Indian startups have smashed records last year — Indian startups raised record levels of funding, and a record number of unicorns were created — and the Indian government now wants to double down on the sector.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will celebrate 16th January as National Startup Day every year. “In a bid to spread startup culture far and wide across the country, every year 16 January will be celebrated as National Startup Day,” he said. The announcement was made during the “Celebrating Innovation Ecosystem” event while the Prime Minister was interacting with 150 startups.
“Startups are going to be the backbone of new India,” PM Modi said. “When India completes 100 years of independence, startups will have an important role. Country’s innovators are making the country proud globally,” he added.
“This decade is being called as ‘techade’ of India…to strengthen the innovation, entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem have important aspects like liberating entrepreneurship, innovation from govt processes, bureaucratic silos,” PM Modi said.
The Modi government has repeatedly stressed on the importance of startups in helping grow India’s economy and provide jobs. In 2016, the government had announced the Startup India scheme at a glitzy event attended by the who’s who of the global tech ecosystem including Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, WeWork founder Adam Neumann, Uber founder Travis Kalanick, and Indian entrepreneurs including Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Oyo’s Ritesh Agarwal and InMobi’s Naveen Tiwari. The theme of the event had been “unobstacle”, which was a reference to how the government planned to remove archaic government rules and regulations which would help the country’s startup ecosystem bloom and flourish.
The government had also announced a slew of measures to help startups set up shop, including exemptions from inspections for three years, an 80% decrease in patent filing fees, and a provision of no tax on profits or capital gains for three years. The government had also created a Rs. 10,000 crore fund to promote startups in India.
The encouragement seems to have paid off — India’s startup ecosystem has been on a tear over the last few years. Indian startups have raised higher levels of funding year after year, and the number of unicorn startups — startups which are worth $1 billion or more — has zoomed. India had only eight unicorn startups until 2015, and this number has now grown to 90. These startups not only provide improved services to millions of customers, but also provide jobs to engineers, designers, managers and even delivery partners and operations workers.
And India’s startup journey might be getting started — with a 1.4 billion population waiting to be served, there’s still massive headroom for Indian startups to grow and expand, and thousands of problems waiting to be solved. The government too seems to recognize how critical this sector can be for India’s economy, and has gone ahead and declared a National Startup Day. With economic tailwinds, a young population, high internet penetration, interested global investors, and support from the government to boot, there’s probably never been a better time to start a startup in India.