India’s startups aren’t only becoming mainstream at home by providing jobs, services, and the occasional million-dollar payouts, but they’re also beginning to represent India abroad.
Founders of startups BoAt, Ather Energy and Skyroot Aerospace were a part of PM Modi’s CEO delegation to France. Shark Tank’s Aman Gupta, who is the co-founder of electronics company Boat, Tarun Mehta, CEO of Ather Electric, and Pawan Chandana, founder of space startup Skyroot, attended the Indo-French CEO meet along with PM Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“No force can stop us. Our time has come,” Aman Gupta said about the experience. “I used to see second and third gen entrepreneurs at state visits as official delegation with the Prime Minister but now new age entrepreneurs like myself are also being invited on such visits. This is a significant moment for us, as it reflects the recognition and support given to the entrepreneurial spirit in India,” he added.
“I had the honor of speaking about Make In India and Indian startups at the Indo-French CEO Forum. Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet with French ministers, bureaucrats, and corporates, and attend a state dinner at Louvre. The highlight of the trip was witnessing the Bastille Day Parade, where the Indian Contingent played “Sare Jahaan Se Acha.” My heart swelled with happiness and pride in that moment,” he wrote.
“These experiences reinforce my belief that we are entering an era where India stands strong alongside the world. It fills me with hope for our nation’s future,” Gupta said.
Tarun Mehta, founder of electric 2-wheeler Ather, was also at the event. “Had a fantastic time participating as part of the CEOs council joining the PM Narendra Modi ji on his trip to France. India is now the world leader for electric 2W technology and products. From battery tech to software and charging standards – India will be one of the largest exporters of EV 2/3 wheeler tech in the world. We are presented with a fantastic opportunity Ather Energy to bring this tech+products combo to the European markets and new age Indian companies will be able to make the most of it!” he said.
Similar sentiments were shared by Pawan Chandana, the CEO of Skyroot Aerospace, which had recently made headlines by launching India’s first private rocket into space. “It was an incredible honour sitting alongside Hon’ PM Narendra Modi and the French President Emmanuel Macron as part of the Indo-French CEO delegation. Glad that ‘Space’ was highlighted by both the leaders as a key area to deepen collaboration,” he said. Chandana shared a picture of himself sitting three seats away from PM Modi, and two seats away from NSA Ajit Doval.
And it’s this literal place at the high table that India’s startups have now begun to occupy. It’s quite a change from the Nehruvian socialist policies of old, which meant that private enterprise was discouraged, and it took several generations to build an impactful business. But startups can now, within a few years of inception, make a difference — Boat and Ather were founded in 2013, and Skyroot was founded in 2018, but these companies are already part of bilateral talks at the highest levels of government. And if government policies continue to encourage startups and entrepreneurship, thousands of startups could end up changing the face of India in the years to come.