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Singaporean startups look to India as the next growth market
August 17,2015
When Sharad Sharma, a startup expert and Co-founder of software think-tank iSpirt, recently said in an interview to The Hindu that about 75 per cent of India’s new tech startups that intend to raise funding will be domiciled abroad (like Singapore), many people frowned. He was actually referring to the unfavourable regulations in the country for early-stage investing, M&A transactions and IPO. Sharad Sharma is true to a great extent that India needs to change and roll out the red carpet to attract foreign companies and investments. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad place to do business for foreign firms. At least a few entrepreneurs and investors who have studied the dynamics of both India and Singapore believe that India is a “force to reckon with”. A melting pot of sub-cultures “India offers scale and volume for many B2C startups and a blend of developed market and developing market mindsets in the same region. As many B2C startups are built on social data sets and behavioural analytics, India is very attractive since it is a melting pot of different sub-cultures,” says Vijaya Kumar Ivaturi, Co-founder and CTO of Singapore-based Big Data startup Crayon Data. Nitin Sharma, Principal at VC firm Lightbox Ventures, agrees with Ivaturi. “I spoke with a few SEA-based startups at the RISE conference in Hong Kong. They are all excited by the potential upside from expanding to India, with its exploding Internet user base. They envy our enormous market size and acknowledge that while Southeast Asia as a whole seems like a large market, it is not easy to scale operations across multiple countries, because of the regional differences, with every economy and system operating differently.” “However, for Southeast Asian companies to come to a very competitive India without strong local partners and without localisation of their product can also be challenging. On the other hand, Indian and Chinese tech companies have often tested and refined their products across larger consumer bases and now have the ambition and capital to address the region. So this two-way street will be interesting to watch in the next few years,” adds Nitin Sharma, who earlier worked at US-based VC firm, New Enterprise Associates. Read More

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