For Indian startups, there’s ‘no better partner’ than Reliance Jio, says Mukesh Ambani
Indian startups hold a ‘very special place in our hearts,’ and there’s ‘no better partner’ for them than Jio, Reliance Industries’ digital arm, Chairman Mukesh Ambani said at the company’s first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM).
“We are well-positioned to help Indian startups in a number of ways - whether it be in technology development, product development, distribution, market access, or even scale-up capital,” Ambani said.
Calling Indian startups, Reliance’s ‘brother-in-arms’, the head of the multi-billion-dollar Indian conglomerate said the company’s startup partners have contributed significantly to its strengths across multiple industry verticals and ecosystems that hold the power to achieve a 360-degree digital transformation of India.
“We are inviting even more startups to join forces with us. We are ready to integrate them into our roadmap and to help them reach their full potential,” Ambani said.
Reliance will also work with other Indian companies, including startups, to vigorously promote 'Made-in-India', 'Made-for-India' and 'Made-for-the-World' products, he said.
In FY 2019-20, Reliance supported 27 startups. In addition, more than $100 million was raised in funding during the period by startups it mentored through JioGenNext – Reliance’s startup-focused division.
Since it was founded in 2013, Reliance’s JioGenNext startup accelerator has been a strong catalyst in empowering India’s startup ecosystem. Based on the pillars of talent, technology, and trust, JioGenNext has been working to spot and encourage 'talent'; help them harness their 'technology'; and support them with complete 'trust'.
The programme helps startups build their business through a two-stage approach, which involves intensive mentoring, followed by a PoC with RIL/Jio. The programme tracks the startup’s progress for a potential acquisition/strategic investment or a commercial partnership as the startup scales up.
Reliance Jio-startups knowledge coalition
Just a few decades ago, Reliance itself was a startup, Ambani said. Now, Jio, as a less than four-year-old company, is still very much startup, he added.
Jio Platforms, along with its more than 20 startup partners, has been instrumental in building world-class capabilities in several cutting-edge technologies, Ambani said.
These include 4G and 5G technologies, cloud computing, devices and operating systems, big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, virtual and mixed reality, blockchain, natural language understanding, and computer vision.
“We believe that this would be the true measure of success for Jio – to create a mighty Knowledge Coalition that solves Indian problems and opens the doors for many more companies from India to step successfully on to the global stage,” Ambani said.
Over the years, JioGenNext has mentored 11 batches comprising 136 startups across multiple verticals, by helping them scale up, get market access, and raise capital. Of the 11 batches, three were theme-based cohorts – two in fintech space and one driving digital innovation in the SMB/Enterprise segment.
At the AGM, Ambani and Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a joint announcement that the search giant is investing Rs 33,737 crore for a 7.7 percent stake in Jio, making Google the second-largest minority shareholder in the company after Facebook.