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I moved back to India from the bay area in mid 2000s. At that time, the Indian startup ecosystem could have easily fitted into a large conference room. In a short span of 10 odd years, it grew significantly.

Having built multiple startups and mentoring many more in India, I believe that we have solved the question of volume of startups in the ecosystem – there are over 5000+ tech startups with 1500 being added every year. There is a positive mindshare around startups, and good supporting ecosystem of investors and ecosystem players.

The constraint, however, has now shifted to “value” – which can be characterized as:

Path to market – There is limited access to local, regional and global markets. Startups find it difficult to build traction.

Product depth – Startups need to focus on building innovations that are narrow but go significantly deeper to solve a problem than light-weight solutions that stitch something together in a novel way.

This is where Techstars can really help the Indian ecosystem. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. It can bring its decades of experience helping startups and founders globally in 100+ countries. Its 1500+ founder network, 10,000+ mentor network and corporate partnerships bring a powerful ensemble that can help Indian startups up level – both in terms of path to market and in building world class quality.

And in this process, Techstars too will gain in understanding how next generation entrepreneurship works. India is a gateway to innovation for the next six billion users in emerging economies. Innovation in this environment of constraints, cultural diversity and scale is unique and requires a different approach.

This complementary synergy – that of Techstars global experience combined with India’s massive canvas of innovating for the next six billion is powerful.

This is why I’m pleased to be joining the Techstars network as President of Techstars India. I believe that we are embarking on an exciting journey together.

Techstars India will be innovating in areas aligned to startups, corporates and talent.

India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is unique in multiple ways

This ecosystem is now one of the top 20 in the world, sports few unicorns and has solutions that are not only used in the local markets, but are also used worldwide. Entrepreneurs’ confidence has grown from building solutions that are adaptations of models elsewhere, to building unique and relevant solutions to the problems and opportunities of India.

Tech Resource Scale: Over one and half million engineering graduates come out of colleges every year. With a young demographic (the median age is 28), the headroom for talent availability is significant.

Developer ecosystem: Over three million developers (second only to the US) are available and this number is growing.

Corporate ecosystem: There is a strong mix of software R&D, system integration, and startup companies, creating a unique opportunity for collaboration to create innovative solutions.

Large (open) domestic market: With over 1.3 billion population, it has a large and growing domestic market. Over 700 million people are getting technology access via smartphones and data, making it a fast growing market for tech enabled products and solutions.

Global startups: India also has a growing pool of startups going global. Almost 40% of all new startups are focused on selling globally.

If you are interested to know more about any of the programs in India or if you would like explore partnership with Techstars, please connect with us at techstarsindia@techstars.com.


Bala Girisaballa Bala Girisaballa
Bala Girisaballa is the President of Techstars India. Bala is the founder and director of PurpleFront, a technology startup helping small businesses leverage social media effectively to grow and retain customers. He was previously the MD of the Microsoft Accelerator India.