Start-ups…on rocky ground
The start-up landscape in Goa is emerging but with moans and groans and the absence of greater number of start-ups has caused much heart burn. Ajit John spoke to people who have a bird side view of the start-up landscape around the country and more specifically in Goa and asked them about the problems and the solutions for the state
PANAJI: It is the supposedly the buzzword that excites the authorities. A promise of jobs for Goans in companies established by Goans. Targets achieved, everyone is happy and live happily ever after. But real life is a lot harder. The realities on the ground are very different from what is discussed in conference halls and classrooms.
The state may rate pretty high in terms of quality of life parameters and distances that have to be traversed between points may not be much thus reducing time on travel but there are several other issues. At the recent two-day WIEF Idealab held at the Goa Institute of Management, several of the issues faced by start-ups were discussed.
GouravJaswal, Founder and Director, Protoryzean Incubator which is based in Goa has had a ringside view of the scenario. Gourav who strategizes nine companies all of which are based in Goa but look at the world as a market. Gourav said “I don’t see any gigantic problem.The transport system makes all points accessible, Goa was one of the states where optical fibres was laid and connectivity with the rest of the country and the world is pretty good”.
Gourav was candid when he said the conditions in different states were so very different. He said “With regards to Bengaluru start-ups can access vc’s because there is a thriving industry where as in Mumbai, Pune it would eb different, one would be able to access funds but effort would have to be put in and in a place like Goa even tougher so”.
One, he said had to be positive and not be churlish, start-ups took time and IT does not generate crores in unaccounted black money. When asked if there were not many external hurdles then why were there not many more start-ups. Jignesh said “It is important to orient ones thinking differently. The central point one has to ask is where does entrepreneurship start from. Where does the desire come from? Where does the propensity to lean towards entrepreneurship come from? There are personality types who lean towards entrepreneurship. There are cultural factors too. One has to ask what is the typical Goan looking for?”. He went to say that one had to ask if the policy in place was an image of what the people were looking for. Gourav felt at this moment in time a vast majority of the average Goan youth were not looking towards working very hard.
The government he said was trying to do something positive but the youth, he felt also had to understand what it meant to be in a start-up. What it meant to live under continuous stress. Starting a business today is all about having a laptop and a mobile phone but the hunger had to come from within. He felt most young people did not know what it meant to be an entrepreneur. He said “In Goa, people want to work in an office near their residence. If they are staying in Panjim, if they are transferred to Vasco, they will quit. I am not making a value judgement. If out of 100 young people who said they were interested in starting a business, 95 dropped out after learning of the hurdles ahead, then something will come out of the 5. Start-ups will be set up perhaps not by all the five but by at least two or three”.
Jignesh Jain, Director, YGEN Technologies Pvt Ltd came away from his short interaction with the audience was that the audience which largely comprise students were unaware of industry trends. He said “In Goa the govt is taking the initiative with micro funds, incubation centres and co-working spaces but what is lacking is talent. The problem is the government thought the tech business would be the easiest to attract for jobs”.
Students, he said had to be trained today so that when they leave college, they are ready to face the challenges of the rapidly evolving technology space. He said “It is important to create business models, incubate it and grow them from the perspective of Goa. The government has taken the initiative for sure to develop the start-up culture but they are paying consultants a lot of money and I don’t see any value in being brainwashed by a Corporation pushing their thought. It would be better if the company build investment chapters”
A professional in the start-up landscape who has operated in the state for a couple of years and who did not want to come on record was blunt when he said “The quality of students from engineering colleges suck. The best leave for Mumbai and Bengaluru and the rest is poor. We have to train them to make them employable. One cannot expect this lot to think of establishing start-ups. We have to reorient the education system to the requirements of industry. The problem is, technology is evolving so fast and it is difficult to keep up.” He also quibbled over the absence of a tech community in the state which could help youngsters tackle problems. Networking helped but in Goa it was not happening, he said it was not even about meeting but about texting others in the community which did not happen here. The absence of hunger in the belly did not help matters too, he felt.
The start-up scene in Goa Jignesh Jain said will evolve over a period of time and one will have to put in policies and then stay away. The conditions will emerge over a period of time whereby young entrepreneurs will emerge who will set up start-ups and handle the trials and tribulations. Nothing he said could be forced, it had to naturally evolve. Time will tell.
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