New York-based, serial tech entrepreneur and senior advisor to Google X Labs, Jack Hidary, is betting big on the disruptive Indian start-up ecosystem, which he says is poised to make India more the future of the planet, than the US will ever be.

Hidary has set up a 3-member team in Mumbai, to scout for “moonshot start-up partners” who can be mentored, given seed funding, and introduced to global best practices in the areas of digital money, education and energy.

In an interaction with the BusinessLine on the sidelines of the Nasscom Product Conclave, where he was invited to speak, Hidary said: “India is a ‘moonshot’ economy that can create breakthrough solutions that will, for instance, help the country do a double leapfrog from landline and feature phones, straight to smartphones; and leapfrog from a cash economy to a digital economy in double quick time.”

Funding plan

He said he is looking to invest seed money of $100,000-200,000 in start-ups through the Jack Hidary Foundation.

Commenting on the Smart City India Report which he released at the Conclave, he said: “Other Smart City Reports are mainly incremental in nature. Our report is all about applying ‘moonshot’ principles to transform cities in India by addressing grand challenges such as providing potable water to 400-500 million people, reducing 80 per cent of traffic volumes, providing reliable energy to 40 per cent of Indians who are off the grid. Right now 40 per cent of the traffic in Bengaluru is freight traffic. How does one come up with a solution to carry cargo that does not interfere with people movement in the city? The answer does not lie in creating a sub-way system where roads will be dug up and further inconvenience people. The problem requires a more innovative ‘moonshot’ solution.”

Hidary helps “me-too start-ups” differentiate their offerings by taking up the more radical approach rather than the incremental approach to solving problems.

Hidary is the co-founder of NYSE listed Dice Inc and Vista Research; Chairman of Samba Energy and serves on the Board of X Prize which is headed by Zenia Tata.