Blogs

Author: Pradeep GopalaKrishnan
Published On:June 20,2017

Seeding Kerala to nurture the Startup Ecosystem

Over the past few years Kerala government has focused on building a Startup friendly Eco system. It is the first and probably only state to have a written down policy on startups. There are several government sponsored enablers in the form of incubators, labs, centers spanning across the state and embedded in colleges. Recently the Startup Village in Kerala was adjudged the No 1 incubator in the country. IAMAI is setting up the very first incubator in the mobile app sector at Kozhikode.

The unique homogenousdensity combined with the high literacy, has also helped. All these factors have helped it gain the No 8 spot in the startups ranking in the country.

Seeding Kerala sponsored by the Kerala Startup Mission is an annual programme for all the constituents of the startup ecosystem in the state to meet, network, share and inspire. Its second edition was held on 17th and 18th June in Ernakulam at the beautiful campus of the Rajagiri school of Engineering and technology. The mega event was preceded by themonthly edition of Meetup café at Maker Village

This was a great opportunity for me to understand, participate, network with budding entrepreneurs, startups, investors, VC, the entire ecosystem.

At the meetup café I first had the opportunity to hear Rajesh Nair of Ernst and Young on the global market trends. EY works in conjunction with other investors under the banner of TIE to nurture entrepreneurs at the seed level. This was followed by a talk by Varun Chandran CEO of Corporate 360. Varun a mallu spoke with lot of passion and enthusiasm about his journey from being college drop out to a regular SAP consultant onto now being an entrepreneur and now also an Angel investor.

Day 1 of of the Seeding Kerala V2 eventhad a bit of time confusions caused apparently by the arrival of the PM at Kochi for the Kochi Metro inauguration. But the speakers easily adjusted their timings with each other. The camaraderie was all pervasive. There were two workshops being conducted before noon. One workshop for the startups and a parallel one for the investors. But as the event had more entrepreneurs participating than the investors, the investor workshop also had mostly entrepreneurs in attendance. Only myself and another person were classified as “Angel Investors”.

At the investor workshop Chaitanya Ramalingegowda of Let’s venture and Raveendranath Kamath led discussions/workshop aimed at preparing budding angel investors to make the right decisions in selecting and investing in startups

In the afternoon there were further sessions on investing in startups followed by panel discussion with Kerala Startup Mission( KSUM ) head Dr Saji Gopinath and M Sivasankar IAS representing the government. They made an important announcementregarding the intention of the Kerala Government to setup a Seed Fund. VC fund heads Anil Joshi of Unicorn Ventures, Ashok G of Sea Fund added perspective from the private sector, the session was very well moderated by ShilenSagunan of SS Consulting

 Day 2 The morning session had Sunitha Ramaswamy of Lets Venture leading a workshop on raising funding by entrepreneurs. Amongst the other key salient points she emphasised the importance of regulatory compliance

While startups usually have the expertise to focus on tech and business development they lack the necessary knowledge in financial accounting, taxation and regulatory compliance. It is here that professional organisations such as Startup buddy fill a critical gap in the ecosystem.

Afternoon session of day 2 had a panel discussion with Anil Joshi, Jofin,Varun Chandran elaborating the points based on which they chose the startups they invest in.The discussion was followed by Pitching by five pre selected startups.

Other than the scheduled sessions it was great to network with a number of Entrepreneurs. The range of solutions these guys had a wide. Hardware products, Software solutions, Mobile Apps, Electric Vehicles, Gaming software, tech solutions for social causes (water conservation, hydrophonic solution for agro farming, clean toilet management ) were some that I had an opportunity to interact with.

It was also great to understand the startup ecosystem in Kerala and discuss the importance of the financial services being offered by Startupbuddy services. The fact that Startupbuddy services had started its operations in Kerala itself was well received. Dr Saji Gopinath was freely mixing with all the participants given his long and illustrious academic career. Key takeaway from the event was

  1. A very strong Government supported startup Eco System in Kerala
  2. A variety of active entrepreneurs in the state.
  3. A great pool of HNI as well as Non resident individuals willing to be angel investors.
  4. Investment in Startup being an asset class with very return albeit with high risk requiring careful analysis before investing.
  5. The gap for professional financial support services to startups which StartupBuddy intends to fill with operations starting in Kerala.

For any queries relating to the blog or for any clarifications or financial services support in the state of kerala, please feel free to contact me at Pradeep.Gopalakrishnan@startupbuddy.co.in