Support ecosystem for startups in early stages is a must and Product Conclave 2010 helps build the ecosystem

4th Oct 2010
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Ramesh Loganathan

Head, Product Development, Progress India and member, organizing team of NASSCOM Product Conclave

I am very happy to see Nasscom Product Conclave team successfully turning the event around to focus as much on product startups and innovation as it does on MNCs and other Indian majors in the product software space. In just 2 years, the conclave has come, quite some ways, away from its erstwhile undesired image of being a “big boys club”. I personally feel very good about this change, given that my passion and serious hobby is to do whatever I can to help startups. My long experience in the software products space (a startup building database server, later Informix, moving to Hyderabad to head engineering at Pramati and now heading product development at Progress India) and specifically working with tech startups helps me bring a perspective to the startup ecosystem. My endeavor is sufficiently supplemented by my serious interest in creating an ecosystem that helps in giving life to new startups. Particularly, educational institutions (being adjunct faculty at IIIT-H and as a core member of the incubation center there) give me a lot of access to students/alumini wanting to startup.

I am from the camp that seriously believes that IT industry is at cross roads where the cost-arbitrage-linked services path is on a rapid decline. And the new opportunity (almost a necessity for long-term survival of the IT industry here) is the innovation-led startups path. Present stats are depressing: that in an industry employing a few million engineers, we have only a few hundred startups. And of these, only a handful are able to make it big. Contrast this with Silicon Valley, where there are probably much lesser number of engineers but probably a few hundred startups established every year (or every month even). The biggest reason for this is that the barriers to entry are high for a new startup in India. And incentives (promise of huge success) do not seem to be great given that we don’t yet have too many startups growing to become very successful and big. This is where the startup ecosystem is very critical, particularly, in the early stage support space. We just have to reduce the barriers/resistance for new startups. I have been running Startup Saturdays at Hyderabad and also few other events and startup support groups. So I know the challenges in fostering this early-stage startup ecosystem. And that’s what makes the startups focus at the Nasscom Product Conclave that much more sweeter for me. The visibility it generates for this space, the excitement and vibrancy it helps create and the immediate value it brings to the entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs in attendance at the event are all just tremendous.

I am also honored to be part of the event program team, under the leadership of Sharad Sharma (NASSCOM Product Forum chair and formerly CEO of Yahoo! R&D). I helped with the event last year also and indulged with the area I feel strongly about—startup ecosystem.

This year, I am helping curate a track on Startup support eco-system: Partners, Co-innovators and Market access. This track is in the realm of large companies collaborating with startups—to bring together leaders from the startup eco-system, SIs and MNCs to discuss the challenges and opportunities for larger companies to partner/support startups. This track would feature a panel discussion followed by two unconference style sessions with startups and support system players.

Ramesh

The panel discussion will be around a new startups/solutions ecosystem being conceived on top of UID’s identity and authentication possibilities and would discuss the huge potential for innovative bottom-of-the-pyramid solutions for the masses. UID already has a vision. And we will bring few innovators that have attempted payment and other solutions around mobile devices and deliberate on the opportunity and the challenges for new startups and solutions in this space. This will be followed by two unconference style sessions that will bring together startups and MNCs/SIs sharing their experiences. The Market access session is on larger companies helping startups in creating and taking products to markets that larger companies are aware of (or have themselves identified). And the Co-Creator is more about enabling actual networking and pairing of larger companies with startups.At the end, the session will have an informal lounge hour where startups and SIs/MNCs can network and explore possible alliances and joint opportunities. This will be result in a formal structure where large companies willing to co-create share their problems with Nasscom. And prior to the event, a match-making exercise is to be taken up to indentify startups that are willing to work on the problems. And at the event, we intend to conclude the process and hopefully strike alliances between the large companies and the startups to co-create.

I am excited to be part of this event. I am looking forward to the event, the deliberations and to getting to know more startups and ecosystem players.

About Ramesh Loganathan

Ramesh Loganathan, VP (Products) and Center Head of Progress Software in India, is responsible for leading the product development at the India Development Center. The development center is organized in a COE (Centre of Expertise) model, where groups own technology horizontals for the company building components for multiple products in each of the horizontals. Present COEs include eclipse-based development tools, web tooling and frameworks and adapters. Apart from providing strategic guidance to all the product teams at PSI, Ramesh also directly drives the Common Technology projects. Prior to Progress, he was the Vice President of Product Engineering and Middleware Technologies at Pramati.

Ramesh has been a Member of several Standards Expert groups (JCP, SPEC) including J2EE 1.3. HE co-founded ebXMLIndia.org and hyd-eclipse.org, and organizes BarCamps and Startup events. He has co-authored a book on SOA Approach to Integration and runs a well read blog http://jroller.com/rameshl. An accomplished technologist and orator, Ramesh is an Adjunct Faculty at IIIT, Hyderabad and regularly delivers workshops and seminars in India.

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