Indian entrepreneurs showcase their technology products start-ups on global platforms

11 Nov

The debate on why India’s technology services powerhouses have not blazed a similar trail in the product space is one that has engaged multiple forums. But as services turned into multi-billion dollar businesses these discussions petered out – until a whole new breed of Indian entrepreneurs began to showcase their technology products on global platforms.

From just a handful of ventures like Tally Solutions and Subex Technologies, the Indian product story now has a cast of new players such as enterprise software maker Zoho, mobile advertising technology company InMobi, Mango Technologies and younger upstarts such as MobStac. These firms are creating products for a wide variety of sectors like mobility, small and medium businesses, e-commerce, education, consumer and government.

Despite being dwarfed in size by the mammoth $76-billion software services industry, the product companies in India earn $2 billion in revenue from 2,400 firms, according to Indian IT trade body Nasscom. Over 1,100 software product start-ups have come up just in the last five years.

“India’s software product story is booming, I can see it now after a long time,” said accounting software firm Tally’s founder Bharat Goenka, who was accorded the inaugural lifetime achievement award at the Nasscom Product Conclave, held in Bangalore on November 9 and 10.

The conclave was a buzz of activity with product entrepreneurs rushing between sessions and workshops on subjects ranging from market opportunities in Africa to pitching to angel investors.

It offered an opportunity for entrepreneurs of fledgling start-ups to interact with industry experts and investors, like Valley investor and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, entrepreneur and academician Vivek Wadhwa, Walmart’s Senior Vice-President Anand Rajaraman and global software venture Intuit’s CEO Brad Smith.

“What is interesting is that around 70% of the entrepreneurs are below the age of 35. They have terrific self confidence and are filled with effervescence and ebullience,” said Rajendra S Pawar, chairman of Nasscom and co-founder and chairman of the NIIT Group, which runs training and software and services companies in the world.

Indian software product businesses have recorded an impressive revenue growth of 22% over the last five years, said Sharad Sharma, chair at Nasscom product forum.

While the cost of setting up a product start-up has gone down significantly due to technologies such as cloud and mobility, industry experts say product entrepreneurs continue to be risk averse. Besides, funding and tapping new markets still remain key challenges.

“Sometimes entrepreneurs in India are afraid to fail. The willingness to fail is the key ingredient to success. And when you screw up, one must not give up,” said billionaire venture capital investorVinod Khosla.

Khosla believes entrepreneurship is about doing surprising and unreasonable things. Also entrepreneurs need not to listen to experts, but create their own invention and markets.

“Nobody had predicted about Facebook or Twitter,” he said.

India Emerging profiles ten product start-ups, recognised at the Nasscom Product Conclave, who are on the path to firmly establish India as the product hub of the world.


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