Made in India, Made for the World: A Manifesto for Indian Social Web Startups

I have been talking about how the big opportunity for Indian social web startups lies in targeting the global market. Here is an updated version of my ‘Made in India, Made for the World’ talk from Startup Saturday’s StartingUp Mumbai Conference:

What Ails Social Web Innovation in India?

We often talk about the lack of social web innovation in India without really understanding the reasons why it’s difficult to build social web startups in India.

Innovations can be new-to-the-world inventions or mere tweaks. Similarly, innovations can have local or global appeal. So, there are four types of innovations: local-inventions, global inventions, local-tweaks and global-tweaks.

Most innovations from Indian startups are local-tweaks, although Zoho (and perhaps Slideshare) have become global-tweaks. I have seen very few real inventions from Indian startups.

Local-tweaks have been very successful in Asia and startups in China, Japan and Korea have created successful businesses based on local-tweaks.

Japan’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube are Mixi, LinkedIn, Ameba Now, Foursquare, Nico Nico Douga.

Korea’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube are Cyworld, LinkedIn, Me2Day, Foursquare, YouTube.

China’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube are Renren, Ushi, Sina Weibo, Jiepang and Youku.

However, India’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube.

So, what ails Indian local-tweaks? The limited internet infrastructure, the lack of local language content and the aspiration to use global English language platforms means that local-tweaks will be less successful in India than the other Asian markets.

With one exception: local content-community hybrids. Startups that create strong local content and build a community around it might turn out to be an exception. For instance, iDubba provides an entertainment discover and recommendation service focused on India.

So, the real opportunities for Indian product startups lie elsewhere: in global-tweaks, local-inventions, and even global-inventions. The real opportunities for Indian product startups lie in “Made in India, Made for the World.”

Made in India, Made for the World

Here are some startups who are trying to benefit from this opportunity:

1. Zoho provides a portfolio of online business, collaboration and productivity applications for businesses.

2. Deskaway provides an online collaboration application for distributed teams.

3. Uhuroo provides an online file-sharing application for distributed teams.

4. Cynapse provides online collaboration applications for distributed teams.

5. Qontext provides an online social collaboration application for businesses.

6. Practo is an online practice management application for doctors and clinics.

7. Gizapage provides an online social media marketing hub for individuals and businesses.

8. SocialTwist provides social media marketing applications for individuals and brands.

9. Beevolve is a social media monitoring application for businesses.

10. RecruiterBox provides an online recruitment application for small businesses.

11. Hover.in provides an in-text social content and ad distribution platform for publishers and brands.

12. Toufee provides an online flash movie making application for non-technical users.

13. AuthorStream provides an online presentation-sharing application.

14. WiziQ provides an online education application for students, teachers and organizations.

15. Lifeblob provides an online photo-sharing application built around social timelines.

16. Radbox provides an online video bookmarking application.

Many of these startups are still small, but many of them have a real chance to compete in the global market. It’s still not easy (I know because I advise some of them for love, money or equity), but it’s increasingly becoming possible.

Here are six reasons why “Made in India, Made for the World” is possible:

1. Cloud Infrastructure: Cloud infrastructure provided by Amazon Web Services and others make it possible for Indian startups to start and scale a web service cost-effectively.

2. Saas Delivery: The software-as-a-service delivery model pioneered by Salesforce and others makes it possible for Indian startups to deliver their applications to a global market.

3. Application Platforms: Application platforms developed by Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Android and RIM make it possible for Indian developers to distribute their apps to a global market.

4. Access to Influencers: Access to influencers like TechCrunch, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb and GigaOm makes it possible for Indian startups to become visible to early adopters and the global technology media.

5. Viral Loops: Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Digg, and aggregators like Techmeme and Tweetmeme, create viral loops that can help a new application get serious attention.

6. Service Infrastructure: Services like Skype, GetSatisfaction and ZenDesk make it possible for Indian startups to provide customer support to global clients cost-effectively.

However, there are a million trillion why “Made in India, Made for the World” is still not possible. All of you know those reasons, so do these startups. Still, they are trying.

So, will you build a social web application that is “Made in India, Made for the World”? I know I will.

If you would like to interview me for a story or invite me to speak at a conference, please e-mail me at [email protected], call me at +91-9999856940, or connect with me on Twitter.

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