India is a country that is as diverse as it is vast. In this nation of more than a Billion, there are officially 22 languages. Only 200 Million Indians speak English and are benefitting from the digital dividends that technology has to offer. The products that most of the Indian startups are developing, do not cater to the rest of 1.07 Billion people that make up this country.
How long can we afford to ignore this Billion?
Mr. Nagaraja Prakasam who is an extremely active angel investor has been investing in startups that cater to the problems that India faces. He was one of the first investors in StayZilla and Uniphore. He has a vast portfolio of companies that he has invested in.
Speaking at the Startups Club Demo Day 2016, he touched upon the need to look at Indian problems and start building startups around those issues.
There are three types of startups that exist in India:
- Me too startups that are essentially copying ideas from the West and trying to run them in India
- Startups that are trying to objectively look at problems that are Indian and looking to find solutions towards those problems
- Disruptive startups that are changing the playing field completely
There are very few of the startups in the third category and way too many in the first category. To add to the challenge, these startups are not adapting to the Indian reality and catering to their necessities. Even today a website like Flipkart does not support a single Indian language!
These are our advantages, this is where international startups would find it hard to beat us. Are we really taking advantage of our knowledge of India, the answer is unfortunately; NO.
What can be done about this? Nagaraja talks about some of the startups that have made a difference and been able to play a radically disruptive role.