Key takeaways from Piyush Goyal, Steve Wozniak, Girish Mathrubootham, and more: All you need to know from Day 1 of TechSparks 2021

The day began with a keynote address by Piyush Goyal, Honorable Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Govt. of India on what it will take to make India future ready.

YourStory's TechSparks 2021, with the theme “What’s Next: Rethinking the Future”, kicked off today in grand fashion with a stellar lineup of prominent entrepreneurs, business leaders, global icons, and changemakers from India and beyond.

The day began with a keynote address by Piyush Goyal, Honorable Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Govt. of India, and the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, on what it will take to make India future-ready.

Steve Wozniak, Co-founder, Apple, Woz U, Efforce; Girish Mathrubootham, Founder and CEO, Freshworks; Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Co-founder, Info Edge; Puneet Chandok, President, AWS, India and South Asia (AISPL); Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU'S; Cal Henderson, Co-founder and CTO, Slack Technologies, Inc., and more came together at the virtual event to rethink the future of India and the future of everything.

In case you missed it, here's the top action from Day 1 of TechSparks 2021:

India's startup story still in its infancy

Piyush Goyal, Honourable Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food, Public Distribution, and Textiles, Government of India, said India’s startup story is still in its nascent stages.

He added, “With nearly 70 unicorns today in India, of which almost 90 percent have become unicorns after 2015, we really believe that our startup story is still in its infancy. It has huge potential to grow and makes us proud."

He credited the spurt in India’s startup ecosystem to an attitudinal shift among India’s younger generation, which is no longer satisfied with job opportunities but would rather chart their own destiny and own their ideas, talent, and businesses.

Innovation lies at the heart of this common dream.

Read the full story here.

Piyush Goyal, Honourable Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food, Public Distribution, and Textiles, Government of India

Steve Wozniak at TechSparks 2021

"I told my father that I would rather have a computer than a home," said Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple, Woz U, and Efforce, at TechSparks 2021, adding that his entrepreneurial journey was driven by a strong sense of "revolution that people would have their own computer one day, and not just the corporations."

Wozniak also shared his areas of interest related to the impact of emerging tech on human life, explaining that he is intrigued by how tech is used to build better, more secure processes, eliminate spam, work on Internet of Things, robotics, quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence, and more.

He said if he could have the world remember him for anything, it would be his brains. More than big money or big power, he hopes engineers appreciate him for his intelligence and his work.

Read the full story here.

The hard work starts now

Freshworks' recent NASDAQ listing signalled a new dawn for homegrown startups and heralded a new era for the Indian startup ecosystem. But for Founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham, the IPO is just the beginning.

“For us, it’s about keeping our heads down, focusing on execution and continuing to grow,” he said. As someone who does not believe in resting on his laurels, Girish says he and his team are building new solutions to stay relevant.

“I think every quarter, founders have to step back and see where the industry is going and listen to their customers — what are their problems, can you solve for existing customers or can you replace the tools they are using today…” he said.

Read the full story here.

Freshworks Founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham

Why work will never be the same

Cal Henderson, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at business communication platform Slack, said work is never going to feel the same as before, with changes accelerated by the pandemic and adoption of technology.

He predicted the hybrid workspace will be more distributed, with organisations moving towards greater collaboration and transparency.

“We are also going to spend a lot of time in person with our co-workers, but in a way that feels different... spending time doing collaborative work, not just sitting next to each other on desks, doing individual work," he said, reiterating that new work infrastructure was likely to continue over the next decade.

Read the full story here.

It boils down to what customers want

Entrepreneur and investor Sanjeev Bikhchandani has created one of the oldest internet companies — Info Edge, which runs,,, and

At TechSparks 2021, Sanjeev shared nuggets from his three-decade-long iconic journey, explaining what propelled him to park his money in startups which were mere ideas with high ambitions. 

“There is a filter,” said Sanjeev. “It all boils down to what the customers want and what you as a startup are trying to solve for them.” He also explained the importance of the strength of the team behind the startup and focussing on value creation over valuation.

Read the full story here.

Sanjeev Bhikchandani in conversation with YourStory Founder & CEO, Shradha Sharma

A performance-driven, tech-enabled India

Puneet Chandok, President, AWS, India and South Asia (AISPL), said the discontinuities of the past year have driven three big shifts and paved the path for a New World, which is more dynamic, real, and unpredictable than ever.

“The first shift is about India. And I call this the shift from an India of potential to an India of performance. The second shift is around technology — the shift from state-of-the-art technology to simple technology. And then the third one is more personal. It's about leadership,” revealed Puneet.

Read the full story here.

The world has become a classroom

Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU’S, a leader in the Indian edtech space, heralded the golden age of teachers, and said:

“Teachers have always played an integral part in shaping our future and in shaping a country’s future. Yet for the most part, it has remained underappreciated. Teachers themselves underestimate the impact which they create on their students. Now, technology is playing an important role in boosting the earning potential of teachers. The world has become a classroom today."

Referencing the trend of BYJU's acquisitions, he also advised startups on honing and retaining the organic cultures of companies and their existing DNAs so as not to defeat the purpose of acquisition.

Read the full story here.

Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU’S

What's next for India at 75?

Nivruti Rai, Country Head of Intel India and VP of Intel Foundry Services; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Founder of Biocon; Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals and Divya Gokulnath, Director and Co-founder of BYJU’S, in a joint session, decoded what’s next for India at 75 while simultaneously making the case for the need of greater diversity in leadership.

The key topics from the session included the growing importance of AI and Industrial IoT, how Indians can unleash the potential of AI and become an AI superpower, how the COVID-19 pandemic brought the strength of India’s science and technology muscle to the forefront, how the nation is creating a healthy medical innovation ecosystem and the potential for edtech startups to empower women.

Read the full story here.

Project Nakshatra for Indian startups

SAP India launched its new initiative, 'Project Nakshatra' for Indian startups, with Kulmeet Bawa, MD and President, SAP Indian Subcontinent, making an announcement about the project on Day 1 of TechSparks 2021.

SAP is looking at Project Nakshatra to help startups and digital natives prepare for hyper-growth, help them build products for scale as well as go global. The startups will get a byte-size starter pack that has been created keeping in mind the changing landscape, and will be able to generate and realise more value and undertake co-innovation and collaboration.

Read the full story here.

Kulmeet Bawa, Managing Director & President, SAP Indian Subcontinent

To log in to our virtual events platform and experience TechSparks 2021 with thousands of other startup-tech enthusiasts from around the world, join here. Don't forget to tag #TechSparks2021 when you share your experience, learnings and favourite moments from TechSparks 2021.

For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta