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How global companies inspired Indian start-ups to accelerate innovation

By Viral Jani

Over the past few decades, India has rightfully cemented its position as one of the fastest growing countries in the world.
savings. Due to various market conditions, such as widespread internet penetration, accelerated growth
in digital services, and being the largest open Internet market in the world, the subcontinent offers
opportunities for global organizations considering international expansion. India’s booming domestic market
opportunity, a highly sought-after pool of quality talent and an open regulatory environment are other factors that
add to its appeal.

Recognizing this potential, various prominent global companies have made their way into the Indian market
market over the past few years and have been hugely successful. With over half a billion internet users, India is
one of the largest and fastest growing markets for digital consumers. The ascending segment of Indian consumers, who have a global outlook and are proficient in English, tend to be early adopters of global products and services in India. In many categories, this early success of global products has prompted Indian startups to launch products that address a similar gap in the product market. Interestingly, “early adoption” behavior is no longer limited to audiences in metropolitan cities, but has trickled down to consumers in Tier 2 and 3 cities, explaining the rise of start-ups local people in India who create products and services for more people. market and to harness the untapped potential of Indian small towns. Offlate, these markets have delivered unprecedented success even to niche sectors such as fintech, edtech, consumer tech, among others, an opportunity that global and Indian start-ups are looking to tap into. Key drivers of this growth include the growth seen in fintech platforms, growing acceptance of digital payments, and increasing purchasing power of the Indian consumer.

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This growing participation of Tier 2 and 3 markets that are rapidly adopting the latest technologies, has pushed
the envelope for local startups in India. From Uber in ridesharing, Amazon in e-commerce, and Coursera in online education, these global organizations have raised the bar for local players, pushing them to transform or evolve to better meet changing demands. of the Indian consumer.

Another noticeable trend in this space has been the number of these global giants not only expanding their own operations in the country, but also investing in and partnering with Indian start-ups, which has led the India to become one of the country’s fastest growing major economies. the world. Uber’s collaboration with PayTM to offer a digital payment wallet service to Indian consumers was one such unique and pioneering initiative that was primarily undertaken to reach a wider audience in India, including those in smaller towns. The partnership between Meta and Reliance Jio, which brought two giants together to expand their retail and telecom businesses in the country, has enabled new opportunities for SMEs across India and democratized access, all through the integration of digital technology. While harnessing the huge business opportunity that India presents, global organizations continue to play a crucial role in developing and strengthening a culture of innovation in the Indian startup ecosystem, while fostering a sense of healthy competition. All of these indicators combined are preparing the Indian economy for the digital age, at a much faster pace than many emerging and mature markets.

As global companies expand their presence in the Indian market, they are focusing on integrating relevant new era technologies into business operations such as blockchain, automation, IoT and more. Global giants such as Uber, Amazon, Headspace, among others, have been the first players in their own categories to adopt cutting-edge, sustainable and smarter ways to innovate in the Indian market. Over the years, this has encouraged various indigenous startups that have grown exponentially on the technology and innovation front. These trends eventually led to the expansion of the category where global and local players found their niche and co-exist in a dynamic market opportunity that India represents today.

Read also | Indian economy expected to grow 7.5% this year: PM Modi at SCO summit

It is heartening to see that India has come a long way from a destination for low-cost outsourced software and support services to a technology and innovation hub for various global organizations. Some of the biggest global companies like Microsoft, Uber, Coursera, Google, Apple among others have established their innovation hubs in India while some are innovating in India, for the world.

Despite recent disruptions, the presence of global organizations in India has provided a golden opportunity for
local start-ups to learn and scale faster than ever. Also, India’s huge potential to grow exponentially and faster
than any other emerging country offers a huge opportunity for global companies to stay invested in the country.

Winning in India requires a long-term vision, a personalized market approach and careful attention to
early adopters who would become users of standard global offerings. Recognizing that there are many Indians in India who are collectively more diverse and unique than an entire continent, the opportunities for global and Indian businesses are endless.

(The author is EVP & Country Head, India, Times Bridge. Opinions are personal.)