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“Hardware Startups are Hard in General”: Ravi Gururaj Essay

While India has won the software game, it hasn’t been able to achieve its manufacturing domain dream as yet. Entrepreneur India asked Ravi Gururaj, Chairman, Nasscom Product Council, on how can government help in moulding hardware startups and also asked his views on new-age partnerships in the ecosystem.

How can the Make in India initiative offer to encourage manufacturing startups?

I think it’s more than the Make in India initiative; hardware startups are hard in general. What we need to do is find ways in which we can help companies that aspire to build hardware, help them get knowledge that’s needed, help them get the  right employees who have the right skills, find the right vendors, build right design and help them package them package their products and then help them get to market.

It’s a whole lifecycle!

We also then need to find the right investors who are willing to invest in them.  The Prime Minister has launched a Centre of Excellence in IoT and I think that’s a great initiative and several other policies that are there. I think it’s now time where we need to create a catalytic environment, where automatically people will be able to get the right help when needed.

Your perspective on MNCs and Government bodies funding startups

The government is investing in funds that will then invest in startups. What the government is doing is making funds available to fund managers.

In private industry it’s all an industry focus. If you are an automotive company, you saw a Hero Motors –Ather, Mahindra –Ola – I am sure every large company in India which is dominant in its industry is looking at innovation across domains; they are going to  look at tackling the innovation problem. They all have to be careful that they don’t get disrupted , that they also viewed as innovative, that they have the right product set, that they partner with very nimble compay, agile companies that are startups.

Trends of 2017 in the startup space

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Broadly what I am seeing is depth, diversity, domestic markets – all of these are big plays. I think we are going deep in some products. We are starting to see machine learning, algorithmic changes, starting to see diverse products, we are starting domain expertise (i.e.) people building very vertical products that are very deep in certain industries.

We are also seeing the domestic market where you have Indian languages and products specific to certain industry cluster and building specifically for India and not just the globe. I wouldn’t point any one thing. The big, big trend is MOBILE and it becomes an enabler for a lot of big things.

Entrepreneur India was speaking to Ravi Guruaj at NASSCOM Product Conclave last week.

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