Many entrepreneurs were excited by the announcements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the Startup India Action Plan. There’s no doubt the measures were significant, but they do beg the question, are all the startups really eligible for the benefits that were announced?
Here’s a quick analysis of the eligibility criteria(please note that the following flow chart is specifically applicable for startups seeking tax exemption):
In addition, for a startup to be recognized as one,
a. be supported by a recommendation (with regard to innovative nature of business), in a format specified by DIPP, from an incubator established in a post-graduate college in India; or
b. be supported by an incubator which is funded (in relation to the project) from GoI as part of any specified scheme to promote innovation; or
c. be supported by a recommendation (with regard to innovative nature of business), in a format specified by DIPP, from an incubator recognized by GoI; or
d. be funded by an Incubation Fund/Angel Fund/Private Equity Fund/Accelerator/Angel Network duly registered with SEBI* that endorses innovative nature of the business; or
e. be funded by the Government of India as part of any specified scheme to promote innovation; or
f. have a patent granted by the Indian Patent and Trademark Office in areas affiliated with the nature of business being promoted.
* DIPP may publish a ‘negative’ list of funds which are not eligible for this initiative.
One of the eligibility criteria states that “The product or service should be a new one or a significantly improved version of existing services or products.”
Let’s take the example of startups who are engaged in creating and developing online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon. So a new startup engaged in the same field may not be eligible unless its product is significantly improved than what existing players provide.
Another eligibility criteria states that the startup should get a recommendation letter from the recognized incubator cell or be recognized by the GoI or should be funded by recognized funds. Now this will be quite a task for startups.
In our estimate, going by these criteria, roughly 60% of existing startups could be rendered ineligible for the Startup India plan.