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Evangelise the entrepreneurship

Zafar Anjum | April 29, 2013
In a wide-ranging interview, Som Mittal, president of Nasscom, India, speaks of the three pillars of startups, the Singapore scene, the new direction of the Indian IT industry, and corporate governance.

I want to ask you about the startup scene here since you are in Singapore and Singapore has also been trying to build up a base of innovation and intelligent startups. Is there something that can be learnt from here for the Indian model or is this not applicable in India's case?

No, I think it is because location is not the issue. I think one thing that we are trying to do there is India itself is a large market so I think that changes the perspective of what it is but I think in terms of what is happening here in terms of incubation, you know how the industry is partnering, what is happening on mentorship, funding models. The Singapore government has always been at the forefront in terms of providing support while we have some part of it in the Indian government side but it's not at the same level.

As we all realise that entrepreneuralship and innovation are kind of synonymous because most innovation happens through entrepreneuralship in small startups. They don't happen in large corporations. They do but it is not at the same level. So, I think it would be very important for us to see how we can collaborate and I think this exchange helps.

So right now there are no formal plans for collaboration?

No, I think the collaboration always happens through ... funding. There are individuals who are participating in angel investing there and I'm sure vice versa is happening and I think there is a huge flow. In fact, there have been many companies who emerged out of India as a startups but then for various reasons of facilities that the Singapore government (provided), they have actually re-established it here. So, they are Indian-based but then they chose to incorporate themselves in Singapore.

Threat to the Indian outsourcing sector from new Asian players

Going back to the outsourcing question with Nasscom and the IT industry, I was thinking how India started the outsourcing trend and became the main hub of outsourcing but in the intervening years we also see countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and even China trying to build up this sector. So is there any real threat to the Indian outsourcing industry from these countries?

No. I think there is much to do. Clearly it's not a zero sum game. India grows and the Philippines is growing. There are two to three factors leading to this and I think this is a welcome development. India cannot do it alone. We've done it in English. We have to do it in multiple languages. So if you have to offer European languages, Portuguese, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, it's impossible. We can't say that India will learn all the languages. So, I think our people are actually going out and setting their own centers in these places.


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