India’s growing start-up ecosystem needs to build its own version of Silicon Valley instead of aspiring to be a replica, and it also needn’t wait for a Google, Facebook or an IBM to start making acquisitions here, according to the panelists at the second edition of the Express IT Awards in Bangalore on Friday. Rather, the trend would see homegrown Internet-based companies buying local start-ups, like in China.
Insights into the country’s innovation pipeline came thick and fast at the awards where a high-powered panel — comprising Gopichand Katragadda, group chief technology officer, Tata Sons; Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India; Dilipkumar Khandelwal, managing director, SAP Labs India, Dinesh Malkani, president, Cisco India and SAARC, and Ravi Gururaj, serial entrepreneur and the chairman of Nasscom’s Product Council — met for a discussion on the topic “Innovation through Incubation”.
It also set the tone for an evening which saw 19 awards being given away to the most innovative and scalable IT solutions. The evening also saw S Ramadorai, former vice-chairman, TCS, winning the Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution to the IT industry, while Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant, took home the Newsmaker of the Year award.
To ramp up rapidly, India’s start-up ecosystem needs to have a couple of hundred very successful product start-ups, said Anandan at the panel discussion. “What is important for innovation from an India standpoint is to focus on the founders. Let’s focus on the start-ups and let’s make them buy,” suggested Anandan, pointing to how China last year saw around 51 start-ups getting acquired in just a span of four months. “So, we shouldn’t wait for Google and Facebook and Twitter and IBM to buy companies.”
But how do large companies incubate ideas, especially those that are disruptive? Katragadda said the critical thing was to realise that ‘unless you are disrupting yourself, somebody else will disrupt you’.
“If you look at the needs of India today, in the energy sector we need 250 gigawatts. How many start-ups are working on that? Hardly any. We need to be connecting our ideas to these market spaces and think big,” he said. Gururaj reckons India should focus on building its own version of Silicon Valley rather than aspiring to replicate it.
The awards were given away by Rajan Anandan, Anant Goenka, wholetime director and head – New Media, Indian Express Group, George Varghese, CEO of the group, and Sunil Jain, managing editor of The Financial Express.