Kerala Start-up Dreams

By : |April 4, 2016 0

Kerela, a state known more for its strong-arm tactics against investors and entrepreneurs is trying to join the lines of Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore in promoting startups. The momentum that was set in with the inception of  incubator Startup Village (SV) four years back is steadily building up with ideas like Student Entrepreneurship Policy (SEP) to promote an entrepreneurial culture in the state. But the real challenge is to sustain this momentum, scale-up and become financially self-sustaining.

“Over the last five years, Kerala has seen a dramatic change in mindset towards entrepreneurship. Today, doing a startup is an established concept with the active support of government and opposition to create employment, knowledge and wealth for development in society development,” Sanjay Vijayakumar, co-founder and CEO MobME Wireless and chairman of SV told The Financial Express.

SV, now receives more than 150 applications from entrepreneurs every month, which is like an overhaul of its status before 2012. The state had only 20 startups in the period 2006-09.Majority of the new ventures coming up are student startups and Kochi and Trivandrum are among the fastest growing startup hubs among the tier 2 cities or non-metro cities of the state.

Jayasankar Prasad C, chief executive officer of the Kerala startup Mission feels that the state is making all the right moves to promote entrepreneurship. He says, “The ecosystem elements are in place and their interactions are improving. The system has moved along the hype curve and now is in the plateau of stabilization. Yes, there is a paradigm shift in the mindset of youth to pursue entrepreneurship as a career as against a stereotype job. More important is the change in the mindset of the society, especially the influencer groups, like parents, teachers etc.”

But there are many who believe that that start-up culture is yet to see the light of the day in the state. Jyosthis, CEO of Cognicorthinks that Kerala is not yet ready to accept the startup culture. Another co-founder of the company Sindhu Joseph says, “At least for angel and seed investments, the entrepreneur needs to be supported by the ecosystem from either corporate VCs or individual investors. In terms of customer acquisition and sales, the problem faced by Kerala product startups especially in B2B area is the cost of selling to decision makers of large enterprises who are often located outside Kerala. As sales are what drive any startup to success, any help in showcasing or networking with such companies would benefit a lot.”

The ecosystem in Kerala though in the nascent stage compared to other states is on the right track with government funding to build the startup ecosystem higher than combined budget for Technopark, Inforpark and Cyber Park. More than 10,000 students from the eighth standard are being trained annually to give early exposure to technology startups. Kerala Technological University has also rolled out a comprehensive University startup policy.

With all these steps and government initiatives, analysts believe that the most literate state of the country will soon be a big part of Start-up India Plan.

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