Indian startups are not disruptive enough compared to global companies: Ratan Tata

MUMBAI: India’s internet ecosystem may be booming but domes tic startups still have some distance to cover as far as disruptive businesses go. That’s the word from one of India’s most successful corporate leaders and investors Ratan Tata.

“I don’t think we have as ma ny really disruptive startups in India as we do overseas,” said Tata, speaking at an event organised by venture capital firm IDG Ventures India. The reason, Tata believes, is not so much talent as is the lack of an encouraging ecosystem.

“We don’t have an environment where somebody says, ‘you have a great idea and so you need to be supported.’ We have instead an attitude of ‘we don’t need to have this, we can do well with what we have,” he rued.

One of India’s few corporate magnates to have emerged as a successful startup investor, Tata has made several early-stage bets in consumer internet companies including Paytm, Zivame, and Urban Ladder.

Last year, RNT Associates, the privately-held investment firm of Ratan Tata, set up a $300-million venture capital fund in partnership with the University of California to cut larger cheques for growth stage capital. The fund has so far invested in cab-riding platform Ola and financial -technology startup Mswipe.

While several of Tata’s personal investments have been in consumer internet companies, he is betting big on the medical research sector to scale up rapidly in India and globally. “In the 10 years that we have ahead of us, we may well see diseases that were terminal being treatable instead, and much of the work will be done in India,” he said.

With entry costs in India being low and talent available in abundance, the country is poised to become, “one of the centres of biological or biosciences in the future,” Tata said.

Given India’s open economy, the country could well be home to the next Google with support from the government and investors, the former Tata Group chairman said.

“The government should and could play a major role in (developing India’s startup ecosystem) provided they can embody the entrepreneurial spirit which would be necessary,” he said.

“We must create an environment where (an individual) can be motivated here (in India) and that requires a community of investors, capitalists who take risks… Then you’ll get those (globally successful results) here too. It cannot be a typical, bankable project. It has to be risk-bearing and there will be failures. The failures themselves will be lessons leading to successes.”

While Tata also has his eye on new technology such as artificial intelligence, he said the onus of balancing rapid automation and creating jobs will have to done by both – robust infrastructure that enables heavy employment along with high-technology startups and enterprises.

“Young people graduating with heavy technology skills is another bucket that we can grow if we encourage creation of high-technology enterprises. Somewhere (jobs through infrastructure and tech-enabled automation) will come together at a later point in time, complementing each other,” Tata said. But for automation and job creation to co-exist, he added, the government must play a more defining role without veering towards interference.

Source: Economic Times

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