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National Innovation Council chairman Sam Pitroda during a visit to the Startup Village in Kerala early this year. Photo Courtesy:

Encouraging entrepreneurship and creating a conducive environment to promote start-ups is one of the best approaches to creating national wealth and generating employment. Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is among those who has emphasised on the need for a greater thrust on entrepreneurship in the country. Change for Better brings to you a report on one such initiative by NASSCOM, the National Association of Software and Service Companies.

A national initiative to encourage entrepreneurship in the country has brought to light some interesting trends.

The Indian youth seems to have woken up to the opportunities for entrepreneurship thrown open in this age of science and technology.

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) which recently launched its ‘10,000 start-ups’ programme to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, received 4,000 applications for Angel Funding and Acceleration. Of these, one in every five application was filed from smaller towns; over 70 per cent applications came from applicants under the age of 30 and about 15% applicants were women. Close to 23 per cent of the applicants were from Bangalore, closely followed by 20 per cent applicants from Delhi NCR.

All of these are noteworthy, especially the growing risk-taking appetite of our youth for entrepreneurship and the rising interest and ambition shown by y ambition young women and people from smaller towns.

“We are overwhelmed with the response received for the programme. We have close to 14,000 entrepreneurs from over 80 cities registering with the programme who submitted about 4000 applications. We will now select about 20-25 startups for Angel Funding and Incubation,” said Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM while reacting to the response to the initiative. “Through a comprehensive evaluation process carried out by our partners, we will also select about 150 startups which would undergo rigorous mentoring by our members, programme partners and other industry partners,” he said.

NASSCOM had invited these applications during a 50-day window from April 5, 2013 to May 30, 2013.The 10,000 Start-ups programme has been initiated with the support of Google, Kotak, Microsoft and Verisign.

An analysis of the applications received revealed that about 25 per cent startups were aimed at providing solutions pertaining to education and skill development.

The retail vertical had 18 per cent applications followed by media (15 per cent) and healthcare (11 per cent).
From a technology point of view, a whopping 66 per cent of the applications came for web/internet startups, followed by mobile start-ups occupying a share of 24 per cent. Applications from Cloud and Big Data were at 16 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

India has had some remarkable success with start-ups such as Druva, Fusion Charts, Inmobi, Slideshare and Zoho, but such examples are very few.

So what is it that has been stopping India from achieving great heights in the start-ups space? As the Nasscom video presentation explains, it is lack of acceptance, fear of failure, low awareness of tech trends and opportunities, weak business management skills and fragile early stage support.

Nasscom has come forward to contribute its mite to change this culture through the strengths at its command. These include a network of 7,000 Hackathons (gathering of programmers who collaborate to write software programmes in a short span of time), workshops and mentor connects; incubation facilities at some of India's best incubators with seed fund ranging from Rs.5 lakhs to Rs. 15 lakhs; high quality mentoring and business tools worth Rs. 10 lakh; shared co-working space at affordable cost, angel funding of Rs. 25 lakhs to Rs. 2 crore from India's leading angels and such other supportive environment.

What it hopes to achieve through this initiative is a major contribution to India's GDP- as high as 2x- create 500,000 jobs and propel India towards the league of 10 ten countries in global innovation.

This is undoubtedly one of the most promising initiatives in the country. CfB wishes this programme all success in the months to come.



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