larger firms. This served two purposes. One, larger firms could expand their offerings and two, Inspektlabs could get a distribution partner and buyer. NTT DATA itself has recently served a large health insurance client with an innovative RPA and voice recognition solution by partnering with a startup. “The reason startups are succeeding today is because they’re really able to solve a problem that is crucial to the customer in a very agile way. However, what a young company won’t have is the trust of the customer in terms of brand value or reach. Larger companies are no longer assessing startups just by bottom line and top line, they are exploring other ways of partnership and it’s truly a win-win situation,” says Saket Modi, CEO & Co-founder, Safe Security.
Drone analytics platform, Skylark Drones, a 5.5 year old startup pivoted quickly from the business of providing hardware of drones to making sense of the data that drones collected, because that was the bigger customer need. It is this ability to transform quickly that makes startups thrive.
Many tech startups in India often build their product in India but choose to sell it abroad because currently the markets are bigger abroad. For all three startups Skylark Drones, Safe Security and Inspektlabs, their major clients are in the North American and European markets.
For startups to establish trust with large buyers, the biggest struggle is always the first five clients. One has to get on board big brands as clients that the market trusts or has to partner with large companies who can recommend them to their clients. For this, the product should be good and the startup should offer it for testing to potential clients and partners.