Venkatesh C.R., Chairman – GMASA shares his perspective on start-up ecosystem and tech-entrepreneurship in India. He also throws light upon Digital India mission. Excerpts:
Please tell us about your organisation and products/services that you offer?
Global Mobile App Summit Awards (GMASA) is a body that organizes mobile app summits and awards programs. GMASA plays an important role in bringing together thought leaders, innovators and developers from the mobile industry on the same platform.
GMASA events facilitate a positive interaction between mobile app developers from different geographies to interact and exchange insights on challenges and opportunities in the industry, foster business networking, and above all, recognize individuals and companies for their contribution in the mobile application space.
Would you give us an example of what your initiative is able to accomplish that perhaps others are not?
GMASA has been able to garner lot of participation in its previous two editions (Bangkok and Chennai). From young entrepreneurs to seasoned investors, everyone from the mobile app value chain benefitted from our initiatives.
Our mobile app award witnessed thousands of mobile apps from various countries vying for the coveted first position.
Furthermore, our keynote speeches and panel discussions helped app developers and marketers in learning a great deal about emerging trends and future technologies.
Unlike any other such initiative, we operate at a very large scale, ensure participation of top industry leaders and celebrities of the mobile app community, but most importantly, we put in lot of efforts in making the entire event really beneficial for our participants.
GMASA has proven to be one of the best podiums to explore business opportunities in the mobile app industry in recent times.
How do you see start-up ecosystem in our country?
The start-up ecosystem is certainly on an upward path in India. It has matured, especially in the past couple of years. From government initiatives like ‘Make in India’ to relentless efforts of various incubation centres, the start-up scenario is surely improving.
If we speak about the mobile app community, organizations such as GMASA are playing a stellar role in strengthening the start-up ecosystem, albeit indirectly, especially from technical alliance and funding standpoint.
I am sure start-ups from other sectors are also experiencing a more conducive business environment.
With a three year tax exemption for start-ups, along with government’s efforts towards policy reforms, I am optimistic that the start-up ecosystem will become more robust in coming years.
What are the challenges for tech-entrepreneurs in India?
While there is an experienced improvement in the start-up ecosystem, there are still a few challenges for tech-entrepreneurs in India, and the most important of them (in fact, every other challenge makes it difficult) is sustainability.
From lack of talent willing to work for a start-up to unfriendly regulations; from lack of timely funding to various cultural, social and psychological pressures playing on the entrepreneur – everything questions the sustainability of the start-up.
In our society, we judge the worth of a person by the weight of his/her wallet. Entrepreneurs typically get little support from their families, and there is always a pressure for earning more money in very little time. Well educated people in our country are expected to take up plush jobs, not struggle as a start-up. This mind-set poses a big challenge to all Indian start-ups.
From a technology start-up viewpoint, the leaps and bounds in technology is a great boon, but at the same time threatens to render other technologies moot – that is why tech-start-ups should be very agile and responsive to technology and market changes.
India faces huge digital divide. How do you see “Digital India” initiative by Modi Government in this context?
Digital India focuses on strengthening the digital infrastructure in the country, with an ultimate goal of digitally empowering the people of India. This is a positive move from the current government.
Besides the Digital India initiative, however, there is one other thing that is reducing the digital divide in our country – mobile internet. And mobile apps are playing an important role in rapidly equalizing the distribution of digital services among urban and rural populace.
What are your recommendations to the Government for the successful Digital India mission?
Although there are lots of infrastructure projects already in place, it is to be ensured that the objective of the initiative does not confine to merely giving internet access. Speed and quality of connections should also be given importance.
Moreover, people of all age groups and social strata should be made aware / trained on various digital platforms. The efforts should be all inclusive and not just restricted to the infrastructure bit.
How do you see the current state and future of Social Media Marketing, both from customers and companies perspectives? What does the future of Social Media Marketing looks like in India?
From an Indian standpoint, the future of Social Media Marketing is really bright, both from customers and companies’ perspectives.
On one hand, as the internet penetration in the country becomes higher, more users will flock on to Social Media sites – and on the other hand, with affordable promotional platforms (adsense / facebook promotion etc.) offered by Social Media sites, more and more companies will engage in Social Media Marketing.
What are the key marketing and building strategies for your business?
We optimize leading online marketing techniques, social media marketing and PR campaigns for brand building and promotions.
What are your future plans?
Our core aim is to bring together app developers, thinkers from the mobile app industry and investors under one roof. GMASA summits are a unique platform to provide app developers an opportunity to showcase their apps to a large audience, and reap the benefits of this recognition.
Our previous events experienced an overwhelming response from all the players of the mobile app community. This year, we are set to witness an even larger participation. Our future goal is to make GMASA a global program, bridging the gaps between mobile app communities around the world.