Info-tech

Salesforce startup program sees interest from over 200 Indian startups

Yatti Soni | | Updated on: Jun 17, 2022
Sanket Atal, SVP & Managing Director- Sites, Salesforce India

Sanket Atal, SVP & Managing Director- Sites, Salesforce India | Photo Credit: LaurenCohn_K1

Sanket Atal says technology, target market and plethora of talent, have set the foundation for an amazing era for Indian startups

Salesforce India’s SVP & Managing Director- Sites, Sanket Atal spoke to BusinessLine about the SaaS major’s India-focused startup program, which was launched in December 2021 and provides startups a platform to connect, innovate and be a part of the Salesforce ecosystem. Under this program, the startups can get access to Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce AppExchange, and other Salesforce products as per their needs. Excerpt:

How has been the response to Salesforce Startup Program till now?

We started the program in December 2021, and as of April 2022, we have upwards of 200 startups who have shown an interest. Out of these, some startups have already made progress. We go through a process of evaluation internally as well, to see how do we help them. Several startups have expressed interest in us and we have connected them with relevant teams. In such a short time, many startups are looking at participating and we have not done any advertising, all interest has been through organic word of mouth.

Is there a fixed number of startups that you accept in the program?

Our scale will be really high because we are not an accelerator or incubator — we are a program. So, I believe over 50 have already gone through the evaluation and have been selected. Our selection process includes asking startups for more information on their company, so that we can get a better idea. So that’s the first step. We don’t put any guardrails around the industry or customer targeting because our market is the entire world and the entire economy, so it doesn’t matter. We need to look at what is it that a startup wants to do and is it something that we can help with. If it is, then they are more than welcome to be a part of the program. If it is not, we just let them know. Accepting startups happen on a rolling basis.

Is there a cap on the time period that these startups have to spend under the program?

There is no cap per se, but fundamentally, a year to 18 months is what that they would need.  Our goal is to ensure startups’ longevity and success. So we will do whatever it takes and connect them with the right entity. Now beyond that, if a startup is not able to make any progress in the year and a half time, then perhaps there are some other issues.

Do you plan to expand this program globally?

This particular program is conceptualised and launched in India only. Later on, we will take a look at expanding globally. We do engage with startups around the world through our other programs. In the US, we have an accelerator  which follows a cohort based approach among other initiatives. 

Does the program also help startups to raise funding?

We will connect these with the venture capitalist and angel investors — who might be interested in investing. We will also share the startups within Salesforce, if they fit the investment criteria. But Salesforce itself is also interested in investing in Indian companies and startups within the program. 

What is your outlook of the Indian startup ecosystem and its potential?

I am really bullish on the startup ecosystem in India. There are few things that are helping Indian startups. First, technology access has been democratized. Then time to market has been shrunk because there are so many platforms available for one to be able to develop their product in a much faster manner. Third, you can be sitting in India and target customers anywhere in the world. Finally, the talent. Talent is in abundance in India, and one can find talent in any area of technology. There has also been a huge cultural change in India, earlier engineers were very focused on finding a stable job in a large company or government. Today, they are more adventurous and are open to joining startups. So all of these things combined from technology, to target market, and abundance of talent — have set the foundation for an amazing era for Indian startups. 

Published on June 17, 2022
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