- India has an advantage of massive population and an established logistical network making it a favourable destination to explore and target. It has a comprehensive network of tax treaties, and the establishment of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has added to the ease of doing business.
- From being a test market for novel technologies to being a tech co-developer or to being a market itself, India has something to offer to all startups looking to explore a new market.
Ever since India opened its economy to the global market, it has seen unprecedented growth in multiple sectors. Unsurprisingly, the traditional strengths of India in services, manufacturing and software aided this. Once one realises that there are many Indias within India, the opportunity for globalisation in this country is endless. India has been one of the fastest-growing economies for over a decade, a track that even the pandemic could not disrupt.
Macroeconmically, India boasts of a massive population and an established logistical network making it a favourable destination to explore and target. It has a comprehensive network of tax treaties, and the establishment of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has added to the ease of doing business. Since 2014, India has also passed multiple legislations that provide a business-friendly environment.
One of the recent additions to these was the new Drone Rules that came out in 2021, which were drafted taking into account the business feedback on previous regulations. Operational infrastructure such as land, internet, phone, and human capital is easy to source and readily available. Language is not a major challenge in India, as English is quite commonly used as the business language of choice. This, combined with its hard-working nature and never-say-no attitude, supports its stature as one of the top markets in the world today.
With 44 unicorns at the height of the pandemic in 2021, India reached its total tally of 84 by the end of the year. A flurry of movements in 2022 saw a new banking startup claim the title of India’s 100th unicorn. Bengaluru is India’s unicorn capital, with the largest number of unicorns, followed by Delhi (NCR) and Mumbai. The Unicorns come from the length and breadth of the country and span traditional sectors such as fintech, e-commerce, supply chain & logistics, internet software & services and novel sectors such as content, gaming, hospitality, data management & analytics.
The minimum and maximum time is taken by a startup to become a unicorn are 6 months and 37 years, respectively. Mensa Brands took only six months to become a unicorn in 2021, making it one of the fastest unicorns in Asia. Four Indian firms have Decacorn status currently: Flipkart, BYJU’s, Paytm and Swiggy. While a slowdown is predicted, the fact is that startups have generated employment, and revenue and changed the mindset of being an “upstart”. While the competition is fierce, there also many opportunities and investment bodies are taking note: Sequioa, Y-Combinator, TPG, Accel ventures, SoftBank, SOSV, Silicon Road, Temasek, Tiger Global and 3one4 Capital, among many others, have been actively investing in startups. Many global startups are increasingly looking at the Indian ecosystem to tap into a highly specialised talent pool to support their operations in India and globally.
For Swiss startups, the incredible diversity, market size and business approaches in India are both a challenge and an opportunity. From being a test market for novel technologies to being a tech co-developer or to being a market itself, India has something to offer to all startups looking to explore a new market. However, no startup or business entity can airdrop solutions and hope for similar results across all markets – understanding local conditions is a must. For this, you need a trusted partner who has a deep understanding of the Indian market. Fortunately, Swiss startups have the advantage of exploring and entering the market through Swissnex, an outpost of the State Secretariat of Education, Research and Innovation.
Since 2013, Swissnex in India has mentored over 600 Swiss startups through different programs that delve into market discovery, market validation and market entry in India.
(The article has been borrowed from the Swissnex in India blogpost section)