Top Indian Startup Founders Attend PM Modi Event, Hail Govt’s Startup Policies

The nation is currently caught up with the election bug, and startups haven’t been left untouched.

India’s top startup founders yesterday attended a PM Modi event and hailed the government’s startup policies. Called Vishesh Sampark Abhiyan and hosted by Union Minister Hardeep Puri, the event saw unicorn startup founders, tech bosses and regulator get together. Founders of India’s top unicorns including Zomato, Urban Company, EaseMyTrip, OfBusiness, MapMyIndia and Mamaearth were at the event.

“My dad thought I could never do a start up given our humble background,’ Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal said at the event. “This government and their initiatives enabled a small town boy like me to build something like Zomato, which employs lakhs of people today!” he added.

Urban Company’s Abhiraj Bhal was also in attendance. “Government was highly instrumental in helping us generate a certified skilled workforce, allowing thousands of professionals to get up skilled and credible for home services. We now employ 57,000 people in 62 cities. Start up India initiate helped us brainstorm for hours and create a highly conducive start up ecosystem,” he said.

VCs also were present. “Post the reforms of 2014, the number of active mobile phone data users in India has become more than 800 million, which is more than in the US & China combined,” said Peak XV’s Rajan Anandan. “So that’s an extraordinary transformation of a digital ecosystem. We have without question the most vibrant in terms of broad-based innovation ecosystem when it comes to Digital India,” he added.

Mamaearth founders Varun Alagh and Ghazal Alagh, whose company recently went public, were also in attendance. “We are from middle class backgrounds and started our company in 2016 from scratch and today we employ more than 10000 people. It couldn’t have been possible but for the ecosystem provided by Modi government. In the next 5 years, focus has to be on creating good jobs, producing quality and focus on research,” Varun Alagh said.

“Before 2014, we used to import almost 100% of our mobile phones and electronics and now we are making almost 100% of our mobile phones,” said Dixon CEO Sunil Vachani. “With the policies of the current government, we will very soon export mobile phones of 100$ billion dollars! The Josh is so high now,” Vachani added. Dixon is India’s top contract manufacturer, and manufactures phones, TVs and other gadgets for multinational brands.

MapMyIndia CEO Rohan Verma, whose company is also listed on the stock markets, attended the event. “This government has unlocked the tremendous opportunity in space and geospatial over the last 4 years. Earlier, it was very difficult to work and all technology in geospatial sector was very restricted. But when we reached out to Niti Aayog, they got the policies amended, enabling us to serve the country and make us atmanirbhar,” he said.

“There were 450 registered startups in 2018. But today, there are more than 1 lakh startups,” said EaseMyTrip co-founder Rikant Pitti. “The startup ecosystem is growing rapidly… With the digital India initiative of 2015 and increased internet penetration across the country, digital transactions have increased significantly. Under the BharatNet scheme, more than 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats and villages have been provided with an internet connection. The future of the country is in the hands of technology,” he added.

OfBusiness founder Nitin Jain recounted how he had returned to India because the Modi government had won the elections in 2014. “We returned to India from UK in 2014 because Modi Ji was coming to power and it was a compelling chance to build something in India. And with a conducive ecosystem and effective policies of Modi government, we could create 2 unicorns in just 9 years,” he said. Nitin Jain and his wife Ruchi Kalra also run Oxyzo, and have the unique distinction of being a husband-wife pair that runs two unicorns between them.

It’s not every day that the country’s top startup founders attend an event hosted by the ruling government in the middle of an election, but this has been no ordinary election. While the ruling BJP has assured startups and companies of formulating policies that’ll help their businesses, the opposition has maintained a strident anti-capitalist rhetoric over the last few years, attacking India’s top entrepreneurs in Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, and in recent times, openly promoting wealth distribution and an inheritance tax that’ll disproportionately hit India’s well-off entrepreneurial and startup class. It is then perhaps no surprise that India’s startup community has pulled its weight in a certain direction during the elections, and has voted with its feet during peak election season.