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Needed: ecosystem built on strong fundamentals

by Annamalai Suriamurthy
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This week, startup mentor and founder of Chennai-based Startup Xperts, Shyam Sekar, discusses the need to create a startup ecosystem.

First let’s look at how a startup ecosystem needs to be created that is scalable, sustainable and can contribute to the growth of our economy.

An ecosystem means one that supports each other across all aspects that are required for the startup business to succeed.  As we compare how SiliconValley has been a startup success showcase, we need to pick those intrinsic attributes behind its working.  To a greater extent, Bengaluru has developed many of the attributes, which helped it to fuel the growth of startups. Yet another interesting take is of Chennai, which has succeeded in the global scale as a SaaS city.

 I would say, not just the Central government but even the State governments too should take up the necessary initiative and support the startup businesses to build a sustainable ecosystem.

There has been a good initiative from the Central Government a few years ago, and many startups have registered under this umbrella and taken benefits right from collateral-free loans, to certification, etc.  Though the expected scale can be much larger as the potential to grow is humongous. I would say, not just the Central government but even the State governments too should take up the necessary initiative and support the startup businesses to build a sustainable ecosystem.

What is required?

  • There has to be incubators and accelerators, and not just the real estate business of co-working spaces making money without adding value to aspiring entrepreneurs and startup founders.
  • The ecosystem should be mentors spread across specializations right from business, to finance, to operations, legal, etc. who can lend their helping hand to startup businesses.
  • Investors, financial institutions, banks, to understand the specific demands, challenges, and nuances as to how startup businesses work and provide support through financing them at the right time, and at the right stage.  This is easier said than done, as most find it difficult to evaluate the right startups and whether or not and how much to fund (considering their risk appetite).
  • Media should be showcasing those startups and it should not be an activity to garner eyeballs.  Then the fundamentals of building a startup are thwarted.  Genuine startups need to be identified, highlighted as they too need the right visibility to build.
  • We also need a community that can help startups when faced with specific challenges or when they seek advice.  This way, right at even an ideation stage, the aspiring entrepreneurs, startup founders need not reinvent the wheel for solutions which have either not worked, or not having the desired market opportunity.
  • Support from the government to ensure that this is a well-oiled engine, through the ease of process, transparency, and regulations, and showcasing intent in building this startup ecosystem.

Jobs cannot be created by the government to the extent of what’s required for the billion-plus population here.  Neither the large corporate would be able to provide these jobs for all those seeking employment, every year.  It is those micro, small, medium enterprises and startup businesses that can help solve this big challenge, and the need of the hour is to ensure that we build a sustainable ecosystem that’s built on strong fundamentals.

 

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