Categories: Business

Could nationally funded startups benefit from Aatmanirbhar Bharat wave? – Praveen Sinha

An opinion piece by Praveen Sinha, Co Founder, Jabong

With the government incentivising homegrown startups to innovate and compete with global leaders through a plethora of initiatives via Budget 2021, the attention has shifted to the space once again as India looks to rebound from a tough year, which was 2020. VCs and early stage investors will look to the Indian startup ecosystem with renewed interest given the favourable conditions being laid by the authorities, feels Praveen Sinha Jabong Co-Founder. With several Chinese apps which had found heavy adoption in the country were banned over privacy and security concerns, Indian developers have had the chance to pivot and find new opportunities in the market, he added.

Desi funded startups, the choice of the masses?

With information circulating across WhatsApp messages and social media sites, a certain percentage of the nation’s populace seems to be moving away from foreign funded apps, websites and services to adopt Indian solutions competing in the same space, observes Jabong Co-Founder Praveen Sinha. As the likes of Tiktok folded in India, clones like Chingaari picked up millions of users in the space of a month. NCore Games backed ‘FAU-G’ also picked up a lot of press and publicity after it launched post the ban of global sensation PUBG in India. Having won the ‘Aatmanirbhar Innovation’ challenge organised by the Govt. of India, social networking app Koo, which allows you to communicate and post in over 20 Indian languages, has been in the news lately after the Indian Govt. found itself in a very public tussle with global social networking site, Twitter. India’s stance is simple – Apps and services are welcome to do business in India as long as they are cooperating with the authorities and not breaking the regulations of the Constitution. Some leaders from the present administration have since openly promoted the use of Koo, which is a flagship product of India’s push for homegrown startups and solutions. The app has seen a ten fold increase over the last week, and now has over 3 million users continues to draw attention and users as the Twitter saga continues. Some questions were raised on the funding of the app by netizens and the team have since announced that their initial Chinese investors have recently made an exit and all their current investors are Indian. Following this exit, Indian entrepreneurs Ashish Hemrajani of BookMyShow, Vivekananda of Bounce, and Nithin Kamat of Zerodha, among others, will be investing in it.

Observations

It is interesting to note that the management at Koo were pretty swift to clarify that they have no foreign investors and they were proud of the fact that they are now completely owned and developed in India. For me, this could be a new trend where entrepreneurs are adjusting to the sentiments in the market and positioning themselves as a truly ‘Aatmanirbhar’ brand, claimed Praveen Sinha. However, it remains to be seen if startups can thrive in the long run without investments from abroad, especially from China. With diplomatic tensions easing on the border, it will be interesting to see how things in the market play out, concluded Sinha.

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