It was a weekend of sun, fun and funds as VC representatives from around the world gathered at the Startup India Global VC Summit in Goa. The two-day event saw global fund managers, venture capitalists and ecosystem partners from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the United States in attendance with representation from the investors, the government, academia, media, enterprise and entrepreneurs.
A joint initiative by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the Government of Goa, the theme for the event was 'Mobilizing Global Capital for Innovation in India', with an aim to showcase startup opportunities which can, in turn, attract global capital to the Indian market.
The focus of the summit was on the return-generating potential of India’s vast and diverse market monetised through cutting-edge technologies and supported by investor-friendly regulations. Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, was optimistic about the India growth story saying, "The worst is over and best is yet to come."
“There is no market, which is as exciting as India. This is a new phase in India’s growth story,” Prabhu said, inviting investors to participate in this story. According to him every sector is set to experience phenomenal growth. Noting the drive of infrastructure creation in the country under the Narendra Modi-led government, Prabhu said this was a dire need for such a large country.
The Indian funding ecosystem has evolved significantly over the past three years, with funds raised increasing steadily. In the last three years alone, $29.2 billion dollars have been invested in the Indian startup ecosystem across equity and debt funding. This year alone, the number is close to $11 billion. Investors are taking pole positions in companies that are well established and have a proven ability to scale. In 2018 itself, of the 712 equity funding deals, 32 had an investment size of $100 million or more.
VCs are now very clear about where they want to place their bets, exits are on the rise, and a new breed of investors from the East are making their presence felt like never before. What has been a defining trend this year is the entry of foreign fund houses, specifically from China, Japan and South Korea. So far, much of the capital raised by Indian startups had come from the US. But that has changed this year with Chinese investors showing a great deal more interest in Indian startups.
Goa is a preferred holiday destination in India, and now with the recent impetus from the government, it is emerging as an important startup ecosystem too.
The state has big plans for growth, and a single-minded vision of making Goa a top startup destination in Asia by 2025. There is a massive thrust on facilitating entrepreneurship and enterprise to nurture growth, and create value and jobs. Goa has been a preferred destination, because of its unique talent pool, high GDP, and good literacy rate. And now with revised policies and schemes, it’s re-inventing itself as an important startup ecosystem.
Our aim is to galvanise the startup ecosystem and give it the support it needed to grow and become not only one of India’s most vibrant hubs but also feature among the top 25 destinations for early-stage startups in Asia by 2025. It is our mission to see at least 100 early-stage ventures succeed over the next five years through this policy.
Shri. Manohar Parrikar
Honourable Chief Minister of Goa
The government has been serious about nurturing the ecosystem and it shows. The Department of Information Technology, Government of Goa, in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Nucleus Vision, also hosted India’s first-ever International Blockchain Congress on August 5, 2018 in Goa. The event brought together world-renowned blockchain experts and thought leaders to deliberate on how India can be made the next blockchain capital of the world.
Leading Goa’s engagement initiative is Rohan Khaunte, the state’s Minister for Revenue, Information Technology and Labour & Employment, who also delivered a keynote at the summit where he compared Goa's culture with the culture of startups. Rohan has also been championing technology to drive economic growth as well as bring in greater transparency in governance.
An ardent believer in the power of startups and businesses as growth catalysts, Rohan said, “We have always seen businesses not just as revenue per square feet but employment per square feet. We want our youth to be job providers and not just job seekers. We are also looking at businesses to add value beyond just generating employment. We believe they have the expertise and capability to upskill which can further boost the job economy in the state.”
We are also approaching our vision with the spirit of collaboration. With an entrepreneur community-based approach, our policy is an industry-friendly scheme formulated by talking to people in the industry.
Shri. Rohan Khaunte
Minister for Information, Revenue, Labour & Employment, Government of Goa
“To place Goa on a long-term double-digit growth trajectory on startup investment, we are ready to bring changes in our startup policy based on investors’ needs. The investors will assess the state startup policy and if they want any change then we will do so.” Khaunte stated.
During the summit, he also met key ecosystem partners to understand how the government could up its entrepreneurship-friendly quotient. Neera Inamdar, Head of Business Development at iVentures, who met the minister said, “The change in the perspective of the government and its collaborative approach to improve the ecosystem can help tremendously. We see the government taking an initiative to understand what companies really need. Also, getting out of the metros and showcasing a state like Goa, where things are changing, brings a new state’s efforts into perspective and expands on India’s vast entrepreneurial landscape.”
Happy with the conversations, collaboration and connections catalysed by the summit, Suresh Prabhu announced that Goa will be a permanent venue to host Startup India Global Venture Capital Summit every year on the first Friday of December. It was a decision acknowledged as much needed and a step in the right direction, by all ecosystem partners.
As the sun set on the summit in Goa, it marked the dawn of possibilities for the venture capital ecosystem for India.