India Needs More Incubator Funds

Sramana Mitra writes about the seed investment situation in India and says “more money chasing India, and simply not enough deals to absorb the interest. A VC mentality “India is booming, let’s send $200 Million to India” prevails at the moment in Silicon Valley. The grass, washed by the monsoon rains, seems infinitely greener in India, than the dry California hills along Highway 280.”

She adds that the “truth is, India is still very busy being the back-office of multinationals. It is downright impossible to hire senior management for startups, luring them away from $100,000+ packages.” Go read her insights and recommendations on what needs to happen in the incubator space.

8 thoughts on “India Needs More Incubator Funds

  1. This past Saturday was “Kellogg’s India Business Conference”. It had a happy happy fun fun speech from Shashi Tharoor, a boring read out from Rajat Gupta and madly-ridiculously-sleepy one from Ambassador Sen. Rajat Gupta was redeemed by his intelligent answers in the Q&A.

    One of the highlights was a panel on entreneurship and venture capital. Couple of successful serial entrepreneurs from India and a partner of Chicago’s largest VC firm were present. They pretty much echoed Sramana’s concerns. A total absence of middle-management, extensive disruption from attrition are some of the most serious challenges faced by Entrepreneurs.

    The VC partner in the panel was in consonance with Sarmana. He said that there are just too many start-ups chasing same ideas. One of his investments is based on the Netflix model and already has nine competitors.

    His general belief was that there will be a bloodbath in 1,2 or 3 years after which he will bet big on the survivors.


  2. 200MUSD is peanuts, can be absorbed (largely unproductively) into Mumbai’s seething real estate in under an hour. Why invest in starry-eyed dreamers whose products may or may not sell if you can invest in thugs and goons that peddle land and property, which everyone needs? Any estimate you have of the number of USDs doing illegal rounds in India’s real estate is likely to be a gross underestimate. VC funding for innovation may switch off today and no one will notice.


  3. Of course, 200 M USD is peanuts but it does not go into a simplistic revaluation of existing goods (property). This money is the seed for true value and wealth generation in the society.

    There is an endless list of multi-billion corporations that found care in their infancy from VC firms. Writing them off would be to write off a potential of immense wealth-generation.

    Example of VC funded companies: Google, Yahoo!, SUN, Youtube, the list is endless…


  4. I posted a comment ( more a rant actually) on Sramana’s blog post and on my own blog about this.

    I do not agree with Sramana on the statement that “Indian entrepreneurs don’t have a good idea on what problems to work on”. Due credit to her for explaining her statement in further comments and posts.

    Considering that most of us know the issues and also have a fair idea of what needs to be done (more incubators and experienced entrepreneurs guiding the newbies), there is probably one point that we don’t seem to be discussing still:

    Trying to recreate a silicon valley style ecosystem in India may not be required.The focus seems to be almost totally on hi-tech and internet startups. What we need are a few incubators/guidance centres for non-tech business ideas and would-be entrepreneurs.


  5. We would love to help in this area of investment. India will require a mountain of energy to sustain its growth. That energy will come from nuclear power and so to invest in uranium is the intelligent thing to do.

    Do any Indian bankers want to set up a uranium-stocks investment fund with us?


  6. bob-whatever… such a funny spam…

    india will require to grow in a way that reduces dependence on energy (as a subset of resources)… which means devising systems to work-around energy-inefficient (resource-inefficient) ways of doing things…


  7. Aditya, show me an entity which is not energy dependent and I will show you a dead entity.

    The primary non-mental barrier to India’s development is energy. (The mental barrier is the disease known as socialism.) More about that later.


  8. Sramana misses one vital point about the senior management. Few managers in global organisations have the skills to work in a start-up. Their experience is not appropriate to early – stage ventures IMO.



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