Independence Day: 75 quotes on startup opportunities and challenges in India

The glass is half full – or is it half empty? On the occasion of India’s 75th Independence Day, we present 75 quotes on startup prospects as well as social and business challenges.
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Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a weekly feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our past articles. This special compilation of quotes focuses on India’s startup boom, pandemic resilience, ecosystem shifts, and the need for more balance. Share these 75 gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

Startup boom

2020s is the decade of startups. - Akhil Handa, Bank of Baroda

The year 2021 will go down in history as the year India’s tech IPO story started. - Anup Jain, Orios Venture Partners

India will create $500 billion in new wealth by 2025 and $1 trillion by 2030 from the startup revolution. - Sandeep Agarwal, Droom

The [Indian SaaS industry] growth continues unabated at a pace of ~51 percent CAGR, making the possibility of it becoming a trillion-dollar-valued industry by 2030, a strong reality. - Chiratae Ventures and Zinnov report

By 2025, Indian startups are likely to create 1.6 million jobs. The ecosystem’s role is going to be critical to determine the success rate of startups in the country. - Aishwarya Kalakata, Flipkart

Currently, India has become a 100-unicorn economy and around 300 startups are in the soonicorn stage. - Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, Venture Catalysts

Indian techpreneurs are ‘building in India, for the world,’ which we believe will be one of the biggest trends to watch. - Rajiv Srivatsa, Antler India

While we are the third-largest in terms of size, the Indian startup ecosystem hovers around the twenties in terms of rankings. - Sijo Kuruvila George, Alliance of Digital India Foundation

Whether it is startups or venture funds, there has been overwhelming interest from global institutions into investing in India. - Anurag Ramdasan, 3one4 Capital

Money will continue to circulate in the Indian startup ecosystem as founders/CXOs plough back money. All of this is only good news for the startup founder going forward. - Sajith Pai, Blume Ventures

International stock exchange listings will also help raise the profile of Indian startups, helping them compete on a global stage with startups from other countries. - Letter by startup founders

India is uniquely positioned to capitalise on and propel the SaaS revolution to even greater heights. - Pari Natarajan, Zinnov

Historically, we have been a conservative market where profitability is a must for three to five years to go public. A lot of those norms have been relaxed by SEBI. - Devang Mehta, Anthill Ventures

IPO is not actually the end goal; it is the beginning of an entire journey in the public market stream. - Siddarth Pai, 3one4 Capital

Ecommerce and retail transformation

Today, India houses over 800 D2C brands which have garnered immense interest from the VC community. - Ashvin Chadha, Anicut Angel Fund

India is at the cusp of a D2C revolution with an estimated market size of $200 billion in the next five years. Indian brands have shown great promise in recent years. - Vikas Agnihotri, SoftBank Investment Advisers

D2C commerce forms roughly 15 percent of the overall ecommerce market in India; this is projected to grow to 30-35 percent in the next five years. - Saahil Goel, Shiprocket

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the D2C business model created a win-win situation for sellers and buyers. - Yash Jain, NimbusPost

The opportunity to take small businesses online is the next big ecommerce wave. - Nakul Kumar, Cashify

With the use of technology, kirana stores are delivering quality products with ease. This reiterates the fact that future kirana stores will be connected, digital, and engaging. - Prasanna Kumar, VilCart

The crucial MSME sector

India has about 50 million SMEs, employing 110 million people and adding half a trillion in gross contributions to the GDP. This makes it the second-largest SME concentration in the world after China. - Sanjay Dangi, Authum Investment and Infrastructure

The MSME segment is the backbone of the Indian economy, and for us to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025, ensuring the growth of this sector is paramount. - Kshitij Puri, ZipLoan

In India, there are 65 million small businesses across the country, and not more than 8-9 percent of them have any form of organised finance. - Mahesh Dayani, SBFC Finance

Only 0.5 percent of micro-businesses can scale up and graduate to the next level in India, while the comparative figures for China and the USA are at 25 percent and 45 percent, respectively. - Amit Kumar, MSMEx

Indian SMEs are unique in their entrepreneurial spirit. We are witnessing a reinvention where many of them are getting transformed as a digital business. - Amit Agarwal, Amazon India

MSME upskilling is a major white space and has the potential to dramatically improve the productivity and profitability of millions of MSMEs in India. - Vaibhav Domkundwar, Better Capital

SMBs in India have been severely impacted with the uncertainties of start-stop lockdowns, unreliable cash flows, and disrupted supply chains. The pandemic forced SMBs to accelerate digital adoption and ensure business continuity. - Ketan Sabnis, Kylas

Health and the pandemic era

Achieving universal vaccination at the earliest, is the only long-term solution to the COVID-19 pandemic and its evolving variants. - Sandeep Chachra, ActionAid India

Mass vaccination is India's topmost and urgent priority now. It is the most reliable way out of this crisis. - Nita Ambani, Reliance Foundation

Rural India continues to struggle in coping with the pandemic, and is now also struggling with vaccine registrations. - Sonu Sood, COVREG

As the pandemic continues, people have become more heedful towards their well-being and there is a need for sustainable personalised wellness. - VVSN Raju, SucSEED Indovation Fund

Growth prospects in India have been downgraded following the severe second COVID wave during March-May and expected slow recovery in confidence from that setback. - IMF

During the pandemic, skilled musicians and trained artists did not have a way to monetise their talent. - Lakshminarayana Yeluri, Muzigal

The pandemic exposed India’s inadequate medical infrastructure that existed for years. In a country of 1.3 billion people, around 75 percent of the healthcare infrastructure is focused in urban areas, making basic facilities inaccessible to rural areas. - Vishal Jain, Inspira

Blue-collar workers, gig workers, migrant workers, and the destitute and slum dwellers who barely had any money to afford a square meal, were most impacted. - Suyash Jain, COVID-19 Free Jobs Forum

The pandemic has widened the social gap, especially with everything going digital. Unfortunately, many students of government schools do not have access to a smartphone or tablet, and this puts them at a serious disadvantage. - Students of Pallikoodam School

Women’s health, particularly in a country like India which has cultural taboos about menstrual health, has been neglected for far too long. - Vindi Singh Banga, Banga family office

India significantly lags behind its peers in the usage and adoption of personal and disposable hygiene products, a stark difference, which was further accentuated with the devastating impact of the pandemic. - Amit Varma, Quadria Capital

Nearly 75 percent of our population is from rural India and they believe in curative healthcare approach instead of preventative. And that's a big problem. - Partha Pratim Das, EzeRx

Roughly about 25 percent of global TB cases exist in India, and we have both forms of the disease - pulmonary and extrapulmonary. - Sushil Mehta, NGIVD

Today’s youngsters see an early onset of diabetes in many cases despite their lifestyle. The only way to prevent this is to ensure that their lifestyle does not aggravate this condition. - Nalini Saligram, Arogya World

We must leverage data left behind by the storm of the second wave to save lives in the third. That is the brightest way forward. - Manas Agrawal, Affine

It is not possible to be emotionally detached. Being empathetic and emotional makes much good happen in this world. Please be moved by it. - Azim Premji, Azim Premji Foundation

Fintech and Edtech

We are the world’s largest cash economy and an ATM-deficient country at the same time. The current cash withdrawal mechanisms are inadequate to satisfy the extensive demand for cash across the country. - Amit Narang, PayMart

Wealth management in the country needs to be democratised, embraced, and adopted by all. = Varun Sridhar, Paytm Money

Considering India has nearly 900 million debit card users, recurring payments have the potential to become the norm in the country, especially as subscription-based services increase. - Shashank Kumar, Razorpay

We have 60 million small businesses (SMBs) according to the government, but only 15 percent of them have access to formal credit. And out of those 15 percent, 99 percent of businesses don’t have access to credit at the right price. - Meghna Suryakumar, Crediwatch

We are in a midst of an edtech revolution, and the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in education overnight. - Azmal Jaleel, Pearl Investment

Around 100 million students from middle- and lower-income families, especially from Tier-II and Tier-III cities are seeking upskilling and cross-skilling opportunities. - Pradeep K Jaisingh, IAN

The annual spend on college fees in India is around $50 billion or Rs 3.5+ lakh crore, of which only five percent is financed by organised lenders. - SK Narvar, Capital India

Education is a serious business. Every year, parents spend millions of dollars to find excellent schools, coaching institutes, and counsellors for their children. - Vinay Bansal, Inflection Point Ventures

The edtech market has seen a lot of ’noise’ since COVID-19, with many brands purely launching services just to capitalise on the sudden move to online education. - Manish Karani, MVK Group

Digital transformation

In 2004, the Indian Railways started with online ticketing, but the system was crashing at just 6,000 tickets a day. Now, it has the capacity to handle more than 2 million tickets per day. - Nagendra Kumar Raja, TejaSoft Innovations

Digitisation has provided an impetus to the start-up ecosystem in India. - Amitabh Kant, Niti Aayog

The covid pandemic has increased focus on reducing touchpoints and digitisation is the way to go. - Vikrant Varshney, SucSEED Indovation Fund

Skilled-based careers such as health IT professionals that will develop the working and operations of the telemedicine network are on the rise. - Munira Loliwala, TeamLease Digital

In the last five years, on account of the growth in digital infrastructure coupled with the availability of leading titles, India’s online gaming segment is now a serious business with the gaming market being overwhelmingly mobile-first. - Satya Easwaran, KPMG

The online casual gaming sub-segment in India has emerged as the largest in terms of consumption among overall online gaming, with close to 420 million gamers engaging in online casual gaming in FY21. - Girish Menon, KPMG India

Challenges and opportunities

It’s necessary for our startup ecosystem to have more women so that there is inclusive growth. Supporting companies that have a woman in key decision-making roles is also important to bring about a cultural shift in the ecosystem at large. - Vani Kola, Kalaari Capital

With just one in five MSMEs being run by women, India is losing out on the globally proven superiority of women-led business. - Akshay Soni, The/Nudge Accelerator

India generates 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which 40 percent remains uncollected and ends up choking drains, rivers, piling up landfills, etc. - Harini Sivakumar, Earth Rhythm

The auto repair industry has been in dire need of a tech-enabled player to handle the lack of trust and high cost of repair and service. - Vivek Sharma, Fixcraft

Our country’s logistics cost is 14 percent; in other countries of the world, the cost is around 8 percent. We are 6 percent more inefficient as compared to the world. - Amit Saraogi, Anmol Feeds

Findings reveal that compared to the rest of the world, consumers in India are more likely to be targeted, less inclined to ignore scam interactions, and as a result, lose more money. - Mary Microsoft

Decentralised and customised [cold storage] solutions, keeping in mind the local needs, are ideal for a vast and diverse country like ours with different climatic zones. - Sujit Kumar Gopinathan, CInI

As India moves towards carbon neutrality and mass adoption of EV and ESS (energy storage system), it is crucial to become an energy-independent nation. - Mahesh Godi, GODI Energy

Ayurveda has been vulnerable to the problem of substandard medicines and very low digital adoption. - Ram N Kumar, NirogStreet

The Ayurveda economy will be really large and more brands coming into the space will increase its adoption. - Param Bhargava, The Ayurveda Co.

Animal husbandry and aquaculture sector in India is underserved and highly fragmented. - Prasanna Manogaran, Aqgromalin

The creator economy is experiencing an inflection point around the world and across market segments like India. - Vaibhav Domkundwar, Better Capital

The ever-increasing fuel prices combined with the perspective of EVs being technologically superior and the future of automobiles has helped push the sale of EVs in India. - Mihir Mohan, Pitstop

India has the opportunity and potential to become the world leader in EVs. - Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola

Indian agriculture is at an inflection point. The $370 billion sector will undergo a complete transformation in the coming years on the back of significant technology interventions, regulatory support and behavioral changes across consumers and farmers. - Parijat Jain, Bain & Co

India is the world's second-largest agriculture market and we produce more than 110 million tons of fruits every year. However, we see broken supply chains, massive wastage gluts, and shortages both geographically and over time. - Shobhit Gupta, Superplum

The road ahead

Employability is a very big challenge among Tier-II, Tier-III, and rural youth in India. That, however, presents a major opportunity. - Pradeep Jai Singh, IAN

Over 67 percent of India’s millennials are gamers. The Indian esports and streaming industry is expected to grow at a 36 percent CAGR over the next three years, with game streaming watch time in India already 2X the global average. -  Sean Hyunil Sohn, Krafton

Colleges are the hotbed of innovations. Several institutes these days have started entrepreneurship-focused courses, proving that India is fast emerging as the land of startups. - Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, 9Unicorns

The [IT] industry continues to be a net hirer of skilled talent, adding 1,38,000 people in FY2021. - Nasscom

India has no dearth of good ideas; the challenge is to identify promising innovators, help them develop their ideas further, and give them a platform for presenting their ideas to potential investors. - Jeyandran Venugopal, Flipkart

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).


YourStory’s flagship startup-tech and leadership conference will return virtually for its 13th edition on October 25-30, 2021. Sign up for updates on TechSparks or to express your interest in partnerships and speaker opportunities here.

For more on TechSparks 2021, click here.

Applications are now open for Tech30 2021, a list of 30 most promising tech startups from India. Apply or nominate an early-stage startup to become a Tech30 2021 startup here

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