Face to Face with Anand Desai
Mr Anand Desai, President, TiE, Mumbai & Managing Partner, DSK Legal Advocates & Solicitors
FoodTech seems to have lost steam while FinTech, EduTech and HealthTech continue to be strong. What is the trend you are observing in upcoming startups in recent times?
Foodtech was never clearly defined. The focus has moved to food enabled tech, towards consumer products. Energy, clean/green ventures & Agri-tech are upcoming and we’ll see some breakthroughs soon. Space tech is another field that entrepreneurs can now look into. If you go by the numbers, the Indian Fintech market is forecasted to touch $2.4 billion by 2020. This could be one of the reasons that more than 400 unique investors invested in Fintech between 2015-2017. The Indian E-tailing market too is hot on the investors’ radar and could reach $28 billion by 2019-20. Lesser known sectors like logistics have witnessed $774 mn funding in 2015-17. The sector, which will contribute to nation building is Online Education. This sector is projected to witness approx 8x growth in the next five years from its current base.
Do you think the Startup India has lost steam in recent times?
There have been some failures which discouraged startup activity, but I understand that the Maharashtra government is working on a new startup policy that will hopefully give more clarity. There are pockets within the Central government working on this as well, including SIDBI & DIPP. SIDBI has already launched a startup portal which we have partnered with, that connects entrepreneurs from all over India with our mentors and investors. DIPP is also working on a platform that we have partnered with, but they are still in early development. The encouraging part is the recognition that government can’t keep providing jobs, and entrepreneurship is essential for economic growth and development. The present government has devised to help startups flourish in all sectors. In all, over 50+ start-up schemes have been launched, which includes the Atal Innovation Mission, Tinkering Labs, Patent Protection, Venture Capital Assistance, Software Technology Park, etc. Apart from the Central Government initiatives, 15 of the 32 Indian states have also come up with their own startup policies and initiatives. One of the early movers here was Rajasthan, which mobilised INR 500Cr angel and VC fund for startups. The introduction of GST will help create opportunities and ease up doing business in India.
How is the TiE Angels program unfolding?
Lets’s look at the landscape of Indian Tech Startup funding in H1 of 2017. As per the latest Inc42 report, over $5.56 billion was invested across 452 deals during January-June 2017. While in Q1 2017 about $1.46 billion was invested across 207 startups, Q2 witnesses 216 deals amounting to $4.1 billion in funding. In line with these encouraging numbers, we have met around 50 startups till date through the TiE Mumbai platform, with a few in advanced discussions.
How TiE Mumbai plans to raise the quality of mentoring?
I believe if charter members see more value in TiE amongst themselves, they will give more time for mentoring. I also believe we need to manage expectations between the two as to what the aim of mentoring is, and what the process will be. Most entrepreneurs are looking for money and markets, and few are focused on the processes of building a sustainable organisation. TiE Mumbai has been awarded the TiE Global Summit this year. We also became the first chapter in India to announce TiE Angels and also starting a series of Angel Investor Education programs. Besides the – 6 to +3 years (idea stage to early success startups) our focus is also on those startups who have raised series A, B ++.
Several entrepreneurs are setting up companies outside the country. What steps you suggest the government should take?
Depending on the economic status, imperatives, etc. I feel we need to have a more conducive ongoing constructive interaction between the public sector and the private sector to make substantial advances in easing up doing business in India as compliance in India is still far more than many other countries, funding appropriate ventures after giving opportunity to demonstrate innovation and merit etc. I am confident it will happen and that TiE will play a significant part in this journey.
How was your journey so far as TiE Mumbai’s President?
It has been fascinating to meet charter members from various parts of the world, attend TiECon Silicon Valley and explore the innovations, and the investor’s mindset, as also interact with some of the TiE founders. Silicon Valley seems to have vibrations that foster innovation, and I have been hoping we can build more of that in Mumbai. It’s also fantastic to be part of the high energy level one experiences at TiE events like TiECon Mumbai, which is our flagship annual event, and Smashup which is with young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs in a very informal setting. One area I feel we must do more of is government interaction as TiE – one organizations although we are organized by chapters, and social entrepreneurship which we have started with events like the eBay cup. We need to also increase the activities of our SIGs and have members increasingly leverage the TiE global network. GES being in India in November 2017 under the auspices of Hon’ble Prime Minister will draw greater attention to India as a destination for entrepreneurs.
How do you take time out for TiE Mumbai and other commitments?
Some sayings stick in one’s mind. One of them that has stuck in mine is that “a successful person is never short of time or money” I believe we can all find time if we are passionate about the various activities we undertake. Staying fit is one of my constant concerns. A description I heard which is attributed to Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca Cola, and which I believe in (with a slight variation) is that we have five balls to juggle, and shouldn’t let any of them fall out of our control – health, family, work, friends/recreation, spiritual quest.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
There is no substitute for focused hard work. And hard work pays!