Info-tech

Tech ventures use Chennai’s ecosystem as a launchpad

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan Chennai October 14 | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 14, 2016

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To fly, call for infrastructure development

One could say that the city of Chennai has an understated charm about it. Quiet growth and development, which do not grab the limelight as often as its flashier counterparts, has often defined the city. The same quiet ecosystem also applies to the city’s start-up environment.

Over the years, the city has become home to a number of start-ups, operating across a variety of streams and industries. From medical technology to robotics and billing solutions, there is a proliferation of companies operating in the technology space also carving a niche for themselves.

One such company is Perfint Healthcare. Founded in 2005 by Nandakumar S, Guruswamy K and Puhazhendi K, the firm provides robotic technology solutions for medical procedures, with oncology as the focal point.

Nandakumar, co-founder and CEO, Perfint, said Chennai being an advanced healthcare hub was one of the reasons behind founding the firm in the city. “Manufacturing and engineering formed a larger base of the industrial landscape of Chennai than IT & ITES services, which was another factor on our minds,” he said.

Experienced talent

Nandakumar said Chennai had also the advantage of a large supplier base and better physical infrastructure. “However, we soon realised it was difficult to attract talent experienced in medtech to Chennai from Bengaluru or Pune. Start-ups are all about talent. Chennai doesn’t have that pool of experienced engineers, designers or scientists in medical technology,” he said, adding that Bengaluru has a lot more start-ups operating in this space.

The founder of SP Robotics also feels the same about Chennai. The company, which was started by two graduates from Chennai-based Anna University’s College of Engineering, recently raised ₹2 crore from the Indian Angel Network and Chennai Angels. The start-up’s co-founder Sneha Priya said Chennai is an ideal market to begin. “Chennaites give a lot of importance to education, and with our company offering education in robotics, it was the right place to start,” she said.

However, she lamented that the start-up environment in the city is not the best. But leveraging the right opportunities can help start-ups grow, she added.

Infrastructure

The same concern was echoed by Krish Subramanian, co-founder of Chargebee, a billing solutions start-up founded in 2011 and backed by Accel Partners and Tiger Global. “Although there are a lot more options available now, we do not have proper infrastructure for start-ups in Chennai compared with other hubs,” he said.

Infrastructure development, although promised, has not taken off, in some cases. “The medtech park that was planned near Chengalpet never took off, but the one in Vizag, which was announced a few years ago, is now a reality,” Perfint’s Nandakumar said.

Ecosystem

However, with many such companies choosing to base their businesses in the city, the entrepreneurial ecosystem looks like it is seeing an improvement. Global entrepreneurial network The Indus Entrepreneurs’ Chennai chapter was awarded the best chapter worldwide in 2014. TiE Chennai is also hosting TiECon Chennai’s third edition in November.

“Most Chennai start-ups want to first establish themselves in a particular space and then focus on the sound bytes and become more visible,” says TiE Chennai President R Narayanan. Numerous such start-ups are slated to participate in TiECon this year.

With many start-ups looking to make Chennai their base, sound infrastructure will be the key for the ventures to flourish.

Published on October 14, 2016
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