Global Firms Set Sights on In­dian Star­tups for Ideas & Prod­ucts

Top cos to meet over a dozen en­trepreneurs at InTech50 and may choose to in­vest in their ven­tures

The Economic Times - - Companies - Anir­ban.Sen@ times­

Bengaluru: For the bet­ter part of two decades, chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers of some of the world’s largest com­pa­nies such as Gen­eral Elec­tric, Ap­ple and Cit­i­group have looked at In­dia as a low-cost des­ti­na­tion to fuel their back-of­fice soft­ware projects. That nar­ra­tive started to change over the past few years.

Later this week, top ex­ec­u­tives of some of the world’s big­gest tech­nol­ogy buy­ers, in­clud­ing Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp, Col­gatePal­mo­live and telecom gi­ant Bharti Air­tel, will visit Bengaluru and at­tend rapid­fire pitch­ing ses­sions from do­mes­tic soft­ware prod­uct star­tups such as Au­jas, Can­vaz­ify and FarEye.

Af­ter sev­eral years of out­sourc­ing soft­ware devel­op­ment and main­te­nance to In­dia's $160-bil­lion IT in­dus­try, these tech­nol­ogy cus­tomers are start­ing to lever­age In­dia for a dif­fer­ent pur­pose — to meet some of the coun­try’s most in­no­va­tive star­tups.

“In­dia is no longer seen as just a ser­vices econ­omy,” said Piyush Singh, for­mer CIO of Great Amer­i­can In­sur­ance Co and co-chair of the InTech50 event. “A lot of these large For­tune 500 com­pa­nies have moved be­yond lever­ag­ing In- dia for IT sourc­ing and moved on to lever­ag­ing top tech­nol­ogy tal­ent from coun­tries like In­dia.”

As tra­di­tional For­tune 500 com­pa­nies and out­sourc­ing cus­tomers such as Wal­Mart and Tar­get face dis­rup­tion from the emer­gence of new-age, tech-savvy com­peti­tors such as Ama­zon, In­dia is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing an im­por­tant hunt­ing ground for top tech­nol­ogy tal­ent.

Tar­get, Lowe’s and L Brands are in­creas­ingly launch­ing cor­po­rate ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­grammes to tap into lo­cal star­tups with dis­rup­tive new-age ideas and prod­ucts that may help them gain an edge over newer ri­vals.

Over the course of the two-day event in Bengaluru, CIOs will lis­ten to pitches from more than a dozen en­trepreneurs and may choose to in­vest in or sign part­ner­ships with these star­tups. Join­ing the CIOs will be Niti Aayog head Amitabh Kant and In­fosys co-founder Nan­dan Nilekani.

The top three star­tups will also re­ceive an of­fer to join the ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram- me of Sil­i­con Val­ley-based busi­ness ac­cel­er­a­tor Plug and Play, which will then also in­tro­duce the win­ners to po­ten­tial in­vestors in the US. “The top three star­tups — in terms of the rel­e­vance of their prod­ucts to the US mar­ket — will get funded by Plug and Play. Af­ter that these star­tups will get ex­po­sure to at least 30-40 po­ten­tial fun­ders in the US, so as you can see, these star­tups will get a huge amount of ex­po­sure to take their ideas to the next level,” said Singh.

Singh, how­ever, added that the emer­gence of ecom­merce star­tups in In­dia over the past five years had taken some sheen away from In­dia’s emerg­ing soft­ware prod­uct startup ecosys­tem. “Ecom­merce has sucked away a lot of fund­ing that oth­er­wise could have gone to some of these promis­ing prod­ucts of star­tups, which is a lit­tle un­for­tu­nate. That be­ing said, what we also see is the fact that In­dian prod­ucts star­tups are start­ing to get trac­tion from new kinds of an­gel in­vestors, which is a good sign,” said Singh.


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