Bengaluru: At a time when foreign capital primarily continues to fund India’s startup ecosystem, Nandan Nilekani, former chief executive of Infosys Technologies, pointed out that there were signs that domestic investors were beginning to weigh in as well.
The architect of Aadhaar said that while the spends by domestic pools of capital were yet to be at par with global investors, who have poured in billions into the country’s new economy ventures, the increase in activity was encouraging.
“There are certainly now a number of Indian startups that are willing to invest now. It may not be at the level, of say, SoftBank, but there’s certainly a lot more of it coming in now,” Nilekani said, as part of a panel, at The Economic Times Startup Awards on August 18.
The panellists discussing the topic of the evening, “Growing Pains: managing culture, scale and returns,” also included Sachin Bansal, executive chairman of Flipkart, Rajan Anandan, vice-president, South-East Asia and India, Google, Naveen Tewari, chief executive, InMobi, and Falguni Nayar, CEO, Nykaa.
Once again touching upon the rather sensitive topic of a sensitive playing field, Bansal said entrepreneurship in the country needed to be nurtured.
“There are some areas where Indian companies tend to be at a disadvantage as compared to global counterparts. We need to create a level playing field for them so that they are able to use their best capabilities to make an impact to customers and reap the best advantages of the investments they are getting,” Bansal said.
“We are seeing government outreach and they ask us about the problems we face on the way to scaling up. The new environment for smaller companies is pretty conducive,” he added.
The comments come at a time when the startup ecosystem is, once again, beginning to see an uptick in funding after a rather barren 12-18 months that saw investors adopt a more cautious approach as they looked to rejig their portfolios and focus more on returns.
According to Naveen Tewari, chief executive of InMobi, the first startup that emerged from the country to gain the Unicorn status, it is exactly at times like these that ventures, and their founders, have to adapt.
“Drying up of capital has different consequences in different environments… Capital will follow where great talents go,” Tewari said.
The animated discussion on the dais also addressed a burning issue that continues to hold greater relevance not just in India, but also globally – the need for more women in entrepreneurship.
At a time when Silicon Valley, the Mecca of startups, is coming under increasing scrutiny for the lack of female representation in the startup ecosystem, the demands for greater gender diversity has only become more strident.
“Starting from the top, one has to show that they care for the consumer, for the business and for the employee. Maybe that comes more naturally to women. Once you show that, it becomes the culture of the company,” pointed out Falguni Nayar, Chief Executive of online beauty retailer, Nykaa.