Tech product start-ups beginning to re-shape India’s reputation

ALOK GOYAL, Partner, Helion Venture Partners

Digital revolution helps them create a new wave of products



India’s largest technology providers like Infosys and Wipro in a first wave, then those like MindTree, TechSpan and KPIT along with a bunch of BPO companies – led the way to the country claiming its place under the sun for software development and IT services.

But conceptualising a technology product that will serve the market and having a conviction strong enough to take the product to market is not something India has historically done. According to Alok Goyal, Partner at venture capital firm Helion Venture Partners, if there are only a few Indian companies in that space, it is because much of the IT work involved taking instructions from others, mostly software development for big firms in the US. That is changing with technology product start-ups emerging out of India.

Products for SMEs

While Indian IT companies had focussed on large enterprises that could afford to spend a relatively longer time on implementation, India’s tech product start-ups can now look at a new market altogether.

“What we have now is like a second wave of tech product start-ups that are targeting small and medium enterprises in the US,” says Goyal.

Digital revolution helps that movement while giving the notion of selling out of India a new significance.

Goyal says, “Today, you can be digitally discovered. If you have a customer in Minneapolis, you can address much of that company’s requirements sitting in India. Indian product start-ups can do it better than a company in the US.”

Bullish on tech

India’s success in IT has led to a strong pool of product managers and engineering talent. Many eventually take the entrepreneurial route. What sets them apart is their ideas of scale, Goyal says.

“Those coming out of the first wave of start-ups in India, whether a Flipkart or a MakeMyTrip, possess a certain mindset of scale, and so we’ll see a new class of people building product companies that did not exist earlier… So we’re bullish on this area,” Goyal says. He feels the success or failure rate is not any different in tech products than it is in any other space. With bodies such as Nasscom Product Council and iSPIRT providing tremendous tailwind to technology companies, India’s ability to create successful products will continue to grow.

Helion Venture Partners has invested in more than 60 companies since 2006 with over 50 of them being tech-enabled start-ups, including consumer tech and mobile tech. In the last two years, the firm has backed 7-8 tech product companies.

Published on December 14, 2015
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