Recently I visited India representing the DFINITY Foundation. The trip was supported by upstart venture production and consulting group, Dunya Labs, and advocacy group, InCrypt. Those ten days altered my understanding of the way technology manifests products and the driving role the needs of high growth nations will have in defining the digital landscape of tomorrow.
In this episode, I’m joined by co-founder of Dunya Labs, Cathy Guo, and co-founders of InCrypt, Nitin Sharma & Sumukh Shetty. We examine the Indian startup, business and regulatory environments. We also look at the growth of telecommunications infrastructure alongside macro demographic trends and the unique business conditions they create.
IncryptInvestment, community building, and policy research and advocacy Has produced study and guidance on regulation
Dunya LabsResearch ArmProduct specific researchInfrastructure team connecting applications to protocolsCommunity and incubation
Cathy’s BookEntrepreneurial philosophyCorporate responsibilityEmerging tech landscape in IndiaEmerging startup ecosystemThe way that Indian startups create social and economic value
How do you see blockchain technology being deployed in India?Low trust, high administrative friction in IndiaMiddlemen are a big problemDesire for transparency and automationMore data is moved through Indian infrastructure than the USBeginning with banks and private ledgersSupply chain, etc. basic pilots that we are used to seeing in the first phase of blockchain experimentationNext step is public blockchainThis is limited by the regulatory environmentLook at India for talent, users & capital
The 4g RolloutIndia is experiencing a leapfrog effect for technology rollout
Tech companiesIndian tech companies are moving from a service based model through a period of optimizing external business models for the Indian market to a native innovation model where they will begin exporting technologyThere are 18 tech companies valued at over USD1b It is important not to overestimate the Indian consumer baseThere is limited local market protectionismThere may be 1.3 billion people but the number of consumers of tech products may be 30-50 millionUsers can’t pay the way that they can in China or the USCompanies survive by being very leanTalent is cheaper, this makes it a good place to launchDeep tech is still limitedNeed funding and educational supportIf we compare the Indian market to where it was 10 years ago you see 10 – 100x growth but it is still an order of magnitude lower than China/USThere is a huge impact in reducing fees on increasing addressable marketAlmost 50% of Indians are under 30Little legacy infrastructure but high web and mobile penetration3 million software developers in India with a 50-70% increase in graduates yoy
LegacyPrimacy of agricultureFear of automation (computers)This has changed
What are the business models that will drive the next generation of Indian unicornsMany current unicorns are already expanding overseasEnterprised focussed, or SaaS companies can be based in india and address markets abroad – Zoho, FreshworksA new crop of SaaS companies are emerging with that modelThis allows the targeting of specific niches because of the lower cost of talentMany blockchain projects fit this model
Engineering EducationTheoreticalLack of innovation focusDesiged to pass you on to a services companyMOOCs and open source are enabling autodidacts and hackers to innovate Tertiary education is of variable quality Brain drain is a major problem
RegulationIndian government is pro-business and pro-innovationHas supported identity and digital payment work State and national government are experimenting with private blockchainPonzi schemes have damaged the support for public blockchainFear of capital flight
Bit Connect took USD3b equiv from India