So far, Indian startups have focused on tweaks for the local market, not inventions or tweaks for the global market, partly because Indian VCs have tended to fund me-too startups with a business model focused on enabling transactions for the local market (book a air/ rail/ bus/ movie ticket).
However, in the last one or two years, several Indian startups have dared to build products for the global market. On my list are enterprise collaboration players Zoho, Deskaway, Uhuroo, Remindo, Cyn.in and YouSuggest, consumer focused web 2.0 startups like LifeBlob, AuthorStream, GizaPage (and the now dead Fachak and Kwippy), widget company Tell-a-Friend/ SocialTwist, flash-maker Toufee and online tutoring company TutorVista. Do let me know if I have missed out startups that should be on this list. With a little luck, several of these startups can become global players, and some already have.
I think there are five trends that are enabling Indian startups to target the global market –
1. SaaS/ Cloud Computing: The SaaS based delivery model enables such startups to sign-up users without a significant upfront investment in a sales and distribution channel and the cloud computing infrastructure from players like Amazon allows them to scale seamlessly as more users sign up.
2. Application Ecosystems: The application ecosystem created by Facebook, OpenSocial, Twitter, iPhone, Android and Nokia Ovi enables startups to build and distribute applications quickly. Over the next two years, as more players set up structured marketplaces like the iPhone marketplace, I expect these applications ecosystems to become the key driver of entrepreneurial innovations around the world, including in India.
3. Social Connections: The people behind the tech blog ecosystem (TechCrunch, Mashable, GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb, WebWorkerDaily, Scobleizer) that drives initial adoption for tech startups are more accessible than ever, on Twitter, Facebook and their own blogs. The Indian tech blog ecosystem is also evolving with Digital Inspiration, Pluggd.in, WATBlog and MediaNama building a large Indian and international readership and some of us are beginning to build a global reputation as thought leaders in the web 2.0 space. There is increasing interest in finding and highlighting startup success stories from the emerging world, especially India and China. The world is eager to listen to us and we have more means than ever to tell our stories. Not only that, these social connections can even help startups find international employees, partners and investors.
4. Viral Loops: Social media doesn’t only help startups leverage social connections; startups can also tap into the viral loops created by social platforms to build buzz. Aggregators like Techmeme and Tweetmeme and virality machines and platforms like Facebook Connect enable startups to grow virally by tapping into Facebook’s 350m user base.
5. Support Ecosystem: Social media and web 2.0 tools can also help startups convert and support customers. Startups can use Twitter to find prospects and track customer complaints and then use Skype to convert or close them. GetSatisfaction is emerging as a strong customer-driven support platform that can enable tech startups to offer support at scale without building a big support team.
At one level, ‘Made in India, Made for the World‘ is a manifesto to encourage more Indian startups to build web 2.0 offerings for the global market. At another level, it’s also a reminder to myself as I try to build 2020 Social into a global social technology firm, based in India. The journey has just started, for all of us, and I hope that we’ll have the will to go all the way.
Cross-posted at 2020 Social: Because Business is Social.
As CEO of 2020 Social, I build and nurture online communities for Indian and international clients, connect their customers, partners and employees, and help them achieve their business objectives. Ask us how we can help you.
- My Talk on Digital Activism at Social Media Club Delhi
- Mail Today on Why the Internet is the Perfect Hunting Ground for Entrepreneurs
- Updated: What Ails Entrepreneurship in India? A Demand Side Perspective