Visualization and Analysis
This post is partly about learning how Indian start-ups were funded during the first half of this year. It's also about experimenting with data visualization. For the data, I was fortunate to find some open data, thanks to the work of Trak.in. Interested readers can go to the source and download the data. For visualization, I used a tool called BIME Analytics. It requires some time to master but I think I'm getting the hang of it.
Before we delve into the details, I have to make some cautionary remarks. No data is perfect. In particular, it's not clear how Trak.in obtained or verified the data. Was it data submitted online by users? How were users authenticated? Did they interview investors or scrutinize their investment documents? Secondly, a total of 545 projects were funded from January to June 2016. Of these, 235 were funded for undisclosed amounts: 165 via seed funding and 70 via private equity. Since 43% of the dataset has incomplete data, readers must keep this in mind while interpreting the following visualizations.
A review and opinion
About a week ago, a Bangalore start-up named Lumos launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Aster, a backpack designed for cyclists. Lumos has been selling a solar-panelled backpack for a few years now. Aster is a new product but as with anything new you need resources to take something from concept to product. Back in the old days, you either took a loan from a bank or persuaded angel investors; or you used profits from your established cash cow to channel into the new project. As a start-up, any of these approaches might be difficult. So, Lumos took the route of crowdfunding on Indiegogo.
Indiegogo, and its more famous competitor KickStarter, are crowdfunding sites that connect backers with makers. Crowdfunding is not just about raising money. It's also about validating one's idea and getting an early commitment from customers. This is actually a smart thing to do. As an entrepreneur you are in fact sharing your risk with investors and customers. You are testing your idea in the marketplace long before the product comes out. While both Indiegogo and KickStarter platforms are foreign, what options do Indians have to crowdfund projects locally?
Thoughts from Nandan and Chamath
If you're running a start-up or thinking of doing so in the near future, you might want to get some insights and thoughts on the Indian start-up ecosystem and the dynamics of building a great company. What better way that to hear of it than from two successful entrepreneurs: one from the old world before web and apps came to us, Nandan Nilekani, who built Infosys; the other from the new world built on web, mobile and cloud technologies, Chamath Palihapitiya, who was responsible for growing Facebook from a few million to a billion users.
Things are changing pretty fast in the Indian start-up scene. New start-ups are cropping up by the hundreds, not just dozens. Funds are plenty. Many if not most students graduating out of college are looking first to start out on their own and only otherwise "settle down" via the campus placement route. But in this fast moving environment it's sometimes not clear who's winning and who's going to lose in the long term.
A quick summary of ideas from start-ups
In September last year I visited TechHub at its new office in Bangalore. Back then they were only a couple of months old. I didn't get to know much about the sort of start-ups being incubated in their premises. So I took the opportunity to attend Demo Day yesterday to see how far these start-ups have come. The public are welcome to attend these events provided they register in advance and get a confirmation.
Another good thing about Demo Day is that start-ups who are not incubated at TechHub are also welcome. Anyone can request for a slot to showcase their products and services. After all, it's a connected world and the entrepreneurial world should be a connected community. We need to have more such events were ideas can be openly presented. One idea can trigger ten others.
An overview of all 25 sectors
In the first article published earlier this week, we looked briefly at the vision behind Prime Minister Modi's Make In India movement. What is interesting to engineers and entrepreneurs is to know where the opportunities lie and how one can play a part in this movement.
In all, 25 sectors have been identified. In this article, we list these sectors and take a brief look at key opportunities. These opportunities may be in terms of partnerships, collaborations or joint ventures. They may in R&D, manufacturing, distributorship or local support. They may even been in terms of survey, sales or marketing where foreign companies seek information on India and its market.
Opportunities for one and all
Last month the Prime Minister unveiled his vision of making India a competitive manufacturing hub. Under the banner of "Make in India," a new impetus has been given in this direction. The vision has been summarized thus on the Make In India website,
A major new national program designed to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure. There's never been a better time to Make in India.
Computer networking pioneer Kanwal Rekhi shares his insights
Listening to Kanwal Rekhi at the IIM Bangalore auditorium last evening was something of an experience in itself. It occurred to me that Kanwal is not a great orator. The talk was not polished, at times appearing almost inarticulate. None of these things actually mattered because every word that Kanwal spoke, he did so with passion. Here was an engineer-turned-entrepreneur who knew exactly what it took to become a successful entrepreneur. Above all, an entrepreneur must be passionate. Kanwal showed even at the age of 68 that he had that passion.