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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.

We talked about Malaysia and China; Indian companies have gone out and set up their centres (in these countries) and I think that's a big driver. Our global customers are getting into China and we know their business operations so they are asking us to service in China. You can't service them out of India so you actually set up centres in China.

I think the nature of work is changing. You are doing certain parts but you are also doing work which is closer to business, so proximity is important. You are close to your customer. So, we are actually also setting up centres in the UK and US because time zones and proximity are extremely important.

You mean Nasscom?

No. I'm talking about Indian companies. We go wherever our members go and do this.  I think there is place for everyone. In many cases, India's presence itself is so large with customers that they are looking for a business continuity plan and disaster recovery beyond India. So between let's say Hyderabad and Bangalore, we can offer disaster recovery but they are saying, "How about the country risk?" Should the cables get cut, will I get off? The Philippines does offer good English skills. You will not be surprised that almost 25 percent to 30 percent of Philippines' business here comes out of Indian companies who have set up operations because we have to be ensuring that we do offer mission critical services on a business continuity basis.

India I think will remain competitive. If you look at many other countries with the exception of China, I think very few can offer scale because you go there, they are small and we will still leverage them for local language and local benefit but scale is not going to be in many places so I think all of us will have enough to do.

Related to the startups programme, I was thinking that, of course, India has a lot of advantages in terms of having a lot of entrepreneurs and innovators and they have been active in the Silicon Valley as well. The experience is there and now Nasscom is behind the projects. Are there any weaknesses in the system that could hamper this growth? Do you see any weaknesses?

Yes, I think there are several. First, I would say that our early stage support system is still weak. We'll be doing all this but I think we need to scale much more. We have young people coming in but we have to support them tremendously. We do not have early stage funding. When I say it's really very early stage, ideas stage; and angels also come in after some progress so we need some very early stage funding.


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