Delhi EMERGEOUT Conclave seeks to set new directions for emerging IT companies
Focus on (Indian) opportunities, the hot mobile internet, community building, learning and pain points of startups
The shift to Gurgaon as the venue for the 8th EMERGEOUT Conclave itself signalled the clear intention of NASSCOM EMERGE Forum to reach out to more emerging companies and to quote Mr. Som Mittal, President of NASSCOM, “We came here because Gurgaon has large number of companies.” The Delhi Conclave, hosted in the capital for the fourth time, clearly departed from its earlier focus on emerging opportunities and discussions around what successful ventures did it right. Instead, the focus was on opportunities in India, as evident by the special address of Mr. R. Chandrashekar, Secretary of Telecommunications, Government of India. This apart, Forrester’s Vice President and Practice Leader, Ellen Daley, delivered a keynote on the $37 billion global opportunity for mobile internet and how it is going to set the trends for the whole IT industry itself in the coming years. Sessions with specific focus on operational excellence and workshops that aim to teach real-time lessons on crossing Rs. 10 crores and on hiring the right sales force provided real takeaways for the 500 plus attendees.
Mr. Rajendra Pawar, Chairman of NASSCOM, has change on his agenda during his tenure. He has so far visited 6 cities to elicit views from more than 150 companies. He declared that SMEs (high-growth small companies), IT for India, and skill development are on his to-do list. In Germany, small companies are respected and “small is big” in US IT, whereas still we haven’t reached such a scenario in India. So to cater to majority of NASSCOM members who are the small companies (under Rs. 50 crores in revenues), the Chairman has sought a new direction in specifically addressing pain points (skill development) and opportunities. More than 1000 companies are small companies in NASSCOM membership.
NASSCOM has its vision clearly focused on product companies growing and scaling out of India. A NASSCOM EMERGE Product Group (NEPG) under the stewardship of Sharad Sharma, Chair, NASSCOM Product Forum, has been constituted with evangelists from several product companies in India. These evangelists are successful product entrepreneurs helping the community of product entrepreneurs to make it big. As part of their efforts, a web portal http://www.productsmade.in/, which has listings of more than 700 products developed in the country, was launched by Mr. R. Chandrashekar, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications.
Government, an enabler of inclusive growth through IT and telecom
Mr. R. Chandrashekhar, Secretary to Department of Telecommunications in the government, delivered a keynote on entrepreneurship in the era of passive broadband and finally left a message: “entrepreneurs will drive the ecosystem.” In an elaborate presentation dwelling upon various government initiatives, he said that high GDP growth since economic liberalization has led to non-uniform growth and so inclusive growth is on the government’s agenda, as still 850 million people live in rural areas in the country. He said that skill upgradation of the young is important or India will lose its demographic edge. Pointing out that “The government has realized that IT and telecom would enable positive changes” and they are destiny for nation’s growth, Mr. Chandrashekhar listed policy changes on the anvil: New Telecom Policy 2011, New IT Policy 2011 and not to leave out hardware and electronics, a National Policy on Electronics 2011. Through the national broadband plan, Rs 30,000 crores will be spent in the next three years to provide broadband connectivity to every village in the country. Mobile governance roadmap, Skill Development Mission and e-Health apart from UID are part of government’s agenda in the future. e-Governance Plans that aimed at utility-based approach towards G2C services are also being formulated, he said.
The domestic market opportunities that focus upon local solutions for local problems have succeeded and he listed Nano Ganesh (a remote mobile-enabled on-off switch for motor pumpsets in the agricultural field), m-Gov platform developed by Mob ME in Kerala, and Babajob.com, a website for domestic help and other services. These kind of solutions could become huge drivers of development and government policies can only provide a backdrop to enable such development, Mr. Chandrashekhar felt. In his opinion, entrepreneurs will drive the ecosystem of change and development.
Apps on mobile and the mobile internet would recast IT landscape
Forrester’s Practice Head and Vice President, Ellen Daley, perhaps touched upon the hottest topic in which the IT industry is engrossed at the moment -- mobile internet. The App Internet recast the software and services landscape in that apps on mobile delivered through cloud will result in fundamental changes in the way services are delivered. In 5 to 7 years, mobile internet is set to change the economics of the tech industry, said Ms. Daley. Just giving an example of how apps through cloud services would change the way we read newspapers and magazines, she said ad industry will also see fundamental changes due to cloud services.
Distribution poses more problems than developing an app, said Ms. Daley, adding that smaller players will have enormous opportunities as big players are not nimble enough. The mobile internet is a $37 billion for apps and $13.2 billion for mobile app services opportunity globally by 2015. The need for innovation has pushed developers to crowdsourcing and the enterprise market driven by consumer demands are pushing mobile to new opportunities. Noting that the CFO is also part of IT budget decision making in that cloud services result in huge savings, no longer is the CTO alone drives IT investment decisions, in the new scenario, Ms. Dalley emphasized. (YourStory will bring an exclusive coverage of this keynote in a separate article soon.)
The panel discussion on bootstrapping and angel investing broadly dwelt upon the different view points of panelists on what they did in their own ventures. Upal Basu, MD at Nokia Growth Partners, gave some insightful lessons on getting VC money. He said, “choose a VC only when you need it.” Soumya Meattle, CEO of Module One India, felt that bootstrapping and not raising investor money gave him freedom to do what he wanted and also time to indulge in other activities. Ajay Lavakare, Founder, RMSI, said that more power to the founder is being of late propagated in the Silicon Valley, even if investors put in money in a venture. Ankur Sharma, CEO, TaxSpanner.com, said that angel investors also acted as mentors in his venture. Upal said that it is better to look for both money and advice in form of mentoring, rather than just investment.
The selling your company panel gave a totally different outlook. Sanjay Kamlani, co-CEO of Pangea3, said that right from the beginning, they focused on selling their company eventually and so put in efforts to make it a market leader, excite people about doing great things, and selling when the opportunity was right. This does not mean that the founders have to always take an unattached view because the company is going to be sold some time. Vishwas Mahajan, ex-CEO, Compulink, said they did not build a company to sell but focused on doing the right things to grow the company, which eventually got sold. Harish Bahl, CEO of Smile Group, was a serial entrepreneur and he said selling his venture gave him respectability among his peers. No longer is selling a panic sell, as commonly believed, he said.
(Coverage will be continued in a Part 2 article.)
--Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist