After much hyped conferences and events both in Goa and outside the state in the name of promotion of start-up and IT sector last year, the momentum seems to be losing its steam in 2019. VIKANT SAHAY talked to the Director of Bigtech and Molbio Diagnostics Pvt Ltd, Sriram Natarajan, who is also an angel investor in many of the Goan start-up companies, to learn from him about the ecosystem in Goa.
HERALD: As an angel investor in some Goan start-ups, how do you perceive the start-up ecosystem in the state?
SRIRAM NATARAJAN: In Goa we have been talking about supporting start-ups for a very long time and lot of initiatives have been taken but lot of them is basically individual small activities. There has never been a very cohesive kind of activity where a vision which is driving the start-up culture ends up in just events and nothing much happens. I came to the picture not through any events but many start-up companies came to me.
HERALD: Since after an activity there is a drop in interest, where does the problem lies?
SN: We have some individuals who come with high energy and enthusiasm with good intentions. When they come they participate in lot of activities during those events and as you know these bureaucrats keep changing and the momentum loses and carry forward becomes difficult. The implementation and having a cohesive approach is a major issue here.
HERALD: There is a huge potential which the start-up and IT sector has shown to us by handing majority of the issue alone. What they now require is funding and policy support. Where should they go?
SN: I tried to help them a little bit but they too have to find their own way. Believe me there is a lot of struggle involved in it. I can speak about Kallows which has a wonderful product and it has been validated by national agencies but even with that they never got the Goa government tender and it went to someone else outside the state. It is a very sad situation because they are pretty much as good, if not better than the products made by their competitor. It is sad that there is no local support given to them.
HERALD: As far as messaging from the government is concerned but the last mile connectivity is lacking and the beneficiaries are still waiting for their good times. Time is crucial, insn’t it?
SN: Yes, completely agree with you. You need to have a systematic approach. One individual cannot do everything. One needs to have a ecosystem where one can work with his or her team in a continuous process and only then we can actually the results coming in. Else it will be only talking and the results on the ground will not be seen. I do not think that intentions are wrong. It has been very good but they must have a systematic approach where multiple departments are on the same page.
HERALD: Pharmaceutical industry which is doing well in Goa is engaged in job creation. Now where and in which sector job creation can be done?
SN: Goans should not go out of Goa. They should stay in the state and contribute to the over-all economy of the state. Start-up can significantly contribute to job creation. Pharma industry is very big but for all the other industry it is not as simple. The mid-level and the lower level industries have had issues in Goa. Many of the industries in the industrial areas have gone defunct as they could not meet the challenges primarily due to non-availability of raw material and market in the state of Goa. Hence the cost of working in Goa is high but it is worth it if the infrastructure and logistics support match the industry requirement. Start-ups can adapt themselves easily so promoting start-ups could probably be the best way to take the industry and job-creation forward.
HERALD: PHigher education and skilled labour is another issue which plagues Goa and industries which are running a business have to hire people from outside Goa. What is your take on this?
SN: Yes there is an issue with skill in Goa and we do not have matching programmes in the education which is required by the industry. There has been never been an industry-education mapping. It should be done. Start-ups have a bit of an advantage as the people running those are techies themselves and they have huge ability to manage on their own but once they grow these challenges will come and they will have to look forward. For example Inventrom was operating from Goa but eventually they moved to Bengaluru as they were not getting the right kind of skills in Goa. This is very unfortunate. We need to have a ecosystem in Goa which supports start-ups.