India is youngest startup nation with 72% founders below 35 years: Nirmala Sitharaman

Start-ups are the next big economic force in India, the world’s youngest startup nation with 72% founders below 35 years of age, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Saturday.

“Start-ups are the next big economic force in India. Close to 4,400 technology startups exist in India and the number is expected to reach over 12,000 by 2020. India is the world’s youngest start-up nation with 72% founders less than 35 years,” Sitharaman said at the Start-up India states’ conference.

India has been pegged at third place behind US and Britain in terms of the number of start-ups. “Government is committed to make Start-up India initiative a scalable reality and to provide an environment for our start-ups to thrive in. Through the initiative, we want to ensure that the momentum is accelerated. We are determined to make it a start-up revolution,” she said.

“The government will facilitate to ensure that world’s best start-up ecosystem is in India,” she added. The government has operationalised the Start-up India Hub on April 1, 2016 to resolve queries and to provide hand-holding support to start-ups.

The hub has catered to more than 13,500 queries received from start-ups through telephone, email and Twitter, she added.

Unitus launches second fund of $50 million, to fund 50 startups

Unitus Seed Fund is launching a second fund of $50 million (Rs 340 crore) focused on India. The fund will invest the amount in around 50 startups with each company receiving between Rs 1 crore and Rs 3 crore. The fund invests in startups based on their potential impact in sectors like education, healthcare, fintech and agriculture.

The first fund of the Bengaluru-based investment firm was $23 million and its investors included Bill Gates’ Gates Foundation, Ranjan Pai, Mohandas Pai and others. Most of the participants in the first fund are also expected to invest in the second fund. It has almost fully deployed the first fund, which was established in 2012. Unitus expects to get the first tranche of the new fund by the third quarter of the calendar year.

“At a time when there is a pullback by some investors, it is important that we have money to help our companies survive with follow-on funding,” Will Poole, co-founder and managing partner of Unitus, told PTI. He added that the investment firm’s portfolio startups has a high survival rate with just three write offs and two partial recoveries. Eight companies from Unitus have raised Series A funding (first big round), two have raised Series B and one startup is about to raise Series C investment.

“In good companies, we plan to participate in follow on fund raising as well,” Poole said. Unitus raised almost a third of its first fund from Indian investors. This proportion is expected to be higher in the second fund. “When we went to meet potential investors for the first fund, we got blank stares. Now they understand what we are doing,” says Srikrishna Ramamoorthy , partner with Unitus.

Ramamoorthy added that the investment firm never compromised on returns for impact. He said the success rate has helped the fund to attract mainstream venture capital funds to participate in subsequent rounds of funding of their portfolio companies. Poole said that the criteria to measure impact are creation of jobs, incremental income generation, access to information, supply chain and efficiency. Unitus said it met around 2,000 startups before investing in 23. “We avoid ‘me too’ startups and ask entrepreneurs to conserve capital,” added Poole.

The portfolio of companies that Unitus Seed Fund has invested in includes DriveU, Hippocampus, Blowhorn, iBreastExam, Jack on Block, Labinapp, AddressHealth, and BetterPlace. uses customer base to build ecosystem for startups

US-based employment website has been making inroads into the startup ecosystem by leveraging its customer base to crowdsource funds for entrepreneurial ventures in India.

In January this year, the company came up with a survey to judge the pulse of its 49 million user base around startups. “Within Monster, we were also exploring the startup space as our 49 million users have aspirations to start something of their own,” said Sanjay Modi, managing director of Monster India.

It was then that the company went ahead and created an umbrella called ‘Make India Work’ – an ecosystem for startups. “Breakthrough came when we started looking at angel funding and crowdsourcing, we said that these 49 million users could be potential funders for startups,” he said. These job seekers got an immediate connect, which was absent earlier. “We have also provided a framework for those who wanted to startup. With mentors, funding, we are giving an entire eco-system for those wanting to work for a startup and those wanting to start one,” Modi said.

Currently startups don’t fetch any significant revenues for Monster. “But it will definitely get bigger,” he said. Monster, which has five mentors including Maheshwar Peri and Arunachalam Muruganantham, CEO, Jayaashree Industries, is looking at adding more mentors and roping in venture capitalists.

The company has also launched a new product —’social job at hiring’. This was a result of its acquisition of a company called ‘Talent Bin’ in the US about two years ago. The offering through this acquisition is a product that crawls the digital landscape. “So this product crawls Twitter, FB, Google and gives a list of candidates based on skills as per the clients’ requirement,” Modi said.

Oracle launches startup incubator in Bengaluru

Oracle has launched a global-first accelerator programme in Bengaluru with the objective of catalyzing India’s nascent startup ecosystem and provide a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India and Make in India initiatives.

The announcement comes close on the heels of Oracle CEO Safra Catz announcing a $400 million investment into the Bengaluru technology centre.

Called the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator, the programme will incubate 5-6 early-stage technology startups building innovative solutions through a six-month acceleration programme that will give them access to mentoring, co-working space, access to Oracle’s customers, partners and investors, and free credits on its Oracle Cloud platform.

“We are incubating first in India,” said Sanket Atal, group VP, development in Oracle India. “The Indian startup ecosystem is doing incredibly well. We are third or fourth largest startup country in world and with the whole Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives we would like to support the movement and the ecosystem in which we have thrived for so long. We firmly believe that this will help India to leapfrog to the next level,” he said.

The centre will be inaugurated by Oracle’s president of product development Thomas Kurian on Friday. “Through the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator and the growing popularity of cloud as an alternate computing model, we want to be the catalyst for new business ideas,” Kurian said.

Over time, the accelerator programme will also be launched in other eight cities, including Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

Oracle’s efforts to leverage its cloud platform is an attempt to compete with IBM, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, all of which have been having a good run in the country.



This startup is a cloud-based mobile application testing device- pCloudy

With the ever increasing number of technology companies that are coming up world wide, there is an ever increasing need for Developers/Testers worldwide who need an on-demand and economical platform for testing their Mobile Apps on variety of real mobile devices. And pCloudy is here to solve that problem.

pCloudy is the only Mobile Device Farm on cloud that provides a state of the art Mobile App/Website test platform as a lone player in not only India, but also the entire Asia Pacific region as of now. Hence, it sure has the first mover advantage in the market.

The origin of PCloudy is based on one simple question: How do we simplify the current Non-effective Process of On-Device testing of Mobile Apps? And seeking the answer to this very question pCloudy was founded by an enthusiastic trio of Avinash Tiwari, Pankaj Goel and Lalit Jain. The company is based out of Bangalore and is currently a strong team of 40 people.

Avinash Tiwari is the Director of pCloudy, and he is the brain behind pCloudy and oversees the organisation’s entire operations. Pankaj Goel is responsible for the establishment of two entrepreneurial ventures, CressTech & SmartSoftware, he is rightly called the ‘Open-eyed Dreamer’ by friends and colleagues. Pankaj took on entrepreneurship at the very young age of 25. The risk was huge but the efforts proved to be worthwhile. His first venture, CresTech Software systems is a leading company in Independent Software Testing space. It has achieved CMMI level 3 certification. Today, pCloudy is already proving to be the most sought-after solution by eCommerce and mobile app companies besides larger enterprises. And last but not the least Lalit Jain who is famously known as The people’s Man. Lalit firmly believes in the Philosophy..”A Business is not about numbers but about people” – He has applied all his understanding of behavioral science in building a global network of partners and customers for OpKey and pCloudy.



Government to promote India as a startup destination

Government is preparing to launch a global campaign to hard sell India as attractive investment destination for startups and has invited proposals from creative agencies.

The campaign will be launched in global as well as domestic markets across all medias – print, electronic and social. “The objective of the campaign is to generate awareness about the investment opportunities and prospects of the country, startup action plan and to promote India as a preferred investment destination for new entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas,” said a DIPP notice inviting request for qualification-cum-request for proposal. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion said it also intend to set up an interactive portal for this.

DIPP, which deals with foreign direct investment (FDI) and related matters, is under the Commerce and Industry Ministry. Through its overseas media campaign, the department intends to project and showcase India as a favoured investment destination, especially for the new entrepreneurs bringing about new products and services through innovation and designs, it said.

“DIPP intends to release its campaign, portraying the strengths of and opportunities in the Indian startup ecosystem and highlighting the changes brought by the implementation of startup action Plan,” DIPP added. In January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had unveiled a slew of incentives to boost startup enterprises like offering a tax holiday and inspector raj-free regime for three years, capital gains tax exemption and Rs 10,000 crore corpus to fund them. A self-certification scheme was also announced recently in respect of nine labour and environment laws.

Government has also announced a slew of initiatives in the Budget for startups, including 100% tax exemption for three years and allocation of Rs 500 crore for SC/ST and women entrepreneurs, aimed at facilitating growth for these new businesses.

DIPP said it will also undertake production of publicity and promotional material on a regular basis, including brochures, ready reckoners, leaflets and posters, which will be circulated and distributed to prospective investors, industry media, embassies and high commissions.

“DIPP proposes to appoint a creative agency for designing and production of the required creative and publicity material and to provide a creative vision and strategy for taking forward the campaign to make India a favoured investment destination for startups based on innovative business,” it added.



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